Six African leaders are making plans to travel to Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible” to help find a lasting solution to the war, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have agreed to receive the mission and the African heads of state in both Moscow and Kyiv,” Ramaphosa said.
According to Ramaphosa, he had held “separate telephone calls” with Putin and Zelensky over the weekend, where he presented an initiative drawn up by Zambia, Senegal, the DR Congo, Uganda, Egypt and South Africa.
“I agreed with both Putin and Zelensky to commence with preparations for engagements with the African heads of state,” Ramaphosa noted.
“We’re hoping we will have intensive discussions,” he mentioned while speaking at a press conference in Cape Town during a state visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the AU have been briefed on the initiative and welcomed it,” Ramaphosa added.
He, however, missed to give a specific timeline for the visit or other details, noting that the conflict had been “devastating” and Africa “is also suffering a great deal” from it.
African countries have been badly hit by shooting prices of grain and by the impact to world trade.
The announcement came a day after Ramaphosa said South Africa had been under “extraordinary pressure” to pick sides in the conflict, following accusations from the US that Pretoria supplied weapons to Moscow — a move that would break with its professed neutrality.
In March, Ramaphosa had been called upon by South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen, to arrest Russian leader Vladimir Putin should he step foot in the country.
A warrant of arrest for Putin had been issued by the International Criminal Court on March 18, 2023, as a result of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, for which war crimes are alleged to have been committed.
Due to South Africa’s signing of the Rome Statute, Mr. Steenhuisen said the country must cooperate with the ICC and help put President Putin behind bars if he lands in South Africa.
“I think that any responsible president would advise Putin, given the ICC arrest warrant, that he should perhaps not come,” said Mr. Steenhuisen.
“But if he does come, I think South Africa is obliged — if it’s for the rule of law and (if you) govern according to the constitutional principles — you would be obliged to execute that arrest warrant.”
“If he is here, we have a legal obligation. The principle of the rule of law means equality before the law, and South Africa is obliged to execute that. We have not left the ICC. We’ve remained signatories. Putin must be arrested,” he added.
Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations in South Africa, confirmed that Putin is scheduled to attend the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in August despite a later mention that he could attend via zoom.
This is simply laughable 🤣. The African continent is burning 🔥 and got the decency to send ill equipped, ill trained soldiers??? Only in Africa.