South Africa’s ambassador to Russia says his country looks forward to partnering with the Eurasian Economic Union.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Moscow Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka at St. Petersburg University, May 2022 (St. Petersburg University)
South Africa’s Ambassador to Russia, Mzuvukile Jeff Maqetuka, told Sputnik that his country expects to partner with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and gain access to its market, with an eye on trade in the Chinese yuan.
“We look forward to this partnership [with EAEU] … First of all, it’s the partnership, the market access. We’re talking about access to the yuan market here,” he said.
South Africa is seeking to expand cooperation with Russia in mineral extraction
Maqetuka also told Sputnik that South Africa is interested in promoting cooperation with Russia in mineral exploration and production and in attracting Russian investment in the country’s energy sector.
The official noted that a delegation of 23 South African industrial companies is planned to attend the Mining World Russia trade exhibition in Moscow in April.
“We are still a major player in mining. That’s why these companies will be there. This will be the largest group of South African companies to come to Russia since COVID-19. Because it’s the right sector with us,” Maqetuka said.
The South African ambassador also told Sputnik that his country’s national oil company PetroSA plans to resume dialogue with Russian energy giant Gazprom over investments in South Africa’s energy sector.
“At that time there were delays, but I can inform you that there will be an interaction between Gazprom and PetroSA. Because we were approached by the Gazprom leadership, they are looking for investments in oil and gas in South Africa,” the diplomat said.
PetroSA is a state-owned company and owns offshore fields in the Cape Town area of Mossel Bay, Maqetuka said, adding that oil production there started in the 1970s.
“So Gazprom is keen to invest in any opportunity that arises, but now we are expecting a meeting between Gazprom and PetroSA. We agree with PetroSA leaders that the next meeting must be face-to-face. Because there has been a series of virtual meetings that the two companies have had since late 2021 when this process began,” said the South African Ambassador.
In addition, South Africa and its neighbors offered numerous investment opportunities for Russian corporations and entrepreneurs, the diplomat said. Given that South Africa has already expressed interest in cooperation, it is now “up to Russian companies to decide in which areas they want to invest,” Maqetuka told Sputnik.
Elsewhere, the South African diplomat said he expects the naval exercises with China and Russia to be held annually, noting there was no need to respond to Washington’s comments and criticisms.
“The most important thing is that the exercise takes place,” the diplomat said in response to NATO and US comments.
Read more: Read more: S.Africa reviews unilateral US sanctions affecting unrelated sanctions
The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) said on Thursday that about 350 members of the South African army will take part in trilateral naval exercises with Russia and China, the MOSI exercise, off the coast of South Africa’s Indian Ocean region of KwaZulu-Natal from February 17 will take part -27, noting that the first exercises of this type were carried out in November 2019.
“The question of reactions, we see these things. We see it as part of the democratic process. You can’t stop a fourth country from criticizing the type of exercise, you can’t stop them,” he stressed, stressing that his country’s interests are primarily foreign opinions.
The drills are aimed at demonstrating the three nations’ naval capabilities, he added, noting that it has not yet been decided when the next drills will take place.
“But looking at the track record of 2019 already, it’s an ongoing annual event. And I assume there is every chance that there will be another exercise even in 2024,” he told Sputnik.
Cape Town recently took over leadership of the BRICS, a grouping made up of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, as quoted by Sputnik on January 19, said the BRICS club of emerging economies was looking for a way to sidestep the dollar in order to create a fairer payment system that would not target rich countries.
Pandor also previously said South Africa is asking the United States to review its unilateral sanctions because of their impact on independent countries.
“We’ve always been concerned about the fact that the dollar is dominant and we need to look for an alternative,” he added.
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It is worth noting that South Africa’s Defense Secretary, Thandi Modise, revealed earlier this month that Washington is putting increasing pressure on African nations over its ties with Russia.