SA slated for abstaining from UN vote against Russia

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Condemnation from one political party and another telling government to ensure its own house is in order before pointing fingers are current reactions to South Africa abstaining from this week’s United Nations (UN) General assembly vote against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The reactions came from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) after South Africa via its permanent UN representative Mathu Joyini, was one of 35 countries to abstain. A hundred and forty-one countries voted for the UN to reprimand Russia for its actions in Ukraine with five voting against.

Ambassador Joyini, according to SAnews, justified abstaining and “urged all sides to uphold international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“The conflict involves two UN members in an armed conflict, which this organisation has at its foundation, the responsibility to prevent.

“The UN must take decisions and actions that will lead to a constructive outcome, conducive to the creation of sustainable peace between the parties.”

Darren Bergman, DA shadow deputy minister of international relations and co-operation, called South Africa not using its General Assembly vote “appalling”.

“Abstaining or voting for Russia is a sign one is complicit or condones a military invasion into Ukraine. We call on South Africa to hold Russia accountable to international law in line with the Geneva Convention and ensure no weapons on the list of the Lieber Code are used,” he said in a statement adding it was “unbelievable” President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government exposed its double standards on human rights as well as “taking away the last of their claim to moral legitimacy”.

As a make good, Bergman urged government to “use” its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) membership to engage with President Vladimir Putin as regards Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.

“The South African government still has a chance to make a stand and it must do what’s right.”

More forthright was FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald who said bluntly: “South Africa must ensure its own house is in order before telling other countries what and what not to do”.

“The ANC government must first do serious introspection before it concerns itself with security related situations elsewhere,” he said in a statement.