Ramaphosa’s adviser Sydney Mufamadi denies rift with US

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 14, 2023


By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi says they have reaffirmed their relationship with the US, despite claims by its ambassador Reuben Brigety of arming Russia.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said they have done calculations on the risks should South Africa be hit with secondary sanctions, saying this would go beyond the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Mufamadi, Godongwana and Director-General in the Department of the International Relations and Cooperation, Zane Dangor were on Saturday briefing the media after their return from Washington where they met with senior officials and lawmakers.

Mufamadi said the issue of the Russian ship was also discussed in their meetings.

He said despite some lawmakers and other officials being initially sceptical about South Africa’s neutral position on the Ukraine conflict, they were on the same page after their discussions.

He said he will continue his line of communication with President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

He said the US National Director of Intelligence led a delegation to South Africa where they discussed a number of issues.

Godongwana will also strengthen relations with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The same applies with Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel with his counterpart in the US.

This relationship would be further strengthened at Cabinet levels in Washington and Pretoria.

On the issue of Brigety’s claims, he said he has apologised unreservedly for his conduct.

Mufamadi said Brigety should have used diplomatic channels before going public with his allegations.

Mufamadi said what was going on at the moment in their discussions with US officials was that there was an intention to renew AGOA.

“As you know the AGOA programme, which is about opportunities for African countries to access markets for their products, that programme is up for review. The overriding intention is to extend it. They are contemplating renewing it, recalibrating it,” said Mufamadi.

He said they were satisfied that they got the message across to US officials during their meetings and Ramaphosa was happy about the outcome of the discussions.

Dangor said when they were in the US and the issue of the Russian ship came up, there was no evidence presented to back up the allegation of arms being loaded on the vessel.

“What we did get in terms of Lady R was the same allegation that there may have been ammunition loaded or offloaded, but there was no concrete evidence presented to us from any of the people we met. The intelligence services may be able to share this with us once the inquiry gets going. During our stay there, there was no concrete evidence presented,” said Dangor.

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