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Mission to Ukraine, Russia ‘successful’, chimes Minister in the Presidency while chiding ‘negative’ SA media

Mission to Ukraine, Russia ‘successful’, chimes Minister in the Presidency while chiding ‘negative’ SA media
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. (Photo: Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)

The mission to try to end Russia’s war against Ukraine was heralded as successful, while the grounding of the plane carrying journalists and security officials in Poland for more than 24 hours ‘was just a small issue’, said Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday, told off South African journalists for focusing on the “unfortunate” incident involving the grounding of the South African Airways flight carrying journalists and security personnel in Warsaw for 26 hours — rather than the successes of the African Peace Mission.

The Minister was briefing the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on 21 June, on Thursday morning. 

“With regard to the flight that transported South African presidential security personnel and media representatives to Poland en route to Ukraine and Russia, [the] Cabinet noted the unfortunate events that unfolded when this flight landed in Warsaw, Poland,” said Ntshavheni. 

The Polish government had grounded the South African Airways charter plane at Warsaw airport, refusing to allow President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail of about 120 personnel, plus about 12 containers of weaponry and 11 journalists off the plane. After 26 hours, the security personnel and the team of journalists were eventually allowed to disembark the aircraft and were taken to a hotel in Warsaw, without their hand luggage. 

The Polish foreign ministry, in a statement, said the plane and security personnel had been grounded because of “a failure to comply with standard entry procedures required by the Polish side”.

The manner in which journalists and security personnel were treated by Polish authorities indicated that, in addition to poor planning by South Africa, systemic racism seemed to be at play. Presidential Protection Services head Major-General Wally Rhoode accused the Poles of racism and “jeopardising” the safety of the President by not allowing security personnel to offload their equipment and weapons, Daily Maverick’s Queenin Masuabi reported.

Read in Daily Maverick: What it felt like to be grounded in Poland on Ramaphosa’s African peace mission

Minister Ntshavheni said the Cabinet deemed the events in Warsaw “as unfortunate because everything was done properly”.  

“We want to indicate that on our part, everything was done according to the normal protocols.”

Ntshavheni said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is considering measures to be taken to address the incident in Warsaw. She said Dirco and the Police Ministry will give further details on the matter. 

“Cabinet noted that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation will pursue discussion on this matter through the appropriate diplomatic mechanisms and channels.”

Read in Daily Maverick: Response to grounding of African Peace Mission plane reveals very selective outrage

However, in response to questions, the Minister called the African Peace Mission “successful”, saying the plane fiasco was “just a small issue.” She said the government should not be lambasted for a “small matter — the focus should be on the peace mission and apologies were extended to journalists”. 

“Maybe we should not take the media [on] this kind of trip, we must just cover ourselves and go,” she quipped about future missions.

The Minister set off into what seemed to be a riff about South African media coverage of the saga in Warsaw and the other mishaps which plagued the mission since its inception. 

“Also — I do not know why — as South Africans, and South African media in particular, we are obsessed with finding wrong with an initiative that is being celebrated worldwide about the effort initiative of the African leaders,” said Ntshavheni. She added that it was the first mission of its kind to see African leaders engage both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents on a proposal for finding a way to end the war. 

It was a “significant milestone” in the possible peaceful resolution of the conflict, she said.

“So the focus on the negativity of our media in South Africa should not deter us from the efforts that this government and the African leaders are making in resolving conflict… 

“Despite our obsession with wanting to find negativity with this government, we must focus on the good that the government is doing, and give credit where it is due. We will accept the criticism where the criticism must be levelled. But where we have done well, commend us,’ she said.

Daily Maverick senior political journalist Queenin Masuabi, who was among the 11 journalists who travelled to Poland disputed the Minister’s claim of an apology. She said the Presidency’s silence on the issue “has been deafening”. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • James Francis says:

    I guess having your peace plan rejected and being lectured by your top funder now constitutes a success. Especially when he decides to bombard the city you’re in. It’s very evident that Putin has no respect for the President or ANC, because he knows they have no backbone and will toe the line. After all, he’s an expert at spotting such talent.

  • Clare Yeowell says:

    She is smoking her socks if she thinks South Africans believe this rubbish.

  • William Kelly says:

    I wanted to ask, as not one of the journalists that I have read have indicated an apology being received from the Presidency. Interesting the muppet of spin doesn’t define success. Was it to deliver a message that could have been done by carrier pigeon? Or that Zelensky received it, nodded, and proceeded to ‘move on’ as fast as his legs could carry him? He does, after all, have a war to fight and a country to liberate, but I suppose if you define success as asking Zelensky to ‘de-escalate’, then sure, by all means, claim it.

  • Michael Forsyth says:

    This Ministry lives in an echo chamber where it only hears itself. Tone deaf to anything else. Well, to be honest, that is the ANC for you.

