SA to Hold Urgent Debate on Russia's Invasion of Ukraine
SA to Hold Urgent Debate on Russia's Invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Ukraine Ambassador to SA on FB

The Speaker of the National Assembly has agreed to a request from the DA for an urgent debate on the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on South Africa.

Yesterday, in the face of the national government’s ambiguous stance, the DA-led Western Cape Government issued a statement unequivocally condemning “Russia’s illegal invasion of a sovereign state and the harmful position taken by the South African National Government”

DA Leader John Steenhuisen said in a statement on Thursday: “We do not believe that the ANC government’s decision to remain ‘neutral’ – which really means they have chosen to side with Russia – is a true reflection of South Africans’ position on this matter. It certainly is not in the national interest. On the contrary, it will cause our nation profound harm.

“It will drive up food and fuel prices at a time when most South Africans are already battling to feed their families and to afford transport. Oil and gas prices are already spiking globally, and these are having a knock-on effect on the prices for food and consumer goods.”

Steenhuisen also pointed out that SA needs support right now, and “apart from the ethics of our position, we as a nation simply cannot afford to side with Russia against the West. We risk losing investment, loans, trade deals, foreign aid and myriad other forms of support.”

Premier Winde explained yesterday that, while it is unusual, his province felt it essential to declare its strong condemnation for Russia’s invasion “to make clear to our own residents, to the people of Ukraine, and to the rest of the world that we cannot and will not remain ‘neutral’ in the face of such a cruel attack on the democratic values that we all hold dear.”

He said the Western Cape Government considers “the aggression by the government of the Russian Federation a violation of international law, and we call for an immediate ceasefire and for a full withdrawal of their armed forces from Ukraine.”

He added however that “we also acknowledge that many Russian citizens are themselves standing up and protesting against this war, and thousands have been arrested as a result. This anti-democratic clampdown also requires condemnation in the strongest terms.”

Winde will seek to meet with the Ukrainian Ambassador to South Africa to communicate the province’s position.

He said no Russian Embassy or Consulate official or their staff will be invited to any event or meeting organised by the Western Cape Government and the Western Cape Government will not attend any events or meetings organised by the Russian Embassy or any of its Consulates.

“I repeat again: we cannot and will not remain silent in the face of an international crisis that threatens the very foundation of our liberal international order,” said Winde.

Steenhuisen said today: “I am proud that DA-led governments across South Africa are on the right side of history. We will do what we can to bring the whole of South Africa along with us.”