SA Defence Minister 'Embarrassingly' Attends Moscow Conference
SA Defence Minister 'Embarrassingly' Attends Moscow Conference. Photo: iStockPhoto

South African Defence Minister Thandi Modise’s presence at a Russian Conference has been labelled as “embarrassing” and “poor judgement” by DA Shadow Minister of Defence, Kobus Marais.

Modise is not only attending the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security, but is “touting” Russia as a “peace-loving” nation, according to the DA.

Marais says it’s “extremely worrying as Russia has been embroiled in a war against Ukraine for the past 6 months after instigating an invasion”.

Modise said in a press release on Monday: “South Africa stands ready to work with all peace-loving nations of the world, through relevant multilateral bodies, to contribute meaningfully towards lasting peace in the world.”

The Moscow Conference, which runs from 15 to 17 August, is being attended by Ministers of Defence from different countries as well as experts and key stakeholders in the military field. The objectives are to share practical ideas and explore solutions on matters of global security.

Modise is set to address the conference on Tuesday and is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Russian Defence Minister General Shoigu on the margins of the conference.

Marais accused the ANC government of having a blind spot when it comes to its “war-mongering comrades, which does not bode well for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)”.

Marais said: “If Minister Modise and her comrades in Cabinet are unable or unwilling to acknowledge the truth of Russia’s atrocities, they will never be able to address the reality of the serious concerns plaguing SANDF and the rest of the country.

“Instead of appeasing Russia, the Minister must pivot this wasted and fruitless expenditure into an opportunity to call for peace in Ukraine. The DA also encourages her to visit Ukraine and see the destruction for herself.

“The devastation has not been confined within Ukraine’s border. The war has had far-reaching implications on the world’s economy, and has increased the massive financial burden of all South Africans. Minister Modise must understand that ordinary South Africans are struggling and starving and emboldening Russia will only cause further havoc.

“Minister Modise must have forgotten the damage her previous party with her Russian comrades had on South Africa’s foreign image. The country cannot afford a similar fallout. In fact, we find it shocking that the Minister can justify this visit financially – given SANDF’s dire straits – never mind morally. All in a day’s work for a Minister who celebrated and drank champagne with the Russians while they were invading Ukraine.

“The money being wasted on Minister Modise’s trip should have been channeled into capacitating the Defence Force. The Minister must account for her poor decisions before the parliamentary portfolio on defence. The men and women putting their lives on the line to defend South Africa deserves a Minister who cares more about them than about appeasing her Russian comrades.”

South Africa and the Russian Federation have signed a number of military-related bilateral agreements, which – the SA government said today – are yielding significant benefits for both countries. –