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Confusion on SA’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

There seems to be some confusion as to the position South Africa has taken on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued a stern statement calling for Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

On Saturday the South African Ambassador in Ukraine, Andre Groenewald, said he was working with neighbouring countries to help evacuate South Africans trying to flee the country.

But earlier on Sunday, during a briefing by the justice cluster, Defense Minister Thandi Modise contradicted that messaging, shared a more neutral view.

“We have not been told officially that South Africans wish to be evacuated either from Ukraine or from Russia. You will know that South Africa believes in dialogue, we are hoping that dialogue will actually be followed in this situation and that’s all I can say. If and when the need arises we will inform you”.

When asked whether there was a discord between President Cyril Ramaphosa and the International Relations Department, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele had this to say:

“The President was very clear on the matter as the commander in chief as regard to mediation, negotiation. Over and above that it is the stance of the country more particular the last cabinet will always prefer peaceful solutions of conflicts, we will always be opposed to any conflict that leads to loss of life, we are not to comment beyond that”.

The Presidency, which did not see of the statement before it was issued, said it believed it was contrary to Ramaphosa’s position, which was only to encourage mediation between the two sides.