Ramaphosa needed a firmer stance to respond to US terror alert: Mahumapelo

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Parliament’s International Relations and Co-operations Committee Chairperson Supra Mahumapelo says President Cyril Ramaphosa should have taken a firmer stance in his response to the United States (US) terror alert recently.

Mahumapelo said this when the Department of International Relations and Co-operations led by the Deputy Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini appeared before the committee on Wednesday.

Mashego-Dlamini and some officials appeared virtually before the committee to brief it about various bilateral meetings and the strengthening of relations between the US and South Africa.

US  terror alert affected movement and business in Sandton

The US embassy warned of a possible attack in Sandton, Johannesburg, last weekend.

Mahumapelo says there should have been immediate communications between the two countries first, before the US announcement about an alleged planned terror attack.

He raised this when he opened the committee meeting on Wednesday.

“A week ago we saw an announcement by the US Intelligence without following the South African protocol in dealing with such complex matters of security, pronouncing that there is going to be some serious security situation in Sandton. We have seen the response by the President’s office. We have also seen the response by the Intelligence. I don’t know whether it’s a sufficient response or not. I think one of the things that was supposed to be done was either an immediate call by the  President to the US President or by our Minister to the US counterpart or some formal meeting between South Africa and the US somehow. If it has taken place or is in the pipeline, I apologise if it has escaped my radar,” says Mahumapelo.

“One of the places there which I went to, I asked the owner how has this affected your business because it was empty and the owner says it’s not only themselves. Almost everybody in Sandton, business-wise on that day, they lost a lot of revenue. It means Tourism on that day was also affected. It means the people of South Africa who are in the Transport industry were also affected because there were no commuters between whatever areas in Sandton because of the fear and anxiety,” he added.

It’s diplomatic language

Mahumapelo says Ramaphosa’s statement on the US terror alert was not convincing.

“Now, I’m requesting Deputy Minister that something much more tangible than the statement made by our  President of the Republic. I know the President said it was rather an unfortunate development. It’s diplomatic language, yes it’s understandable but I think a much firmer position on what the US has done. And for instance, there has to be a meeting, a meeting after which the people of South Africa will be very clear on what is South Africa’s stance in as far as this particular matter is concerned”

VIDEO: Ramaphosa says US terror alert in SA is unfortunate:

US-Russia cold war played out in SA- Bergman

Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of the International Relations and Co-operations Committee Darren Bergman raised concern about how South Africa is caught in the middle of a cold war between the US and Russia.

“We have seen the effects of the cold war between Russia and America warming up. I think what you gonna see now in South Africa is the cold war, waring out in South Africa because these two Superpowers are bringing their fights to South Africa. And we are already seeing symptoms of this with terror warning, you know millionaires bringing their toys to South Africa, people doing their shopping in South Africa”

SA has been neutral in Russia-Ukraine war: Dlomo

As MPs sought more clarity from the International Relations and Co-operations Department, the department said South Africa has not been silent in the war between Ukraine and Russia.

Deputy Director-General at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Maud Vuyelwa Dlomo, told the Committee that the superpowers have the power to stop the war between the two countries.

“South Africa has not really been silent. We’re neutral, we’ve put forward our position, but South Africa is very much engaged. All the leaders in terms of pushing and saying especially in terms of the UN reform and also the fact that a solution has to be found to end the war and pointing out that nobody, especially as small as South Africa, to stop the war, but the big powers have got the power to stop the war. So, there’s a lot of engagement taking place and a lot of respect has arisen in terms of understanding where we come from and the impact of what’s going on irrespective of how far it is.”

Grey-listing  of South Africa

The Department faced questions around South Africa facing grey-listing. The Committee raised concerns about the security standing of the country if it’s grey-listed.

On August 16, 2022, the Standing Committee on Finance warned that National Treasury will have to take responsibility if the October deadline of amending the Financial Intelligence Centre Act is not met, as authorities had warned that South Africa’s anti-money laundering legislative framework is lagging behind when compared with international standards.

South Africa could be grey-listed if it fails to meet recommendations listed by the International Financial Action Task Force by February next year.

There are currently two bills processed by the Finance Committee brought by National Treasury to avoid being grey-listed. The amendments seek to tighten loopholes in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

Dlomo told MPs that efforts are being made to ensure that the country is not grey-listed.

“In terms of grey-listing, there is a specific group that is working very hard in this area with all the related international organisations to look at what can be done to ensure that we don’t receive any grey-listing. ”

VIDEO: South Africa at the verge of grey-listing:

US-SA relations cordial

During the meeting, Mashego-Dlamini reaffirmed the relations between South Africa and the United States since  Joe  Biden became President.

“Bilateral relations with the US are cordial and have gained momentum since the inauguration of the Biden administration in January 2021. High-level interaction between the United States and South Africa has increased significantly as compared to the situation under the former President’s administration, in fulfillment of Biden’s election promise, Africa on a more equal and respectful basis. In 2022 alone, all three structured bilaterals between South Africa were met which is unprecedented.”