Modise and Co’s Russian ‘cocktail party’ on day of invasion ‘grotesque’, says DA
The DA likened the event to "raising a glass to the might of the German army on the day that Hitler invaded Poland."
A placard featuring an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin and reading “We are with him for the sovereignty of Russia! And you?” is seen left in front of the Russian State Duma building in central Moscow on February 28, 2022. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)
The ANC government has found itself on the “wrong side of history”, after representatives recently allegedly attended Russian Motherland Defender’s Day celebrations hosted by the Russian ambassador to South Africa.
This according to a seething statement released by the Democratic Alliance (DA), who said Ilya Rogachev and the Russian Defence Attache Colonel Dmitriy Priimachuck hosted Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise, her director general’s special advisor Tsepe Motumi, and South African National Defence Force Chief General Rudzani Maphwanya to sip champagne and celebrate “the power of an army that had just invaded its neighbour”.
The event, said to have taken place at Rogachev’s Pretoria residence, was boycotted by all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) member states, and took place hours after Russia’s Ukraine invasion, on 24 February.
“At a time when the world has chosen to stand united in its condemnation of Russia’s war declaration on a sovereign nation… our own ANC government could not scramble fast enough to the wrong side of history”, the DA said.
Modise and co’s attendance was branded “grotesque”.
“Imagine raising a glass to the might of the German army at the German embassy on the day that Hitler invaded Poland.”
The DA said the cocktail party came two hours after the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, in line with the United Nations (UN) charter.
“Armed conflict will no doubt result in human suffering and destruction, the effects of which will not only affect Ukraine but also reverberate across the world.
“No country is immune to the effects of this conflict. As the UN Secretary-General has indicated, the conflict will have a huge impact on the ‘global economy in a moment when we are emerging from the Covid pandemic and so many developing countries need to have space for the recovery’,” said Dirco.
“In line with our strong commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict, South Africa urges all parties to devote increased efforts to diplomacy and to find a solution that will help avert further escalation.
“The door of diplomacy should never be closed even as conflict has broken out.”
Sunday Times reported President Cyril Ramaphosa was “unhappy” about Dirco’s statement, a claim later dismissed by Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele – without going into detail.
A source told the publication Ramaphosa did not see the statement before it was issued, and disagreed with it.
“There are people within Dirco with an agenda that we must be enemies with Russia,” the source said.
Gungubele said Cabinet would “always prefer peaceful solutions of conflicts”, but did not comment on whether claims on contradictory stances on the invasion were true.
ANC ’embarrassing’ SA
“So what is it then? Where do the ANC government and President Ramaphosa stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine? How can one hand not know what the other is doing during a major global crisis?,” the DA questioned.
They said Russia was now a “global pariah state thanks to the ruthless warmongering of its despotic leader.”
“The ANC could not embarrass us more on the world stage if it tried.”
The DA further called for Ramaphosa to clarify his stance in a national address on Russia’s Ukraine invasion, to prevent “our country’s image to be dragged through the mud.”
SA-Russia relations celebrations
Monday marked 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and South Africa.
“Our interaction is distinguished by the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation established during the struggle against apartheid, which continue to develop today,” Russia said in a tweet.
A function was hosted by the Russian Consulate in Cape Town on Monday night, and was attended by, among others, Leader of the Opposition in the Western Cape Legislature Cameron Dugmore, and ANC Deputy Chief Whip Khalid Sayed.
Dugmore said the event was “very special”, marking “important history” between the ANC and the former Soviety Union.
The DA, Dugmore added, gathered in solidarity with the people of Ukraine “without consulting anyone” during celebrations, and lit up the building with the colours of the Ukraine flag.
“This just shows the bankruptcy of the DA in this province. Where they’re trying to opportunistically use this conference, at the same time we’ve had a situation where they’ve refused to for instance debate for example the Palestinian issue.
“And here they are taking an opportunistic stand on the conflict in the Ukraine at the moment. We won’t be sidetracked by essentially political games. We have relations to build.
“Our country is interested in peace. That is what our government is working towards.”
This was echoed by Sayed, who condemned the DA’s actions. He accused them of “squashing debates” when dealing with issues such as Palestine.”
Said said Russia and South Africa’s relations were integral to “build a better world, where not just one superpower, the United States, determines the global agenda”.
The Citizen reached out to Modise’s spokesperson and the Department of Military Veterans, but no comment was received by the time this article was published.
Compiled by Nica Richards.