‘War party’ outrage: SA military salutes invasion at Russian cocktail party

While South Africa’s political elite are well known for their lavish parties, last week’s cocktail party at the Russian ambassador’s residence in Pretoria, has drawn outrage from the country’s main opposition party.

In a shocking revelation by the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen, on the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise, her department’s special advisor and the chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) attended a cocktail function at the Russian ambassador’s residence. This was in honour of the Russian Defence Force.

This comes amid unprecedented collective international condemnation of Russia’s onslaught against Ukraine which is currrently facing death and destruction last seen in World War 2.

Modise & Co: Sipping champagne at Russian cocktail party

The Russian Motherland Defender’s Day celebrations, hosted by the Russian ambassador to South Africa Ilya Rogachev and Russian Defence Attaché Colonel Dmitriy Priimachuck on Thursday 24 February, was boycotted by all North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) member countries.

But this did not stop Modise, her director-general’s special advisor Tsepe Motumi, and the chief of the SANDF General Rudzani Maphwanya, in full uniform, from clinking glasses and sipping champagne as they celebrated the power of an army that had just invaded its neighbour that very morning.

The invitation to a cocktail reception hosted by the Russian ambassador and Russian defence attaché. Image: Supplied/ DA 

DA slams ‘grotesqueness of this gesture’

Steenhuisen likened the minister’s attendance to “raising a glass to the might of the German army on the day that Hitler invaded Poland”.

“At a time when the world has chosen to stand united in its condemnation of Russia’s war declaration on a sovereign nation – when the staunchest Putin allies such as the Hungarian Prime Minister and the Czech President have turned against him, and when even China felt it had to abstain from a UN Security Council vote rather than support Russia – our own ANC government could not scramble fast enough to the wrong side of history,” said Steenhuisen.

“The grotesqueness of this gesture cannot be overstated. Imagine raising a glass to the might of the German army at the German embassy on the day that Hitler invaded Poland.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen

Where do ANC, Ramaphosa stand on Russian invasion of Ukraine?

According to Steenhuisen, the cocktail event took place only two hours after the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) had issued a statement calling for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine, in line with the United Nations (UN) charter.

“So now we have a Dirco Minister, Naledi Pandor, who seemed to sing entirely from the Russian hymn sheet in her SONA [State of the Nation] debate speech, only to have this reversed by her department in calling for a Russian withdrawal. But this was then immediately contradicted by the attendance of her ANC colleagues at an event glorifying the Russian invasion, and a complete row-back by the Presidency on the Dirco statement.

Steenhuisen further demanded of the ANC government and President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide clarity on their stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Steenhuisen: Russia a ‘global pariah state’

“How can the one hand not know what the other is doing during a major global crisis? Every other world leader has somehow found it possible to state a clear position. Why have we not heard from President Ramaphosa, in absolute and unambiguous terms, where he stands?”

He stated that Russia is now a “global pariah state” which has run out of friends and allies…”except down here in South Africa, where you will still find the last lonely outpost of support for a brutal regime that has no regard for international law or the sanctity of life. The ANC could not embarrass us more on the world stage if it tried.”

↯↯↯Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media ↯↯↯