Paul Machattel, Vice President
- If Putin comes to South Africa, he should be arrested.
- But he has so far resisted the suggestion of not attending.
- Ramaphosa will meet him again in Russia on July 27 or 28.
- For more financial news, go to News24 Business front page.
Vice President Paul Machatel said the government is still trying to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin not to attend the BRICS summit next month.
As a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which has issued an arrest warrant for him, the SA is under an obligation to arrest Putin, should he ever come to South Africa. But this is an inconceivable proposal to the government, as the government called it.
“It’s a big dilemma for us. Of course, we can’t arrest him. It’s almost like you invite your friend to your house, and then you arrest him. That’s why for us, not having him come is the best solution.”
“The Russians are not happy though. They want him to come,” he said in an interview in Johannesburg on Friday.
Mashatile was tasked with dealing with the dilemma by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and proposed three options, none of which were accepted by all of the BRICS partners. This included moving the summit to China, Putin not attending but sending his foreign minister in his place, and holding a virtual summit.
So, we’re in a situation where the summit is probably here, and the Russians want Putin to come. Therefore, we have now decided to leave this matter to the president who is talking to Putin. The president will attend the Russia-Africa summit later this month, so they’ll keep talking. We want to show him the challenges we face because we are part of the Rome Statute and we cannot escape from this.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor confirmed last week that the BRICS summit will be held in South Africa.
No decision was made to rescind Putin’s invitation, Machatel said, and the strategy remained based on persuasion until Ramaphosa met him in Russia at the end of July. Not inviting him, he said, was disingenuous because Russia was an original member of BRICS while SA joined later.
SA’s bonds and currencies were hit hard after US Ambassador to SA Reuben Brigety claimed that SA had sold weapons to Russia, which were loaded on the now famous ship Lady R, which was docked at Simonstown. Mchatel says he is fully aware of the financial consequences for South Africa should Putin arrive and not be arrested.