  • rmrobinson says:

    Fantastic, so glad there are no more bombs to terrorise the people of the Ukraine. Please let them know this, when next they are blown to smithereens – its just an illusion.

  • priches says:

    Another ANC deployed cadre. Totally out of her depth.

    The ANC tells one story, the world tells another.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Pull the other leg madam!

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    This one is so full of herself she’s on constant brim.

  • Hermann Funk says:


  • Grenville Wilson says:


  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    This is a person who clearly trades in ‘alternative facts’ or lives on another planet…
    Did you notice that the media were stuck on the tarmac on a plane for 26 hours??

  • Ken Meyer says:

    For once I agree with the Presidency. Ramaphosa achieved what he set out to do: as the undeclared leader of the African mission he read out, on international TV. a 10 point plan that clearly startled Putin. Ramaphosa said that this “war” (he used the word a dozen times) has to end, it hurts other countries, esp in Africa, he said international rules have to be adhered to, chdren have to be returned to their homes (ICC Warrant is bases on this) and reconstruction has to take place. Putin then cut in with his usual rubbish about history, and the TV transmission was cut off. Ramaphosa came across like a statesman. Well done, despite the side show by Wally The Clown.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    What a smug, arrogant piece of work! An initiative that is being celebrated worldwide? Which particular world? The real one or the imaginary one that the ANC has conjured up to fool the uneducated masses?

    • Anton van Niekerk says:

      The world media completely ignored the event. There was one small reference to it in a New York Times news feed, which described it as a “curiosity”.

  • Isis Limor says:

    Did Russia withdraw? Is there a ceasefire? That would constitute a success… but given the ANC’s idea of success – hardly surprising they think it so.

  • Trenton Carr says:

    I’ll have what she is having, but only a little, can only have so much delusion before being locked up.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Successes? Please give us some details, because all I have sensed is the exact contrary.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Well they didn’t get blown up by Putin’s rockets, so there’s that.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    A typically moronic anc cadre. Clueless, inept, foolish and completely at odds with reality and ever so desperate to put a positive spin on a non-event and failure, which will make zero difference. Zelensky rightly rejected it and the evil and deranged Putin mass- murderer did as well, true to form, blaming the other side. Yet it was a success???

  • Ludovici DIVES says:

    14 -16 million rand spent with nothing to show ! the international embarrassment ! a small matter indeed madam.

  • 1957.tonycole says:

    The total arrogance and delusion is astounding. The sooner we get rid of these clowns the better. They must declare the manifest of the containers. I suggest the reason the Polish authorities refused entry was that weapons of war were in transit to Putin. By now the US will have all the details to add to the Lady-R fiasco. The ANC should learn that the real world is not beholden to their political delusion.

  • rmrobinson says:

    Why can the Africans not find it in themselves to stand with the Ukranian people? Is it that the suffering of people do not matter? I wanted to say people with white skins, but then I remembered that the suffering of Africans matters not an iota to the ANC. André de Ruyter tried to exhort service delivery by speaking about the interests of 60 million South Africans but that too het op dowe ore geval.

  • Cheryl Siewierski says:

    The ONLY peace talks that need to happen is for SA to tell Putin to get out of the Ukraine. He started it, and only he can end it. We are not buying any of this bs, Minister.

  • Nic van Wyk says:

    Read without meaning, see without meaning….

  • Penny Sawyer says:

    Why does the ANC delight in laying claim to such failed events ? Beating their chests abouta successful peace mission whilst the rest of the Jungle is laughing. hich including our favourite Jungle Bunny… Putin

  • Barbara Mommen says:

    Spinning the spin so hard, logic and reason has long been flung out of the window. And the belief that South Africans will be enamoured with the spin has an unfortunate lack of wings as a result of the dreary lack of political credibility our government has pressed upon itself.

  • bjee says:

    Arrogance, ignorance and stupidity – do they really think we will swallow this crap?? They must think we are all as stupid as they are. Which they probably do. Because of their stupidity, arrogance and ignorance.

  • Bruce Q says:

    I read all our public submissions, or comments, to this article and few appear to express the one fact that is plainly obvious:
    The ANC only speaks.
    It does not listen.
    It has no sense, or awareness of anything else besides itself.
    It honestly (hard to use that word within the context of the ANC) believes the absolute BS it spouts.
    Thus, it will not, cannot ever repair, renew, or fix the problems within itself.
    Thus, it cannot lead.
    Thus, it cannot build.
    Thus, it cannot govern.
    The ANC must go!

  • Robert Gornal says:

    It is not yet a complete success but will be once the USA revokes the AGOA deal, then we will know that the mission was a total success notwithstanding the cost in jobs and money.

  • arthur87 says:

    How can anyone take seriously people who have achieved nothing more than turning SA into a failed state. I was so excited in ’94 that SA would be the role model for Africa, instead it appears we see the rest of Africa as a role model for ourselves. All talk, no action, progress or results.

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