A woman places food on the grave of her son in Kharkiv, Ukraine, earlier this month. Photo: Getty Images
- South Africa offered to host peace talks between the parliaments of Ukraine and Russia, together with the United Arab Emirates.
- National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula hopes that Ukraine and Russia’s parliamentary leadership will agree to meet to pursue a “negotiated settlement”.
- In February last year, South Africa’s BRICS partner Russia invaded its neighbouring, sovereign state of Ukraine.
South Africa, together with the United Arab Emirates, has offered to host the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) facilitated peace talks between Ukraine and Russia in an effort to find a “negotiated settlement” to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced this while tabling a report of the IPU Task Force for Peaceful Resolution of the war in Ukraine at the 146th General Assembly of the IPU held in Manama, Bahrain, this week.
Mapisa-Nqakula is a member of the IPU Task Force which met for the eighth time since its establishment.
According to a statement from Parliament, Mapisa-Nqakula said the IPU team of peacebuilders had met eight times since its establishment in March 2022, six times virtually, and had a number of individual engagements with high-level parliamentary delegations of both Ukraine and Russia on the side-lines of the Kigali, Rwanda, and the Manama, Bahrain, IPU assemblies as part of ongoing efforts to broker peace.
READ | Parliament distances itself from resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
The IPU Task Force also undertook a physical visit to both Kiev in Ukraine and Moscow in Russia, where negotiations took place with the leadership of both Parliaments “to help end the war that has led to untold devastation, a humanitarian crisis and food shortages that affected many nations of the world,” according to Parliament’s statement.
The statement reads:
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula reported that the Task Force engaged a number of the multi-lateral organisations including the European Parliament to contribute in bringing the two warring nations closer to each other through negotiations aimed at peace building, ending the war, restoring territorial integrity of the nations, and bringing an end to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war.
“She said hopes remain high that the two-nations parliamentary leadership would agree to an in-person, same-table meeting to pursue a negotiated settlement and an end to the war in Ukraine, with the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of South Africa being ready to play host to such a crucial meeting between Russian and Ukrainian Parliaments.”
The IPU Task Force was established following a resolution of the IPU’s 144th Assembly held in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, last year to optimise parliamentary diplomacy as a contribution of global parliamentarians to finding a peaceful resolution of the war in Ukraine by engaging parliamentarians of the warring countries – Russia and Ukraine.
The South African government has been tacitly supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine under the guise of neutrality. While claiming to be part of the non-aligned groupings of countries, South Africa is part of BRICS, which includes Russia.
A Ukrainian soldier walks inside a destroyed barn by Russian shelling near the frontline of the Zaporizhzhia province, Ukraine. Harvest can not be collected in the area because the constant combats between Russian and Ukrainian armies in the fields. (Photo by Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
At the IPU assembly in March last year in Bali, Indonesia, Mapisa-Nqakula toed the party line, refusing to condemn Russia as the aggressor and saying it would be “wrong” to blame only one country for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the time, she said: “We are of the firm view that durable peace is needed in Ukraine and that our collective efforts as the international community in general and Parliament’s in particular should seek to help the two countries to find a peaceful solution. “In this regard, it would be wrong to simply and selectively blame one country. We urge both parties to fully commit to the peaceful negotiation process.”
At that assembly, the South African parliamentary delegation rejected IPU’s resolution stating that “the ongoing Russian use of force against Ukraine is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations, including the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The DA, who was represented in the delegation, distanced itself from this move.
READ | ‘Diplomacy and dialogue’ the only way to end Russia-Ukraine war, SA government insists
Last month, South Africa hosted Russia and China for naval exercises off the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Amid much international criticism ahead of the naval exercises, the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans said: “Contrary to the assertions by our critics, South Africa is not abandoning its neutral position on the Russian-Ukraine conflict.”
Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise attended an international security conference in Russia in August last year.
In October, South Africa was one of 35 countries that abstained in a United Nations General Assembly vote condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories.