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South Africa’s Ramaphosa Resists Geopolitical Pressures

June 1, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—TASS noted today that South Africa has come under extreme pressure in recent months from the U.S. and the European Union, demanding that it curb ties with Russia and China. A case in point was the charge made by U.S. Ambassador Reuben Brigety on May 11, that South Africa was providing Russia with weapons, contrary to its claim of neutrality on the Ukraine war. At the time, Brigety loudly complained about South Africa’s non-alignment and claimed that the BRICS was being promoted as a “counterpoint to the G7.” After South Africa’s foreign ministry summoned him to deliver a démarche on May 12, Brigety publicly apologized.

Yesterday President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking before the National Assembly in Cape Town, described how there had 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.

“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....

“From the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, our position has been that this conflict needs to be resolved through negotiation. South Africa is pleased to participate in a mission by six African countries to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.” Ramaphosa then announced that he intended to send four of his senior ministers, headed by Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, “as my envoys to the G7 countries to explain our peace mission....”

On May 16, Ramaphosa had announced in a joint press conference with visiting Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong:

“Over the [May 12-13] weekend I presented an African leaders peace mission to President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during separate telephone calls. Principal to our discussions are efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict in the Ukraine, its cost in human lives and impact on the African continent. In this regard, I presented the initiative on behalf of African Heads of State, from Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa. The two leaders agreed to receive the mission and the African Heads of State, in both Moscow and Kiev. I agreed with both President Putin and President Zelenskyy to commence with preparations for engagements with the African Heads of State. The Secretary General of the United Nations was briefed and welcomed the initiative.”

The next day, the director of the foreign ministry (DIRCO) Zane Dangor briefed lawmakers on plans in early June by the six heads of state to “be shuffling between the two capitals to engage in the facilitating of peace talks to at least get toward a ceasefire.”

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