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'Two sides of the coin': SA won’t change stance on Russia-Ukraine war

18 July 2022 - 16:57
SA will not change its non-aligned position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, says Lindiwe Zulu, social development minister and chair of the ANC subcommittee on international relations. File photo.
SA will not change its non-aligned position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, says Lindiwe Zulu, social development minister and chair of the ANC subcommittee on international relations. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu, who is also the chairperson of the ANC subcommittee on international relations, says the government will not change its non-aligned position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.  

She was addressing media on Monday on the party’s policy discussion document titled “In pursuit of progressive internationalism in a changing world”.  

In March, SA abstained during a UN General Assembly motion to reprimand Russia — a move criticised by some opposition parties, the US and EU, among others.

At the time, SA said the resolution did not create a conducive environment for diplomacy, dialogue and mediation.

Zulu said she had separate meetings with the ambassadors of Ukraine and Russia and shared the same sentiments.

“We needed to have an appreciation of both sides and our call, even to them [ambassadors], was we need peace, we need to make sure that the war ends,” she said.

The price of staple foods, including maize and cooking oil, has increased sharply due to restrictions on Ukrainian exports through its ports. 

DA leader John Steenhuisen has been at the forefront in calling for government to change its stance. In May he embarked on a six-day “fact finding mission” to Ukraine.   

On his return, he warned that price increases stemming from the war would be unbearable in months to come.

“The ripples of this war are only just starting to arrive on our shores, but they will soon be waves that will cause great suffering to ordinary South Africans and particularly to a sector of our society that cannot afford any further economic hardship.”

Zulu said “as far as we are concerned there are two sides of the coin”. 

We are not in the African continent just for lip service, because we believe the development of SA on its own without the development of the rest of the countries is meaningless
Lindiwe Zulu, minister of social development

President Cyril Ramaphosa had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and explained that SA preferred mediation in the conflict.

Zulu was also quizzed on the ANC's  participation in African politics, and said the party remained committed to the continent’s drive for development, human rights and good governance. 

“However, I do want to indicate that sometimes it’s because of our own internal dynamics, our socioeconomic conditions, sometimes our own political space — we’ve got our own internal politics, not just ANC but the politics of SA.

“But the message we want to relay, and hopefully when conference rises and makes a statement, it will prove that we [are] not in the African continent just for lip service, because we believe the development of SA on its own without the development of the rest of the countries is meaningless.” 

The ANC’s national policy conference scheduled for later this month is expected to be a platform to address the pressing issues that led the party to the precarious state it finds itself in. 

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