Mabuza claims 'nothing sinister' about his Russian sojourn

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Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
  • Deputy President David Mabuza says there is "nothing sinister" about his trip to Russia.
  • He adds he only received medical support there.
  • Mabuza was answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Deputy President David Mabuza says there is "nothing sinister" about him going to Russia last year.

Mabuza was answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

One of the questions dealt with government's transition plans regarding the closure of coal mines and renewable energy sources.

In one of the follow-up questions, NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said: "Deputy president, we are a very suspicious nation. Your visit to Russia and our neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict is making people very suspicious about this gas deal."

READ | Gas, oligarchs, iron and mining: The Russian money that may be behind SA's pro-Kremlin stance

Mabuza said: "Firstly, we must remove this suspicion about myself going to Russia. It's purely a medical, a medical process. Purely. Purely a medical process.

"There is nothing sinister, there is nothing hidden. From here I go to hospital. And from hospital, I come back. Okay.

"I'm sure honourable members will respect the choice of an individual [to go to] a hospital, to choose," added a smiling Mabuza.

Opposition MPs heckled him and Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had to call for order during the otherwise low-octane sitting.

"Oh! I have excited you now," added an amused Mabuza.

When he answered questions in the National Assembly in December last year, Mapisa-Nqakula protected him from answering a question on whether the doctors he saw in Russia dealt with poisons and whether he saw anybody connected to a Russian nuclear deal while he was there.

Mabuza spent more than a month in Russia last year, where he received medical treatment for an unknown illness.

He has, on more than one instance, indicated he covered the costs of his travels himself, apart from the expenses for his private secretary, which had to accompany him as a requirement.

Earlier this week, Defence Minister Thandi Modise confirmed the SA Air Force did not take Mabuza to Russia.

Mabuza also answered questions in the National Council of Provinces earlier in March, where he was asked about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

ALSO READ | Russia-Ukraine: Mabuza thanks Putin for 'opening the space for mediation'

"Yes, we've got strong relations with the then-Soviet Union, now with the Russian Federation," he said in that session, adding it did not mean they were "blind" to what was happening now.

Mabuza said they would continue to urge countries to follow the route of diplomacy.

"We will continue to push it until we achieve peace. We want to thank the Russian Federation, especially President Vladimir Putin, for opening the space for mediation," he added.

Under the guise of "neutrality", the South African government gave its tacit support to Russia and was shamed by Ukraine at the UN last week.

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