New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi allegedly “refused” to leave his aircraft on Tuesday, August 22, because the South African government did not send a more senior official to welcome him to the country, South African news outlet Daily Maverick reported government officials as saying.
However, the spokesperson for South African vice president Paul Mashatile said that the plan was always for him to welcome Modi. He added that Mashatile was at the Waterkloof Air Base in Pretoria – near Johannesburg, where the BRICS summit is underway – “well before” Prime Minister Modi landed.
According to the Daily Maverick, a cabinet minister was initially sent to receive Modi at the Waterkloof Air Base and the Indian prime minister refused to alight from his plane.
“By contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa had personally been on the tarmac to greet Chinese President Xi Jinping when he arrived on Monday night,” the website reported.
Ultimately, deputy president Paul Mashatile left an event held for Xi and proceeded to receive Modi from Waterkloof, it reported officials as alleging. As The Wire had reported, Xi was on a state visit to South Africa.
The report, titled ‘Tough Love Triangle: While Ramaphosa focused on Xi, Modi threw a tantrum and refused to get off his plane’, was not accessible from India when this report was published. The homepage of Daily Maverick was also not accessible.
Trying to visit the article yields a Cloudflare page saying “This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks”. However, an archived version of the article can be accessed here.
The Wire has reached out to the Daily Maverick and awaits their response. This article will be updated if and when it is received.
However, the Daily Maverick‘s chief executive Styli Charalambous told Scroll that the website was subject to Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks from India. DDoS attacks are malicious attempts to overwhelm a website or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of traffic.
While the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has not officially commented on the Daily Maverick‘s article, official sources have denied the claims.
The article also says that the South African government arranged for Xi to make a state visit to the country before the BRICS summit, but was unable to do the same for Modi due to scheduling conflicts.
SA officials deny story
However, another South African news outlet, news24, reported that government officials strongly denied the claims made in the Daily Maverick article.
The spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), Lunga Ngqengelele said the South African government had “arranged with its BRICS counterparts as to who would receive the respective heads of state at the Sandton Convention Centre”.
He said there was no tension from the Indian representatives and that it was “common for ministers to welcome heads of state during working visits”. He pointed out that foreign minister Naledi Pandor had received Brazil’s President Lula da Silva with no issues.
He said the Indian government knew who would have received the prime minister. “In most cases, it is ministers who receive heads of state [during working visits], or the president himself, if he is available.
South African vice president Mashatile’s spokesperson Vukani Mde also denied the Maverick story. He said Mashatile’s office “was well aware, ahead of time” that the Indian prime minister would be arriving and that he would be receiving him. “He was there well before PM Modi landed,” the spokesperson said, according to news24.
Mde also denied the claim that Mashatile had to be “dispatched” from an event – saying that he finished his duties so that he could go to Waterkloof on time.
“He was not ‘dispatched’ suddenly, he did not need to ‘appease’ anyone,” he was quoted as saying.
The news24 report says President Ramaphosa managed the “apparent tensions” from the Indian delegation by first greeting Modi during a photo opportunity on Wednesday morning “before the other BRICS leaders arrived, and after he and Modi had met for a working meeting”.
Modi, Xi, Ramaphosa and Lula Da Silva are in Johannesburg to attend the BRICS’ 15th annual summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin is attending virtually owing to concerns revolving around the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against him.
Note: This article was updated with Daily Maverick‘s claims of a DDoS attack after it was published.