War: South African political parties clash over government’s stance

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South Africa's Economic Freedom Fighters party MPs in the South African National Assembly in Cape Town in 2017. PHOTO|AFP

The South African government is under fire to take sides on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The country’s main political parties have also clashed on whom to support. 

South Africa has neither condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nor supported it in what is viewed as a neutral stance.

But the issue has divided opposition parties in parliament who are now pressing the government to adopt a sterner stance on the issue. Pretoria enjoys cordial bilateral relations with both Russia and the West.

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Candith Mashego-Dlamini told parliament, “As the government of South Africa, we urge all South Africans not to take sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as this could go against our principles. In addition, we have good bilateral relations with both countries.”

Neo-Nazi propagandists

Soon after Minister Mashego-Dlamini’s speech, the vocal Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema met with Russia’s ambassador to South Africa, Mr Ilya Rogachev on Wednesday.

The firebrand leader pledged his support for Russia while castigating the West.

 “We met with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in South Africa, Ambassador Ilya Rogachev, in Tshwane today,” Mr Malema said.

“We received first-hand information on the ongoing military operations in Ukraine from the embassy, not from neo-Nazi propagandists.”

The EFF went on to take aim at Nato for the decision to “encircle Russia,” an action they described as a “security threat that must be averted.”

The opposition party accused Nato of committing war crimes and indiscriminately killing innocent civilians in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the EFF sides with Russia, South Africa’s biggest opposition political party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) differed.

DA leader John Steenhuisen views Pretoria’s seemingly neutral stance as siding with Russia.

Culled from TheEastAfrican

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