Mailbox: No bubble gum exported to Russia

From BizNews community member Robert Millard

It was comforting to read in newsfeeds assurances by Hon. Thandi Modise that South Africa “did not send fokol, not even a piece of Chappies to Russia“. The idea of rampaging Russian regiments wielding wads of South African bubble gum was too awful to contemplate. And comforting also that her long years as a primary school English teacher before she became Defence Minister left the good lady with such a wonderful command of the language.

Read more: Premium – FT Editorial Board: SA’s arms to Russia undercuts supposedly neutral stance

If Russia really is so stretched that they are using T34s again (and I have my doubts about that) then I suppose they would be happy to receive (for instance) booty captured during SADF operations in Angola in the 1980s. But that is, I think, less likely than other possibilities. Despite memes now emerging showing Russian soldiers carrying shields and assegais, South African manufactured weapons or ammunition  are by no means the only things that could have been loaded onto the Lady R.

It’s more likely I think that goods exported to Russia on that ship (and also on the Ilyushin that landed secretly at Waterkloof) included semiconductors and other electronic parts that Russia is sanctioned from procuring directly. It’s also not at all impossible that Russian weaponry and ammunition was acquired from other countries for resale back to the country of original manufacture, or perhaps Chinese-manufactured weapons and components compatible with Russian equipment.

Read more: Ramaphosa, Zelenskiy hold talks amid allegations of weapon supply to Russia

These possibilities would allow official denials that South Africa exported arms or ammunition to Russia to be the truth ….. but neither the whole truth nor nothing but the truth. A bit like a certain US president stating under oath: “I did not have sex with that woman!”  and that being true because what he had done was to explore unorthodox uses for a cigar.

Anyway, we will see what the commission of inquiry discovers, if the retired judge does not die of old age before it releases its findings.

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