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US accuses South Africa of supplying weapons to Russia in Ukraine war 

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South Africa’s relations with European giant, Russia is on the spotlight again as United States ambassador, Reuben Brigety has accused the country of providing ammunition to Russia through ship.

Brigety said the US was sure that contrary to its public claim of being non-aligned in Russia/Ukraine crisis, South Africa supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army.

“Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6th to 8th December, 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition onto that vessel in Simon’s Town as it made its way back to Russia,” said the ambassador.

“The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved, and we would like SA to start practising its non-alignment policy,” he said.

The Russian Lady R vessel was spotted at the port of Simonstown near Cape Town in December and according to the US, the ship previously carried weapons for Russia.

The ambassador also expressed worry over South Africa’s involvement in military exercises with Russia and China during the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.

“We expressed our serious concerns as well for the timing of the joint naval exercises that SA participated in with Russia and China in SA waters that coincided with the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

South Africa has maintained strong ties with Russia and is under pressure to arrest Russia’s Putin who is expected to visit for the BRICS Summit later this year following the issuance of an arrest warrant on March 17 against the Russian President by ICC for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

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Musings From Abroad

Niger, Turkey expand energy, defence cooperation

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Following Niger’s request for the departure of Western military forces and the cancellation of many Western countries’ mining contracts, Turkey and Niger decided to increase their collaboration in the areas of energy, mining, intelligence, and defence.

On Wednesday, MIT intelligence chief, Ibrahim Kalin, Energy Minister, Alparslan Bayraktar, Defense Minister, Yasar Guler, and Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, of Turkey paid a visit to Niamey, the capital of Niger.

The Turkish team also met with General Abdulrahman Tiani, the leader of Niger, who assumed office in July of last year following the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum by the military council he led and the country’s shift in allegiance.

The junta expelled the French forces, and the United States was instructed to remove its military men from the nation. Additionally, it broke security agreements with the EU.

Two months have passed since Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Niger’s Prime Minister Ali Mahaman Lamine Zeine met in Ankara, where the Turkish officials are currently on a visit.

Following their discussions on Wednesday, Fidan informed reporters that officials from Turkey and Niger had talked about enhancing their defence intelligence collaboration.

Guler talked about measures to strengthen defence and military training cooperation between Turkey and Niger, an official from the Turkish Ministry of defense said on Thursday.

The energy ministry of Turkey announced on Wednesday that the two nations had inked a statement of intent to assist and motivate Turkish enterprises to develop the oil and natural gas resources in Niger.

Niger is the seventh-largest producer of uranium in the world and possesses the highest-grade uranium ores in Africa.

However, a Turkish diplomatic source stated that Ankara is not looking to purchase uranium from Niger for its first nuclear power station, which is being built in Akkuyu in Turkey’s Mediterranean area by Russia’s Rosatom.

 

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Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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