South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says his country will continue to resist calls to abandon its independent and non-aligned foreign policy.
Speaking on Thursday at an Africa Day celebration in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, Mr Ramaphosa said the African continent was often dragged into conflicts far beyond its borders.
“South Africa has not been and will not be drawn into a contest between global powers. We will maintain our position on the peaceful resolution of conflict wherever those conflicts occur,” President Ramaphosa said.
South Africa’s relationship with the US, a key trade ally, has been strained since Pretoria took a non-aligned stance in the Russian war against Ukraine.
This was exacerbated by recent public statements made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, that the country had sold arms to Russia. President Ramaphosa agreed to investigate the claim but said there was no concrete evidence to support the allegations.
In his Thursday speech, the president said countries, including South Africa, were being “threatened with penalties” for pursuing an “independent foreign policy” and for adopting a position of non-alignment.
He did not, however, specify the penalties or who is threatening them.
President Ramaphosa said the continent had painful memories of foreign superpowers conducting “proxy wars on African soil”.
The South African government is also under pressure to take a decision on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is due to visit the country later this year.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the Ukraine conflict.