"There is nothing about Russia interfering in South African affairs," South African Ambassador to Moscow Nomasonto Maria Sibanda-Thusi told Sputnik Wednesday, adding that such interference was impossible and that the reshuffle was being done per the president's own orders. He clarified that President Jacob Zuma makes all decisions on his own.
The statement was made after Sunday's publication in the South African Sunday Times newspaper, claiming that the decision to make changes in the cabinet had been made after a meeting with high-level Russian representatives. The media called, "among the biggest shocks," the appointment of former Security Minister David Mahlobo to the post of energy minister a Moscow's choice.
The ambassador called the publication "fake news," adding that non-interference in state affairs was one of the key principles in BRICS, which includes both South Africa and Russia.
On October 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the reports "blatant Russophobia," hardly connected with the real state of affairs.
The Russian Embassy in Pretoria has reiterated Peskov's words, adding that it was ignorant of any high-level Russian delegation visiting South Africa last week. Press-attache of the Russian Embassy in Pretoria Alexander Kulyaev has called the reports "ridiculous, underlining that the idea of meddling in other states" affairs contradicts Russian foreign policy.
Over the past several years, claims about Russia's interference in election campaigns and internal policies have spread worldwide. Since the US 2016 presidential race, when the losing candidate Hillary Clinton blamed Moscow for her defeat, Russia has bashing moved to Europe: France, Germany and the UK. However, none of these claims have ever been substantiated.