Many South Africans have reacted angrily to the government’s decision to sit out a UN General Assembly vote meant to reprimand Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution to reprimand Russia for its invasion in Ukraine on Wednesday, 2 March 2022. Out of the 193 member states which voted, 141 were in favour of the resolution – and South Africa wasn’t one of them. A total of 35 countries choice to abstain, including China, which is an ally of Russia. While five – Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Belarus and Russia (of course), were against it.
When Russia first attacked Ukraine, South Africa joined the chorus of other countries calling for an end to the invasion and for the Kremlin to withdraw its forces.
“South Africa calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine in line with the United Nations Charter, which enjoins all member states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice are not endangered,” DIRCO said at the time.
But just days later, the Sunday Times would report that President Cyril Ramaphosa wasn’t happy with the statement, particularly given Russia’s ties with South Africa via BRICS. Ramaphosa apparently believes the statement contradicts South Africa’s position on the conflict.
DOES GOVERNMENT SIDE WITH RUSSIA? WHAT SOUTH AFRICANS SAY
There has been mixed reaction to news of government choosing to be neutral and not call out Russia. While others have actually lauded South Africa for not picking a side, others see the decision to abstain from voting to condemn Russia, as government tacitly supporting the Kremlin’s attacks on Ukraine.
“Sometimes you have to take a stand against a bully, that’s what brave Countries and their Countrymen did to help end Apartheid, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. Stop being cowards and stand for what is right,” said on Twitter user.
While another reckons government does in fact support Russia’s invasion, but won’t admit to it.
“You stand with Russia, you just lack the balls to stand firm in your position,” they said.