LISTEN | 5 key points in John Steenhuisen’s report-back on Ukraine: 'Effects of the war will take years to overcome'
DA leader John Steenhuisen on Monday defended his controversial visit to war-stricken Ukraine, saying he went there to represent peace-loving South Africans.
Steenhuisen added it was important for him to get first-hand experience of the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The opposition leader visited Kyiv last week to meet various leaders and embark on a fact-finding trip regarding the extent of the effects of the war.
Listen to what he had to say:
Here are five takeaways from his report:
‘I wanted to see for myself’
Steenhuisen responded to critics who said his trip was unnecessary, saying he wanted to see for himself the plight of the displaced and not have any doubts or questions about media reports.
“I wanted to see for myself what was happening there. I wanted to hear the accounts first-hand from the people living through this nightmare. I didn’t want to have to rely on a filtered, sanitised version of events, and I didn’t want to have any doubts over the accuracy or truthfulness of what we’re seeing on TV.”
SA must pick a side in Russia, Ukraine war
He said the war was a fight between “good and evil” and that SA’s non-aligned stance could not be justified. He called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to condemn the war, saying people in Ukraine do not understand SA’s position on the matter.
“If you had travelled with me to Ukraine, if you had seen what I saw, if you had spoken to the people I spoke to, you would not still be sitting on the fence. You would be mortified by your government’s initial response. You would be deeply ashamed and you would change your view.”
Effects of the war will take years to overcome
Steenhuisen said the war between the two countries was far from over and emphasised its impact on Ukraine’s agricultural sector which might take years to recover. He said because of this, the impact will be felt widely.
“This is a global issue. Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower oil, third-largest producer of corn and among the top five producers of wheat in the world. Africa as a continent is dependent on grains from this region.”
The ANC does not speak for all South Africans
The opposition leader said he assured leaders in Ukraine that the ANC’s stance on the war is not representative of all South Africans, but of the party’s “narrow financial interests”.
Poor South Africans will feel the impact of the war
Steenhuisen said poor South Africans who rely on staple foods such as maize, bread and sunflower cooking oil will suffer as a result of high prices.
“Sharp rises in these products will hit all of us in the pocket, but for those who spend a large portion of their income on these basics, the effects of this war will be unbearable. These are the people that will suffer and they will die if we don’t step in ...”
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.