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Zuma backs Russia once again, calling Putin ‘a man of peace’

Zuma backs Russia once again, calling Putin ‘a man of peace’
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) greets then South African president Jacob Zuma during the welcoming ceremony at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia, on 9 July 2015. (Photo: EPA / SERGEI ILNITSKY)

As debate rages over South Africa’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Jacob Zuma has backed Vladimir Putin, an ally who shares common conspiracy theories.

As Russian forces continued their shelling of Ukrainian cities on Sunday, former president Jacob Zuma described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a man of peace” whose actions were justified in response to the threats posed by the US, and Nato’s eastward expansion.

Zuma’s support for Putin was to be expected after South Africa abstained from a United Nations (UN) vote condemning Russia’s aggression, as parts of the ANC are reluctant to support the West’s response to the invasion, with other party allies blaming the conflict squarely on the US and the West.

A statement from the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, written after Zuma “felt it would be remiss of him not to exercise his constitutionally enshrined freedom of expression”, repeated Russian talking points that Putin expressed both before and after the invasion.

Like many other ANC members, Zuma reportedly received training in the then Soviet Union during the struggle against apartheid and he revived South Africa’s relationship with Russia during his 10 years as president, including joining BRICS.

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene told the Zondo Commission that Zuma fired him in December 2015 for refusing to approve a nuclear deal with Russia’s Rosatom, which it was estimated would cost R1-trillion.

From the archive: How South Africans thwarted secret Putin/Zuma nuclear deal

A confidential document from 2014 that was leaked suggested the government had plans to award the deal to the Russian state energy company before other bidders had a chance to compete.

“The high-water mark for Russia-South Africa relations occurred during Jacob Zuma’s presidency (2009–2018),” said a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2019.

The report said that in exchange for becoming a member of BRICS, South Africa “appeared to set aside some of its traditional principles – specifically, noninterference in the affairs of sovereign states, the inviolability of borders and opposition to regime change”.

Under Zuma’s leadership, South Africa abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

In its statement on Sunday, Zuma’s foundation said Putin had been “very patient” with the West as he repeatedly explained that Nato’s eastern expansion was a threat to Russia. Ukraine’s Parliament has resolved to work towards joining Nato but there are no signs it will join in the near future.

Zuma’s foundation went further by dismissing Ukraine’s sovereignty: “Surely, in terms of efforts to achieving world peace, the sovereignty of Ukraine and all the democratic dictates cannot mean allowing Nato to establish a presence on its real estate, thus establishing an untenable risk to Russia.”

The foundation continued to argue that the US had invaded states it perceived as threats and that Western countries had hypocritically united against Russia while either leading hostile forces in the past or ignoring previous conflicts.

The foundation said it appeared “justifiable” that Russia was “provoked” and it was “quite fortunate” that Putin had the capacity to respond.

Ignoring the extensive negotiations in the lead-up to Russia’s invasion and Russia’s ongoing failure to adhere to a ceasefire to create humanitarian corridors, Zuma urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to negotiate.

“I am certain that His Excellency President Vladimir Putin will reciprocate and bring all in his power to make peace a reality, as I know him to be a man of peace who has worked hard to ensure peace and stability in the globe,” said the former president.

Calls for SA government to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Zuma did not mention Russia’s shelling of residential areas, the already 1.5 million people who have become refugees, or Russia’s alleged use of the internationally banned cluster bombs.

His comments come after South Africa abstained this week from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russian aggression and calling on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Shortly after the invasion, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued a statement calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal.

The country has stepped back from that position, reportedly after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s intervention, and has recently called for peace through dialogue and mediation, a backtrack clearly aimed at appeasing Moscow and ANC leaders who are cautious of appearing pro-Western.

Some scholars have supported the position, pointing to the UN and the West’s double standards on international conflict.

“I think it is entirely appropriate to do what the government has done. Why is it taking sides if you abstain and it is not taking sides if you vote for the resolution? If you vote for the resolution, you should be supporting the other side,” Professor Steven Friedman told the Mail & Guardian.

“The point in terms of the morality of this issue is that the bombing of Ukraine is totally unacceptable but so is the 70-year occupation of Palestine, and so is the bombing of Iraq, so is, to get back to Palestine, reduction of Gaza to rubble… the Saudis are bombing Yemen.”

The SA Communist Party noted the racism reported by minorities fleeing Ukraine and called Nato the “primary aggressor” in the conflict, blaming Ukraine, Nato and the US for the violence meted out by Russian troops.

For some leftists, the Russian illusion of socialism, which has long given way to kleptocratic and authoritarian nationalism, remains a rallying point against the dominance of the US and western Europe.

For others, that the traditional centres of capitalism and imperialism (ignoring Russia’s current efforts) are against Russia is a rallying point.

Zuma’s support for Putin goes beyond ideology. His foundation’s statement said he was removed from office as state president before he finished his term “by the Western forces using their forces that they are in control of within some structures of our government, and some that they control in the ruling party”.

