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International embassies say media got their SA corruption memo wrong

This comes in the wake of the Sunday Times reporting that the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa warning him that failure to act against those implicated in corruption placed foreign investment at risk.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 23 January 2019. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The United States Embassy in South Africa has clarified that it and the four other nations at the centre of a diplomatic spat with South Africa did not send any official document to any government branch of South Africa.

This comes in the wake of the Sunday Times reporting that the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa warning him that failure to act against those implicated in corruption placed foreign investment at risk.

The clarification comes following a meeting on Monday with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to discuss what the department said was a breach of protocol. The department said the representatives of the five countries conceded they were wrong to send a discussion document raising concerns around corruption in the country directly to the president.

In a joint statement on Monday, the five countries clarified that they did not send any official document to any government branch of South Africa and that the document referred to by the Sunday Times was an informal discussion paper drafted by the missions in the run-up to Ramaphosa's Investment Conference in June 2018.

The paper, the statement said, was intended to support South Africa's investment drive and "underpin our constructive dialogue with the South African government."

The statement added that the five nations were "happy with the positive engagement we had with the South African government and civil society partners", saying they hoped to continue engaging in the same spirit.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) has accused the five nations of pushing for regime change in the country.

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa: “We see this as nothing else but as part of an agenda for regime change.”

He says the countries must give the South African government space.

He says the country has already started a process of dealing with the problem of corruption through the establishment of various commissions of inquiries.

Additional reporting by Clement Manyathela.

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