The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) on Tuesday said it’s not South Africa’s place to be hostile towards Russia, amid the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
It has over year since Russia’s full-scale invasion and South Africa insisted on its stated neutrality on the matter.
Dirco’s Minister Naledi Pandor said they would not vote against Russia if it didn’t align with the country’s values.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) called on the defence ministry to explain the purpose of South Africa’s ground forces commander’s visit to Russia.
Russian news agencies on Monday revealed that lieutenant general Lawrence Mbatha was heading a delegation to discuss “issues relating to military cooperation and interaction” with their counterparts.
Last week, United States (US) ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety claimed that a Russian cargo ship, known as The Lady R, left the Simon’s Town Naval base in Cape Town in December with South African arms on board to support Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The Presidency denied this and an independent inquiry, led by a retired judge, will be established to investigate the claims.
But as South Africa and the US try to mend ties, it emerged that the country’s and Russia’s military are trading arm combat readiness intelligence.
“This unsolicited visit is the latest incident in a string where the South African government clearly and unashamedly demonstrates its support for Russia,” said DA member of Parliament Kobus Marais.
“The DA calls on the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, to address South Africans and explain to the country what exactly the purpose of this visit is, paid for by the taxpayer.”