President Cyril Ramaphosa, through his weekly newsletter to the nation, has reiterated South Africa’s stance that the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine must be resolved through negotiation and peaceful means.
This after the US Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, said that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia after a Russian vessel, known as Lady R, docked in South Africa in December last year.
“Consistent with our stance on conflicts in other parts of the world, South Africa’s view is that the international community needs to work together to urgently achieve a cessation of hostilities and to prevent further loss of life and displacement of civilians in Ukraine. It needs to support meaningful dialogue towards a lasting peace, which ensures the security and stability of all nations.
“As a country, we are committed to the articles of the United Nations Charter, including the principle that all members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means. We support the principle that members should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other States.
Our position seeks to contribute to the creation of conditions that make the achievement of a durable resolution of the conflict possible. The reality is that the Russia-Ukraine conflict – and the tensions that underlie it – will not be resolved through military means. It needs to be resolved politically,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President emphasised that government’s stance of non-alignment does not “favour Russia above other countries. Nor do we accept that it should imperil our relations with other countries”.
He explained that as President, he has met with USA President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reiterate this position of non-alignment and called for peaceful resolution of the Eastern European conflict.
“In all our interactions with these countries, we restate our belief that the United Nations remains the only viable mechanism through which the global community can strive for peace and common development.
“Yet the conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the weaknesses in the structure and practices of the United Nations. The composition of the UN Security Council, in particular, does not reflect the realities of the current global landscape. It needs to be overhauled so that there is equitable representation and a more inclusive mechanism for resolving international disputes.
“South Africa is a sovereign state, governed by a democratic Constitution and committed to the consistent application of international law. We will continue to fulfil our obligations in terms of the various international agreements and treaties to which we are signatories,” he said.
The President explained that South Africa has pursued an independent foreign policy since the advent of democracy and that it has come under “extraordinary pressure… to abandon its non-aligned position and take sides in what is in effect a contest between Russia and the West” since the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out.
“One of the most impressive features of the international anti-apartheid movement was that it drew support from countries and citizens from across continental and ideological divides. The struggle to end apartheid was taken up in capitals from Africa to Europe, from the Americas to Asia. Our leaders worked hard to gain the support of governments, lawmakers and citizens across the divisions of the Cold War.
“That experience – of reaching out across political divides and building relations with very different countries – has helped to shape our foreign policy. This has been coupled with a firm belief in the value of an inclusive multilateral world order and the peaceful resolution of conflict through dialogue,” he said.
Turning to the issue of the docking of the Russian vessel, the President said an independent inquiry headed by a retired judge will establish the facts of the matter.
“South Africa’s position on this issue was well explained by my envoy, Prof Sydney Mufamadi, and his delegation who recently travelled to Washington DC for discussions with representatives of the United States government.
“We are determined, in both word and action, to maintain our position on the peaceful resolution of conflict. Guided by the lessons of our history, we will continue to resist calls, from whatever quarter, to abandon our independent and non-aligned foreign policy,” President Ramaphosa said.
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