/ 8 June 2023

Cabinet has taken no clear decision on Brics summit, says Ntshavheni

President Vladimir Putin and President Cyril Ramaphosa
File photo: Presidents Vladimir Putin and Cyril Ramaphosa

Despite firm advice from an inter-ministerial committee to move the Brics summit to another host nation, the cabinet has not yet taken an official decision to this effect.

At a media briefing on Thursday, the minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said nothing has been concluded with regard to the summit scheduled for late August.

“Once the IMC [inter-ministerial committee] has finalised its work, and the IMC continues to work, it may update cabinet once in a while and it will consider various options,” she said.

“When the IMC has finished its work … we have indicated that the announcement will be made on what the final decision will be made as it relates to the hosting of the Brics summit.”

Sources told the Mail & Guardian that the IMC recommended that no time be wasted in reaching agreement that another member state, most likely China, would host the event.

Ntshavheni said a decision would be communicated once taken. She refused to be drawn on the details of a telephonic conversation between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin this week.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, told the M&G that the venue of the summit was not broached in a phone call between the two heads of state on the subject of an African peace initiative vis-a-vis the invasion of Ukraine.

Well-placed sources said Pretoria was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It had sound legal opinion that there was no way around its legal obligations in terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would oblige South Africa as a signatory to arrest Putin if he were to set foot in South Africa. 

This is after the ICC issued a warrant against Putin over alleged war crimes relating to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

For now, nothing has been decided as to moving the upcoming Brics summit to another host nation, Ntshaveni said.

Ramaphosa last month announced a peace mission on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, shortly after South Africa was accused of covertly supplying Moscow with arms. 

The mission comprises Senegalese President Macky Sall, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Zambian President Haikande Hichilema, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.