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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

SA’s position on Russia-Ukraine conflict ‘will be vindicated’

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula stressed the party’s nonaligned posture did not mean it was neutral in the conflict.

The ANC has clarified South Africa’s nonaligned foreign policy stance, including in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying it is “unflinching” in its historical position to work for peace and stability in the world.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula stressed the party’s nonaligned posture did not mean it was neutral in the conflict.

“We are not neutral, we have taken a stand, we are anti-war. They want to reduce us to be either in favour of Ukraine or Russia,” Mbalula said.

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He added some countries, which he did not name, wanted to transport arms through South Africa to Ukraine and as then minister of transport, he refused and stopped that planeload of weapons.

“We said this is against our position,” Mbalula said.

ANC international relations subcommittee member and former diplomat Lindiwe Zulu said the ANC’s approach based on nonviolence resolution of world conflicts came from the Freedom Charter that said conflicts must be resolved by peaceful means.

Zulu said Africa was the subject of scorn and laughter for its efforts but humanity as a whole stood to benefit from its efforts to bring peace to Ukraine.

She said because the former Soviet Union supported the ANC in its struggle against apartheid rule, did not mean they would agree with everything Russia said.

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She rejected suggestions the ANC only engaged with the Russian ambassador to South Africa and said she held discussions with both Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to South Africa, as mandated by the ANC.

ANC consistent with non-aligned position

Scholar and international relations expert Dr Oscar van Heerden said in his research he found the ANC had been consistent with its non-aligned position for years.

Van Heerden was a moderator in a panel dialogue on the Russia-Ukraine conflict under the theme “A better Africa and a better world” hosted by the ANC on Wednesday night.

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Zulu said as ANC they were conscious of the fact that whenever there was war or conflict anywhere in the world, it was bound to affect Africa, hence the ANC always wanted to find a peaceful solution to that conflict.

She said the 10-point plan for peace presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of the African leaders who comprised Peace Mission was centred on peace, friendship, good neighbourliness and mutual beneficial economic productivity between Russia and Ukraine.

The African mission came about after negotiations on what should be done and foreign diplomats in South Africa were aware of the discussions that happened. There were also consultations among African leaders for a common approach.

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One of the decisions made was to get Russian and Ukrainian leaders to meet the African leaders. Zulu said the global community now says the decision of the ANC-led government to be among the cofounders of Brics configuration was correct from the onset.

African mission to Ukraine ‘historic’

Head of diplomacy in the department of international relations and cooperation Clayson Monyela said the African mission to Ukraine was historic and unprecedented. The impact of the war on African economies was evident. He expressed optimism that the peace effort was going to bear fruit.

“Even those who were critical of South Africa’s position couldn’t tell you what the alternatives could have been. We believe that South Africa’s position is going to be vindicated,” Monyela said.

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University of Johannesburg foreign policy expert Professor Chris Landsberg said for the last 30 years the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was a direct factor in international peace and security.

He said the Russian ambassador to South Africa was correct to say Russia was pressured to go to war by the West.

Landsberg said Nato triggered the war in Ukraine with its five stages of expansion towards Russia.

– ericn@citizen.co.za