The Cat's Russian agenda: No nukes, political assassinations or vote rigging
When Deputy President David Mabuza recently travelled to Russia and met with the Russian government, the nuclear deal wasn't on the agenda. Neither was political assassinations, nor election rigging.
This is what emerged when Mabuza answered questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.
DA MP from Gauteng Bronwyn Engelbrecht, asked what was discussed with President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government regarding the nuclear deal when he visited Russia recently and whether any current "and/or future agreements" were made regarding nuclear power.
But the deputy president corrected Engelbrecht and said he hadn't met with Putin.
"The purpose of our working visit to Russia as appointed by the president, was to deliver South Africa's message of congratulations to President Vladimir Putin on his re-election as well as his subsequent inauguration. We would recall that President Ramaphosa could not attend due to prior commitments," he said.
He added that he met with the Russian minister of foreign affairs.
"In our discussions, we renewed South Africa's commitment to further develop the good relationship with Russia, guided by the 2013 Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership. We further discussed the importance of the implementation of the provisions of the declaration, especially pertaining to the annual political consultations by foreign ministers and the biennial consultations at president's level."
He also expressed South Africa's appreciation that Russia accepted the proposed dates to host the South Africa-Russia 15th ITEC Session in Moscow and discussed South Africa's readiness to host the BRICS summit of heads of state in Johannesburg.
Reforms of the United Nations
"The final issue we discussed was reforms of the United Nations. We enlisted the support of the Russian government for South Africa's candidature for the non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. The honourable members would be aware that South Africa was overwhelmingly voted into the UN Security Council," said Mabuza.
"In all the issues I have referred to above, there is no mention of nuclear. As no discussions regarding the so-called nuclear deal were held. No reference was made [to] any current and or future agreements.
"Having said that, our government's position on nuclear remains that it is part of our energy mix to diversify our sources of energy. Our Integrated Resource Plan, to be concluded later in the year, will determine the role of nuclear in that mix."
In her follow-up question, Engelbrecht asked if he discussed the modus operandi of political murders with his Russian counterparts, given his alleged history, and that of Russia. Mabuza glared in Engelbrecht's direction.
At first, presiding officer Archibold Nyambi asked her to withdraw. But in the end, it was allowed and Mabuza was given a choice of answering, because it was a new question.
Mabuza said he thought he should answer it and said he did not discuss any political assassinations.
"That was not on the agenda."
"If there is anyone with any information on political assassinations, please do the honourable thing and go to law enforcement agencies and open a case," he said.
He added that raising this without evidence was tantamount to character assassination.
DA MP from Limpopo Christiaan Smit, later asked if he discussed the modus operandi of election rigging with the Russians, in light of Russians allegedly rigging elections in their own and other countries.
Nyambi said this was a new question and therefore had a choice of whether or not to answer.
"I'm not going to answer a new question anymore," Mabuza said as he smiled.