Africa’s tolerance for coups “no longer exists”, says Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the African Union and its Member States are demonstrating that the acceptance of unconstitutional takeovers of governments on the continent will not be tolerated.

The Head of State was briefing media following the official State visit of the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, General Umaro Sissoco Embaló, on Thursday.

The West African country was involved in an attempted coup earlier this year.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that South Africa has always advocated for peaceful negotiation in any conflict situation.

“As a continent, we have a lot to learn from our previous experiences. We also, equally, have a lot to learn in the way that ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] is dealing with these – much as it is experiencing a spate of coups. The determination and the decisiveness in the leadership of ECOWAS is something that stands out as a very good example for the rest of the continent.

“I think the continent is moving and maturing towards a state where tolerance for coups and acceptance of coups is now a thing of the past. The AU has taken a very clear and strong position on this, and I think it sends a very strong and important message to those who would want to perpetrate coups that they will have no place to hide and action will also be taken against them.”

President Ramaphosa reflected that Southern Africa has experienced “relative” stability over the last few years, with only a few countries facing difficulties.

“The only sense of instability has been in Mozambique, for instance, in Cabo Delgado with insurgents… Lesotho has largely resolved [its challenges] and they are moving forward with their elections and reforms so that in many ways behoves well for greater stability  not only for our region but for the rest of the continent.

“I do believe that the guns should be silenced as soon as we move forward as the African Union as well,” he said.

Russia/Ukraine conflict

President Ramaphosa told the briefing that he believes talks between Ukraine and Russia on the ongoing conflict are a step in the right direction.

“We have, as South Africa, been calling for negotiations and our call for negotiation is based on the principle we have always held… that conflicts should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. We were well taught by the great Nelson Mandela, who always thought that conflicts should be resolved in that way,” he said.

The President has previously had conversations with leaders of both nations, urging them to have a dialogue to end the conflict.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s discussions and meetings is something that we believe is a step in the right direction. In my discussions with them separately, I stressed that it is through negotiations and dialogue that this conflict can be resolved, and we are really pleased that that is now underway.

“We are really hoping and wishing and praying that it should lead to an agreement that will lead to a cessation of the hostilities and the end of the conflict as well, so that the lives of the people in both countries, and largely in the Ukraine, can be restored and peace can find fertile ground once again,” President Ramaphosa said.