President HH should have stayed away from this peace mission- Aaron Ng’ambi


President HH should have stayed away from this peace mission

By Aaron Ng’ambi

The purported peace mission to Kyiv and Moscow, was a very interesting initiative and undertaking spearheaded by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, this trip evidently had major hiccups from the get-go, including but not limited to the fact that it failed to meet even by biblical standards the bare minimum of what is required for two or more people to come together. The scripture in Amos 3vs 3, is quite instructive and asks a fundamental question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Unfortunately, it did not make sense overall, that the seven countries involved in this so-called peace mission had taken different official positions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The blatant truth is that when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly took a vote to condemn what was referred to as Russia’s full-scale invasion; Zambia and Egypt voted in favour of the resolution, Senegal refused to participate, while The Republic of Congo, Uganda, the Comoros, and South Africa abstained from resolution ES-11/4. This clearly shows that perhaps Zambia and Egypt should have taken time to reflect whether they should have been apart of this delegation in the first place or not. Sometimes we are left to wonder, as to who are the experts and advisors to President Hakainde Hichilema (HH), on matters of international relations and geopolitical strategies. Otherwise, it is very clear for any objective minds to notice in retrospect, that President HH should have stayed away from this mission trip and saved the county some tax-payers money. Actually, this was one of those occasions where his foreign affairs minister could have ably represented him and the country without fail.

According to the U S Department of State, “since 1978, the United States has provided Egypt with over $50 billion in military and $30 billion in economic assistance.” This kind of aid to one country by the US is unprecedented. Additionally, the US has invested $604 million to grow and digitalise Egypt’s telecommunications sector, imported $5.9 billion in U S commodities to construct, expand, and modernise Egyptian infrastructure. Thus, due to this strong bilateral relationship that has existed between Egypt and the US, President Abdel Fattah Sisi of Egypt did not go on this peace mission trip, but rather sent his prime minister to go meet with Valdimir Putin. In the same breath, why HH decided to go and meet President Putin himself, after condemning Russia within the walls of the UN is beyond comprehension. Perhaps, this is why Putin kind of gave our President a cold shoulder, as he welcomed the delegation to Moscow.

The video footage from Al Jazeera and other prominent media houses says it all. The body language of the President of the Russian Federation, shaking hands with President Ramaphosa, then sitting down with him and giggling, was indeed something to behold. At the same time, President Putin just gave President HH a firm grip, took a few pictures and then showed him where to sit. As for some other leaders on the delegation, Vladimir Putin was even seen not only giving them a handshake but also gave them a big hug as well. This is telling for anyone who knows and understands body language, later on understands the mind of President Putin.

Regrettably, as the African leaders met with President Zelensky in Kyiv, before proceeding to Moscow; the media reported that Russian increased its bombing of Ukraine with at least two explosions which rocked the capital and set off air raided sirens. If anything, this was a sign from the Kremlin expressing how the Russian government truly felt about this visit of African leaders. Unfortunately, it is becoming evident that President Putin is determined to fight this protracted war for as long as he has breath. There are no indications of him slowing down or completely withdrawing from Ukraine any time soon.

In fact, according to the former US Secretary of State Robert Gates’ book entitled Exercise of Power, he explains that at the 2007 Security Conference in Munich, Germany, the President of Russia made it clear to world leaders in attendance while gazing specifically at the newly appointed Secretary Gates, that should the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) attempt to expand an inch eastward, Russia will retaliate in defence of its interest. Therefore, the application of Sweden and Finland to join NATO and Ukraine’s application for membership in the European Union is unacceptable by any means.

This peace mission called for by Cyril Ramaphosa was misplaced and will achieve very little or no results at all in terms of ending the Russia-Ukraine war at a time when the African continent is engulfed with so many wars and conflicts.

Sadly, it appears that Africa tends to ignore her own problems at home, while doing everything to try and help the rest of the world in putting out their fires. Today, the Sudan is burning and we have not seen a delegation of heads of states from within Africa flocking to Khartoum in an attempt to arrest the situation. The sad case of perpetual instability in Somalia demonstrates that African leaders have continued to pay a blind eye to yet another serious problem at home. Also, the bloody civil war which broke out in Ethiopia would not have lasted longer than it did if African heads of states had descended on Addis Ababa, like they are excited to do so in Moscow and Kyiv. Another conflict which is worth mentioning and needs all the efforts and energies of African leaders, is the ever-on-going civil war in the Eastern DR Congo between the government forces and the M23 rebels.

Furthermore, lest we forget that President Ramaphosa has everything working against him at home from high levels of unemployment, increased crime rate, load shedding for extended hours every day, and his Phala Phala cash gate scandal. Hence, he hopes that this mission which he has championed will help him save face at home especially as South Africa goes to the poll next year. Otherwise, the much talked about peace mission to Moscow and Kyiv is definitely a misplaced priority, and simply a skillful international relations scheme for President Ramaphosa’s political survival.

In the final analysis, the naivety of our President and his international relations team must be done away with. Otherwise, this lack of sophistication rendered HH an embarrassment or rather a cold welcome by Vladimir Putin, which will make things even more awkward as President Hakainde Hichilema returns to St. Petersburg, sometime soon for the Russia- Africa summit.

The author is a political scientist with keen interest in global issues. Email:


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