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Steenhuisen’s visit to Ukraine ruffles feathers as he insists he visited crisis-stricken locals ‘in the past three months’

04 May 2022 - 08:00
DA leader John Steenhuisen is in Ukraine.
DA leader John Steenhuisen is in Ukraine.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

DA leader John Steenhuisen’s visit to war-ridden Ukraine has triggered mixed responses ranging from praise to criticism.

Steenhuisen on Sunday announced his arrival in Lviv in western Ukraine, from where he started his six-day tour of parts of the country. He will visit refugee camps and meet leaders of cities to assess the damage caused by Russia’s invasion. 

“We owe it to the people of Ukraine to tell the unfiltered truth about what is taking place here so the world can stand united in bringing this injustice to an end.”

Steenhuisen said the effect of the war was not exclusive to Ukraine.

“We live in a world where disruptions in one country cause major ripples everywhere else. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not a European problem. It is a global problem and the knock-on effect of this war on our own fuel, maize, cooking oil and fertiliser prices is going to reach very deeply into the pockets of poor South Africans who already cannot make ends meet,” he said. 

He said evidence of the injustice against the people of Ukraine was too glaring to ignore or remain neutral about..

Political analyst Jamie Mighti questioned Steenhuisen’s response to domestic challenges in DA-led communities. 

“Has he gone to see the horrors of the drug war in the Cape Flats? Has he gone to see the horrors of poverty in the various informal settlements in SA, where his party leads in the Western Cape? Was he on the ground when fire ravaged the Joe Slovo informal settlement? I didn’t see him there. ”

He said Steenhuisen’s concern for Ukraine was misplaced. 

“He doesn’t speak on Cameroon, Uganda and pan-African issues. Rushing to Ukraine is a bit of a mismatch. Are you a foreign leader or are you taking chances?” he asked. 

Steenhuisen dismissed accusations that he was more concerned about foreign issues.

In the past three months, he said, he has “been wherever there has been a crisis in SA”. He said politics should not be viewed as “one dimensional”.

“People tend to think politics is one dimensional. It’s not. You can be concerned about domestic issues and at the same time, you can be concerned about international issues particularly when they have an effect on the domestic agenda like food security.” 

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