Zuma resigned as South African president under pressure from the ANC in 2018 after Ramaphosa won the party presidency months earlier. In 2008, former president Thabo Mbeki was pressured to resign before the end of his term by Zuma’s ANC faction in a similar fashion.

The foundation mentioned the Constitutional Court case against the former president, which resulted in his brief incarceration, after Zuma refused to appear at the Zondo Commission or participate in the Constitutional Court hearings.

“In whose interest was this done?” the foundation asked, suggesting it was the same forces trying to bring down Russia with sanctions. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    One wonders how much ‘ loot’ is stashed in Russia by the local comrades, what with the numerous medical poisoning visits to that country. Perhaps not such a great investment place after all and thus the anti-sanctions retoric.

  • Craig B says:

    Just as well they locked up this old criminal in advance

  • Andrew Morgan says:

    There was a time when I just felt sorry for JZ for living in an alternative universe. In that universe State Capture could clearly be seen as a good thing.

    But now JZ calls a murderous thug who has no respect for individuals, countries or decency as a man of peace.

    Only the most SELFISH and GREEDY scoundrel who has taken a few pieces of silver from Putin could try their luck with this “man of peace” approach. For every civilian who has died and will die in the Ukraine I can only hope that karma will intervene. JZ must suffer for every evil he has ever perpetuated and that list is so long. May the compromised lawyers who have stopped him from paying his debt to society also experience this karma.

    For most of the world the Ukraine crisis has created a moment of moral clarity. It is so sad, but not surprising, to see JZ doubling down on all the bad choices he has made in the past. At least the evilness that is JZ is there for all to see.

    Poor South Africa to have to continue to live with the legacy of this reprehensible man.

    May the courts of the land make him pay a legitimate price for putting himself ahead of every other South African.

    Enough ranting for a Monday!!!

  • Chris Reed says:

    It’s always the JZ Foundation giving his statements. Does the Foundation actually do any good? is it audited to show where it’s money comes from or goes?

  • Dr Know says:

    Mr Z can thank the constitution for his right to exercise his freedom of expression, as if anyone cares about his bent opinions. His statement must be multiplied by his credibility which brings the total value of his contribution to zero. Not worth printing.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Don’t give this brainless moron any space. Just ignore him.

  • Peter Doble says:

    The warped thinking and absurd justifications only demonstrate how far apart the geopolitical alignments have become. We all share the blame for allowing these international criminals to grasp power and worse stay there.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Who cares what Putin-lite thinks about the Russian invasion – or anything else for that matter. You’re just giving him oxygen to maintain his ‘position’ as a ‘leader’. Stop quoting him and his foundation and he will soon disappear. Into a jail cell hopefully.

  • Change is Good says:

    What I question all the time, is why we give space in our media to a man that should no longer be important in our dialogue with the world.

  • Ian Wallace Wallace says:

    Why is Daily Maverick giving this thug air to breath?

    Stop wasting editorial space on him.

  • Laurence Erasmus says:

    When is the CC going to send this thug back to jail?

  • Ingrid Olivier says:

    Very concerning. I wonder how much support the RET faction has from Putin?

  • Charles Parr says:

    JZ might have let the country down very badly but he never fails to play to his audience.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Dumb and Dumber 3 out already?

  • Nos Feratu says:

    A worthy recipient of The Order of the Pit Latrine

  • Smudger Smiff says:

    Marxist ANC toe rag.
    Perhaps President Frogboiler will incorporate the following into our national anthem?
    “The people’s flag is deepest red
    It shrouded oft our martyred dead
    And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold
    Their hearts’ blood dyed in every fold
    Then raise the scarlet standard high
    Beneath its folds we’ll live and die
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We’ll keep the red flag flying here”

  • Russ H says:

    Do not give the scumbag oxygen !

  • Russ H says:

    Do not give the thug oxygen !

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    jz and every imbecile walking the earth is expected to support putin and his power trip.

  • James Miller says:

    No surprise really. Imagine if Zuma, through his foundation, had recognized what is plain to see; that the war in Ukraine is unnecessary and unjustified, and is being waged on the insistence of just one man: Putin. Now that would have been astonishing.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Spelling error by former prisoner Zuma : Putin is a man of pieces. He collects pieces of other countries by military means.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Zuma, go back into the hole you came from. You have no authority to speak and certainly not when Putin is bombing and killing innocent people. your idea of peace must be the same as all the money you, the Guptas and the ANC cadres have stolen

  • Marianne McKay says:

    Just ugh. They deserve each other.

  • Gerald Tait says:

    As semi – literate as he is, he obviously cannot read newspapers and his t v is probably not working as his electricity bill is unpaid.

  • Craig B says:

    Two old men criminals

  • Hulme Scholes says:

    Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if all media houses and reporters decided collectively to simply stop giving this clown and his “foundation” any airtime. He can’t even read what is written about him.

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