Cape Town – International relations and co-operation committee (Dirco) chairperson Supra Mahumapelo has poured scathing criticism over President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to last week’s contentious terror alert by the US government.
ANC MP Mahumapelo was addressing Dirco Deputy Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini and officials during the committee’s briefing on the strategic bilateral mechanisms between the two governments, a week after the US controversially circumvented the host government’s protocols to issue a terror alert.
The alert came despite Biden’s main objectives to his sub-Saharan strategy including “security dividends”.
Mahumapelo, who was in the ANC camp which lost out to Ramaphosa in the previous elective conference, introduced the terror alert topic in his opening.
While other MPs chose to address different international relations developments, Mahumapelo circled back on the US terror alert, labelling the world’s biggest economy as “bullies”.
Mahumapelo said the US government has a responsibility to normalise not only relationships with states that agree with it, but also with states with which it’s not on the same wavelength politically, particularly China.
“It is in that context that we have to discuss what SA’s role is, relationship-wise, with the US,” Mahumapelo said. “We’ve seen the response (to the terror alert) by the president’s office and by intelligence. I don’t know whether it was a sufficient response or not.”
He said Ramaphosa should’ve arranged an immediate phone call or meeting with his US counterpart Joe Biden or any formal meeting between the two states, “but if it has taken place I apologise, it may have escaped my radar”.
Mahumapelo asked Mashego-Dlamini and the officials to unpack the relationship between SA and the US. Mahumapelo said Sandton tourism and Johannesburg transport businesses were negatively affected byt the panic.
Responding to Mahumapelo, a Dirco official said SA and US officials usually engaged, but this time “there was not a deeper conversation before they went out with that statement”.
The Dirco official said following bilateral dialogues between the two governments, SA has benefited by way of the US lifting its section 232 sanctions on products such as steel, a dramatic increase in citrus fruit exports compared to the restrictions imposed on SA exporters by the EU, and agreements towards transitioning to clean energy, among other things.
DA MP Willem Faber said Ramaphosa should’ve been the first to call Russia during its blockade of maize ships out of the Black Sea.
DA MP Darren Bergman said sanctioned Russian billionaire Alexey Mordashov’s super-yacht should be blocked from coming to the city port as it could bring along with it Russia and US tensions on these shores.