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You can’t expect ANC to take a moral stand against Russia. It ...

Ideas

You can’t expect ANC to take a moral stand against Russia. It has no morals

What we’re seeing in Ramaphosa’s response isn’t realpolitik, cowardice or nostalgia. It’s moral bankruptcy

Contributor and analyst

Given how badly the ANC-led government is running the country, it cannot surprise us that it’s unable to respond to a major international crisis, such as Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, with moral clarity. Our government pretends to have a deep commitment to human rights, but in reality it is consistently found wanting, domestically and in the posture it adopts regarding global affairs.

The first foreign policy embarrassment we witnessed this past week was incoherence. Incoherence is worse than siding with an oppressor. It leaves your citizens confused. It leaves our allies confused. It makes it hard for other actors within the international arena to know what to expect of you and therefore reduces your alliance-building bona fides. Simply put, no one can trust a state that is incoherent. Even controversial positions held with some consistency are better than incoherence. It simply makes us look as if we have no idea what we are about morally and politically.

When government argues slavishly for dialogue the one moment, then for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine the next, then almost immediately thereafter seemingly apologises for asking Russia to withdraw, before finally showing off naked tension between the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) and the presidency, it all becomes as clear as mud what SA’s position is. We should probably expect a judicial commission of inquiry soon into how Dirco came to release a statement that reportedly annoyed President Cyril Ramaphosa. After that, of course, we can expect another commission to be set up by Ramaphosa to tell him what his foreign policy should be. Because, you know, indecisiveness and the president are easy bedfellows...

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