EDITORIAL | Pandor, Modise on the wrong side of history with Russia

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) is being received by South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor (R) within his official visits in Pretoria, South Africa on 23 January 2023.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) is being received by South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor (R) within his official visits in Pretoria, South Africa on 23 January 2023.
Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The ANC's continued support of Russia is an indictment on the party's commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, writes the News24 editorial team.

South Africans would rightfully have experienced a sense of shame when they saw International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor sing for her supper next to her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday in Pretoria.

The world's pariah has found a safe, welcoming haven in South Africa, while other countries who believe in democracy, human rights and sovereignty would have arrested Lavrov when he set foot on our shores.

Not South Africa, nor the ANC-led government that claims to champion human rights and the rule of law.

On the same day, Defence Minister Thandi Modise defended the government's decision to host a maritime exercise with China and Russia in February – exactly a year after Russia unilaterally invaded Ukraine in a war that has claimed more than 200 000 lives so far.

No hype 

We cannot imagine a more cynical event than playing war games with an aggressor like Russia on the anniversary of that country's invasion of an independent state.

In an amateurish attempt to justify the maritime exercise, Modise's office states "there was no hype" about other military activities with countries like the United Kingdom, Ghana and Nigeria in the past.

Well, Minister Modise, none of these countries unilaterally invaded an independent state when we hosted them in South Africa. If you do not understand why hosting an aggressor sanctioned from doing business with most democracies justifies "hype", you are genuinely not fit for your job.

For her part, Pandor sat quietly listening to Lavrov spreading lies about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's alleged refusal to negotiate a peace agreement with Russia. In the first place, why should Ukraine negotiate for peace when Russia attacked them?

Removed from Mandela's example

Secondly, Zelensky has been open to negotiations but with strict preconditions, like Russian troops withdrawing from Ukraine and occupied land being returned to the independent state. Who can blame him?

It was former president Nelson Mandela who refused to negotiate with the criminal National Party towards the end of apartheid when the Nats could not give an undertaking to immediately cease state-sponsored violence against activists. Mandela realised you could not negotiate peace over the barrel of a gun.

Unfortunately, the ANC of 2023 is so far removed from Mandela's example and ideals that the likes of Pandor and Modise increasingly resemble PW Botha and Magnus Malan instead of the struggle heroes of yore.

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