by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa’s foreign policy is again under scrutiny amid the upcoming visit by Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.
He is scheduled to meet his local counterpart, Naledi Pandor, on Monday.
Pandor’s office disclosed the meeting between the pair was for bilateral talks.
South Africa’s main opposition, Democratic Alliance (DA), has slammed the planned visit.
Darren Bergman, DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, said the talks would only be welcome if they are to persuade Russia to cease all military operations in Ukraine.
South Africa has maintained a neutral stance on the issue but Bergman argued that the South African government’s recent actions, including permitting the Russian cargo ship the Lady-R, to come into local shores indicates that it is biased.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the South African government is openly siding with Russia – as also proven by their refusal to reject the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
“Not only is Russia sending their navy for war games to SA, their Foreign Minister will be hosted in Pretoria by the South African government,” the opposition legislator added.
Bergman warned the relations with Russia could have negative economic repercussions for the already struggling economy.
Bergman said the DA will continue to hold President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government accountable.
“We implore the ANC government to place the rights of people above government relations and interest.”
ANC is the ruling African National Congress.
Critics accuse the South African government of siding with dictators, under its so-called quiet diplomacy policy.
In 1992, South Africa became the first African nation to establish diplomatic relations with Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The two countries are also members of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) bloc.
– CAJ News