EFF leader Julius Malema said no one would block or arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he visits South Africa later this year for the scheduled BRICS summit.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), which South Africa is a signatory to, has issued a warrant of arrest for Putin for allegedly committing war crimes in Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“Putin is welcome here, and no one is going to arrest Putin. If need be, we are going to fetch Putin from the airport, take him to his meeting where he will address and finish his meetings, and we will take him back to the airport,” Malema told journalists in Joburg.
“We are not going to be told by these hypocrites of the International Criminal Court who know the real violators of human rights, the murderers of this world.
“The former prime minister (of England) Tony Blair admitted that he made a horrible mistake when it comes to Saddam Hussein – they have not been charged today. Bush is still there, and they have not been charged. Barack Obama killed (Muammar) Gaddafi, and nothing has happened.”
He said Libya has been destroyed and is unable to recover “because of America”.
“We know very well that where Nato gets involved, those are terrorists. We know very well that when the US says we are going to install peace, there will no longer be peace as long as America visits that place. We do not want ICC hypocrisy to apply here in our country,” said Malema.
“President Putin is welcome; we know our friends, we know the people who liberated us, we know the people who supported us. In Cuito Cuanavale (a town in Angola), the weapons that were used there that led to the liberation of South Africa were coming from Russia.
“Russia supplied us with weapons in Cuito Cuanavale and Cuba supplied us with soldiers – the MK (uMkhonto we Sizwe) was drunk,” he added.
Independent Media reported earlier this week that South Africa says it remains in touch with all the key stakeholders in the Ukraine-Russia conflict after the ICC issued a warrant of arrest for Putin ahead of the BRICS summit set for South Africa in August.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said while they noted the warrant issued by the ICC, the country maintained that the conflict in Ukraine can be resolved through peaceful means.
Magwenya said between now and the summit it would be in touch with all key stakeholders.
“With respect to the ICC we note the report on the warrant of arrest that the ICC has issued against President Putin. It remains South Africa’s commitment and a very strong desire that the conflict in the Ukraine is resolved peacefully through negotiations.
“We as a government are cognisant of our legal obligation. However, between now and the summit we will remain engaged with relevant stakeholders with respect to the summit and other issues related,” said Magwenya.
South Africa was caught up in a similar situation in 2015 when it did not arrest former president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir when he was attending the African Union summit in Johannesburg.
Political parties went to court to challenge the government for not arresting Al-Bashir, who was later toppled in his country.
Putin is expected to attend the BRICS summit with Ramaphosa, President Xi Jinping of China, President Lula da Silva of Brazil and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Xi has met Putin this week in the Chinese leader’s first visit to Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.
On the other hand, the DA said Ramaphosa should not allow Putin to attend the BRICS summit, unless he intends to arrest the Russian leader the moment he sets foot on South African soil.
“The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to prioritize the country’s reputation and well-being over that of Russian president Vladimir Putin and ensure that he is not among the leaders set to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August,” said DA Member of Parliament Darren Bergman.
“The ICC’s issuing of a warrant for Putin’s arrest for alleged war crimes should serve as a final warning to the ANC that while the governing party might make light of the invasion of a neighbouring country, the international community does not.”
The ruling ANC has refused to be drawn on whether the South African government would act in line with the ICC directive to arrest Putin if he set foot in the country.
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said they still wanted a peaceful solution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.