Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said South Africa recognises Nicolas Maduro as the rightful leader of Venezuela and would use its vote in the UN security council to that effect.
Russia and South Africa, which just assumed a non-permanent seat in the council, are expected to block a move by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to get the global body to recognise Juan Guaido as the embattled country's "self-proclaimed" acting president.
It's understood an emergency security council meeting had been called to deal with the issue on Saturday.
Venezuela added a political crisis on top of its economic and social challenges when a move by Guaido to declare himself interim president received the backing of US President Donald Trump and numerous other states.
Sisulu questioned why a man who had simply declared himself president should be supported.
"We recognise the duly elected democratic president until such time that he steps down or is duly unelected, and that is what we are presenting at the UN security council," Sisulu told journalists during a sit-down at the tail-end of a state visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"Anything else we find irregular, and that is a position we are going to put across at the UN security council," added Sisulu.
The minister formed part of a delegation that included numerous other ministers, including Gwede Mantashe, Pravin Gordhan, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Naledi Pandor, as well as role-players in the business sector.
Sisulu said South Africa had taken key lessons from when it abstained on a resolution to condemn all human rights violations in Myanmar last year.
"Having studied the case, I came to the decision that I want us to have a case-by-case resolution," she said, telling journalists she had no issues being woken up at odd hours for this.
"They will not have a carte blanche on issues like this," she said.
"Our situation is very clear, recognise the duly elected democratic government of Venezuela. I understand they are under severe pressure or undergoing severe difficulty, but that is the only government that has been duly elected," she said.
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