The US Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, has reportedly apologized unreservedly after allegedly admitting that he “crossed the line” with his comments suggesting that South Africa supplied arms to Russia. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) summoned Brigety to explain his conduct, which drew sharp criticism from the South African government.
In an official statement released on Friday, Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela expressed the government’s “utter displeasure” regarding Brigety’s behavior and statements made on Thursday. Monyela emphasized that the US ambassador’s remarks were puzzling and contradictory to the mutually beneficial and cordial relationship between the United States and South Africa.
Monyela further highlighted South Africa’s globally recognized stringent processes for arms sales to other nations, indicating that the country maintains a responsible approach in this regard. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to establish a judicial inquiry into the allegations was welcomed by Dirco, as it aims to establish the facts and identify the parties involved. Monyela stressed that severe consequences would be imposed on anyone found to have violated the law.
In response to the incident, South Africa called upon the US Embassy in Pretoria to employ established diplomatic channels of communication for expressing concerns or seeking clarity on any misunderstandings that may arise in the bilateral relationship. The government emphasized the importance of preserving and nurturing the diplomatic ties between the two nations.
It is expected that Ambassador Brigety will soon publish his account of the meeting on social media, providing his perspective on the matter.
The controversy surrounding Brigety’s comments has highlighted the sensitivities surrounding international relations and underscores the need for open and constructive dialogue between nations. The apology from the US ambassador, along with the initiation of a judicial inquiry, signifies a commitment to resolving the issue in a fair and transparent manner, ultimately strengthening the relationship between the United States and South Africa.
The meeting between USA Ambassador to South Africa @ReubenBrigety and @DIRCO_ZA— Clayson Monyela (@ClaysonMonyela) May 12, 2023
took place this afternoon. We conveyed our displeasure with his conduct and he admitted that he crossed the line and apologised unreservedly. The relations between the USA & South Africa are cordial,… pic.twitter.com/5pBxTgyI82
I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Foreign Minister Pandor this evening and correct any misimpressions left by my public remarks. In our conversation, I re-affirmed the strong partnership between our two countries & the important agenda our Presidents have given us.— Ambassador Reuben Brigety (@USAmbRSA) May 12, 2023