Pretoria – The SACP is calling for the government to expel United States Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety, after he made explosive claims that Pretoria had sold weapons to Russia despite having taken a non-aligned stance on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Following a social media furore, and a demarche issued to Brigety by the Department of International Relations (Dirco), Brigety has “apologised” for the misconceptions arising from his remarks.
Speaking to broadcaster eNCA on Monday, SACP national spokesperson Alex Mashilo said he believed US operatives were spying on South Africa and Brigety was within that operation.
“How would an ambassador who represents a foreign country in our country make such claims without such claims coming from rogue intelligence networks? If you look at it, clearly the functions of some intelligence work … they are definitely spying on South Africa and the information is used from those spying activities to make the allegations,” said Mashilo.
“We have not seen his apology, and we have not seen him tender his apology. I doubt you have heard him tender his apology, or you have seen any written piece of word.
What we know is that our Department of International Relations and Co-operation came out to say they had an interaction with him and he regretted acting in the manner he did, which we characterise as acting hysterically,” said Mashilo.
“His entire behaviour is concerning. By the way, you are not talking about an ordinary ambassador here. You are talking about Dr Brigety who is a holder of a doctorate, somebody who can read, interpret documents and should understand the applicable laws, and the far-reaching consequences of his actions.”
The SACP said Brigety’s actions constituted “a national security threat in our country and undermine our democratic national sovereignty”.
“We are not a colony of the United States of America. Our foreign policy cannot be determined by an ambassador or a foreign state. We are an independent republic. We do not want any foreign dictatorship at all,” he said.
At a media briefing on Thursday last week, Brigety alleged Russia was armed by South Africa with weapons and ammunition that had been loaded on to a Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, at Simon’s Town Naval Base in December last year.
After a meeting with Brigety, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation on Friday released a photo and said the US diplomat had “apologised unreservedly”.
Former minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu slammed the US ambassador’s actions, saying he had failed to go through the appropriate diplomatic channels to confirm his information with the appropriate senior government officials.
“It is absolutely wrong that an ambassador resident in our country should not have followed the due processes that are required (for) his station in our country,” Sisulu said.
The EFF, led by Julius Malema, said Brigety should be expelled from South Africa, and the party would not allow the US to continue “bullying” South Africa.
On Saturday, the EFF called for Bigety’s removal, with EFF national chairperson Veronica Mente saying his accusation was a very serious international relations blunder.
Mente, who spoke to the SABC during the party’s three-day Central Command Team meeting in Kempton Park, added that it was wrong of Ramaphosa to suggest that the incident required an investigation.
“We have called for (his) removal, and he must just pack his bags and go back home because you cannot have a person who just gets excited and starts accusing a sovereign country on its own shores to say this is what has happened,” Mente said.
“But at the very same time, we do blame Ramaphosa for thinking that what the ambassador said qualifies for some kind of investigation. He should have rubbished such things. He should know the country he’s leading. He should know what is happening in the ports of this country.”