DA demands answers as to why ANCYL officials are acting as observers of Russian referendums

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Members of the Ukraine Association of South Africa protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the Russian embassy in Pretoria.
Members of the Ukraine Association of South Africa protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the Russian embassy in Pretoria.
Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius
  • ANCYL officials are acting as international observers of referendums which Russia is holding to validate its military annexation of Ukraine.
  • The DA's Darren Bergman said the ANCYL has committed a serious breach of international law.
  • Bergman called on the ANC to answer as to who paid for the trip and what motivated the decision.

The DA has accused the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) of legitimising Russian referendums which are aimed validating the annexation of Ukrainian territory by the Russian military.

ANCYL officials are acting as international observers of such referendums.

According to the DA's Darren Bergman, the ANCYL has committed a serious breach of international law.

"In doing so, the ANCYL is not only lending official credibility to these sham polls, but seemingly carrying the full weight and backing of South Africa's governing party, giving a blank cheque to other pariah nations and governments to annex whatever territory they please, knowing they will have the support of the ANC-led South African government," Bergman said.

READ | Ukraine ambassador to SA can continue her work despite 'unfortunate' critique of country's war stance

He described the ANCYL's actions as a flagrant disregard of international law as well as a violation of South Africa's Constitution.

"It is also in direct conflict with the ANC-led national government's official response to the conflict, which states that South Africa is non-aligned, and supports dialogue to resolve what is nothing more than a Russian attack on the sovereignty of a neighbouring country.

"The DA is calling on the ANC to clearly state who paid for the trip of the ANC Youth League members to 'observe' the voting in polling stations in the Ukrainian territories that the Russian military has conquered," he said.

Previously, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said South Africa could not be seen to be taking sides in the conflict after Russia's invasion of Ukraine because it goes against the nation's principles.

In February, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued a statement, in which South Africa called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine, in line with the United Nations Charter.

Days later, Pandor backtracked on her earlier statement that Russia should withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine.

READ | 'I don't want to die': Russians flee abroad after Putin's call-up

Furthermore, Bergman said South Africans had the right to know who funded the trip to Russia.

"If the ANC does not come clean and reveal who funded this trip, the DA will launch our own investigation to get the facts. We cannot allow the ANC to bulldoze through the Constitution and our international commitments to turn South Africa into a global pariah state," he said.

The convenor of the ANCYL, Nonceba Mhlauli, did not respond to a request for comment. It will be added when received.

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