Ramaphosa sending special envoy to G7 countries in bid to find peaceful solution to Russia-Ukraine war

01 June 2023 - 08:00
By Amanda Khoza
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS. President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is sending a delegation to G7 countries in a bid to bring about a peaceful and negotiated end to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Ramaphosa will use the opportunity to continue to explain South Africa’s non-aligned stance in the war which broke out on February 24, 2022.

“I will be sending the minister of international relations and co-operation, the minister of trade, industry and competition, the minister of finance and the minister in the presidency as my envoys to the G7 countries to explain our peace mission and to deal with various diplomatic matters,” he said while delivering his budget vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

He said the engagements with a number of those countries on these matters have already drawn a lot of understanding and support. 

This is not the first time Ramaphosa has dispatched an envoy to explain South Africa's stance. Earlier this year he sent a team led by his security adviser Sydney Mufamadi to the US to smooth the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to South Africa in August, hoping to avoid a diplomatic fallout that could put trade ties worth R400bn at risk. 

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant of arrest for Putin has placed South Africa in a predicament.

The docking of the Russian vessel Lady R in Simon’s Town in December has worsened tensions between South Africa and the US after ambassador Reuben Brigety accused South Africa of arming the Russians.

Ramaphosa told lawmakers South Africa is hosting the 15th Brics summit in August and the aim was to strengthen existing political, social and economic ties with fellow Brics bloc countries.

He emphasised South Africa's foreign policy stance is informed by the understanding that multilateralism and respect for international law are key to global political and economic stability.

“There have been concerted efforts to draw South Africa into the broader geopolitical contest around the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Yet, we have consistently maintained our non-aligned stance, our respect for the UN Charter and for the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue.”

He was referring to an effort by the West to force South Africa to choose a side in the Russia-Ukraine war. 

“Our understanding of non-alignment, which is distinct from the concept of neutrality, is rooted in the Bandung principles, which continue to guide the non-aligned movement. These include abstaining from the use of arrangements of collective defence to serve any particular interests of the big powers, and respect for justice and international obligations.”

Ramaphosa explained that from the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, South Africa's position has been that this conflict needs to be resolved through negotiation.

In a bid to bring about a peaceful and negotiated end to the war, South Africa will participate in a mission by six African countries to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“As we work to strengthen ties of trade and investment, we also seek to build support for a more inclusive, representative and equitable world order. We will continue to maintain an independent foreign policy and will use our presence in international forums to promote dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflict,” he said.

On the controversial docking of the Lady R in Simon’s Town in December, Ramaphosa said he recently appointed a panel headed by judge Phineas Mojapelo, to inquire into the circumstances of the docking.

“The panel is expected to complete its investigation within six weeks and to submit its report to me within two weeks of concluding its work,” he said. 


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.