The Global South media on the war in Ukraine (16.06 – 26.06)
This issue is entirely to the reaction of the African media to the peace mission of the African leaders
- Perception of the peace mission
The Observer, a Ugandan weekly newspaper, published on June 21 the article “The sour milk of Africa’s aging leaders”, in which it stated that the mission could achieve its main goal, attracting the attention of global media to Africa. At the same time the mission distort the image of the African societies because the have been represented on the global stage by the old men.
“African leaders came together last week in the manner of a well-oiled enterprise dedicated to the art of futility. The African Peace Mission sought to make peace between Russia and Ukraine. They did well. The mission trended across global news headlines. Mama, we made it! We can also do hard things of futility. Many Africans watched perplexed, wondering how our African peacemakers flew over the burning fires in Sudan, the latest war arena on the African continent.”.
“The fighting in Sudan is now in its third month; last week, a governor from Sudan’s troubled Darfur region was killed in cold blood hours after he accused one of the warring sides of committing genocide. On June 17, as the mission posed for photos with the Russian president, 17 people including five children died in an airstrike in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The United Nations estimates that over 1,000 people have been killed in the conflict and about two million displaced within the country with more than half a million seeking refuge outside Sudan. So, yes, the much harder things that assail the African continent as detailed in last week’s article, Six African leaders posing for selfies in their burning backyards, continue unabated. In 2019, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, our favorite national uncle and strong advocate of ‘Africa’s Time is Now’, made a rallying call. Kagame posited, “I have always thought it is Africa’s time, we Africans, we have let ourselves down. We are now realizing it is Africa’s time and we need to seize every opportunity to be where we should be…The advice, therefore, is simple; let’s do what we know we have to do.” Are we doing what we know we have to do when our leaders step outside Africa to make peace as intractable fires blaze in our own backyards? The African Peace Mission comprises the presidents of six African countries: Congo Brazzaville, Zambia, Senegal, Egypt, Uganda and South Africa. Like an afterthought, the Comoros president joined the mission in his capacity as chairperson of the African Union.
As the pictures of the African Peace Mission members trended, it could not be unseen. The old men in dark suits posturing for the likes and follows on the world stage. For whom does the African Peace Mission speak? The median age of the mission’s members is 68 years. Last week, BBC Africa tweeted that 70 per cent of Africa’s population is under 30. Africa is the youngest continent with the oldest leaders – the median age of Africans is 19 years”.
“Mo Ibrahim, founder and chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, believes in Africa’s young people. Ibrahim wrote in 2013 that young people are best equipped to identify and deliver fresh solutions in a world that is changing at breakneck speed. Ibrahim noted that Africa’s aging leaders have little knowledge or interest in the dreams and aspirations of Africa’s youth – nor in passing on the reins of power.”. https://www.observer.ug/viewpoint/78244-the-sour-milk-of-africa-s-aging-leaders
South African media company Scrolla.Africa published on its website on June 20 the article “South Africa: Big Business Embraces Ramaphosa Peace Efforts”, in which it is stated that the peace mission of African leasers has been supported by influential South African corporations which face challenges due to the impact of the war in Ukraine on African economy.
“Organised business in South Africa has hailed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission to Ukraine and Russia, saying the war is already hurting African economies. Advocate Mtho Xulu, the president of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, slammed the DA and other critics of the African Peace Initiative, saying African leaders could no longer wait for the developed nations to plead Africa’s case in world politics. “We spend a lot of money building multilateralism on the continent and globally and we pay a lot of fees to make sure that we sustain a department like Dirco and our international footprint of embassies. “To say a mission like this is wasteful is not to understand how diplomacy works and how to become part of the global community,” said Xulu. He said business leaders had been in conversation with the diplomats from Ukraine and Russia regarding the opening of trade routes”.
“The direct impact has been on grain and fertiliser but that has a knock-on effect because food shortage would affect every citizen on the continent. “So any increases around food will have a knock-on effect because it puts pressure on existing incomes, so from a labour point of view you’ll have to increase wages which also increases input costs for anything that is produced on the continent,” he told Newzroom Afrika.
Ramaphosa said Africa’s plight could be desperate in the next few months because of rising food prices, the cost of fuel and grain. According to the African Development Bank, the conflict has “triggered a shortage of about 30 million tonnes of grains on the African continent, along with a sharp increase in cost.” The rand also remained unchanged, trading at R19.52 to the dollar on Monday – an improvement from R19.90 last week. The Russia/Ukraine conflict will also feature in the Russia Africa Summit in Russia in July, and the meeting of the Brics nations in South Africa later in the year”. https://scrolla.africa/big-business-embraces-ramaphosa-peace-efforts/
Vanguard, a daily newspaper published in Lagos, Nigeria, observed on June 17 in the article “African leaders urge deescalation after missile attack on Kyiv”, describing the African peace mission to Kyiv and Moscow.
“A delegation of African leaders met President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday and told Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate and negotiate, hours after sheltering from missile strikes on Kyiv. The high-level diplomatic team came to the Ukrainian capital to voice the concerns of a continent that has suffered from the fallout of the war, including rising grain prices, calling their visit a “historic mission”.
“Shortly after their arrival, air raid sirens sounded across the country, as Russian missiles were detected.”
“After talks with Zelensky, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the missile barrage showed that both sides needed to stop fighting. “This war must be settled and there should be peace through negotiations,” he told a news conference. “The launching of the missiles today does not deter us and has not stopped us from continuing to call for de-escalation,” he added. “It is precisely that type of event that we saw today… that makes us call for de-escalation,” Ramaphosa said, quoting Nelson Mandela several times on the need for peace. Zelensky rejected any negotiations with Moscow, saying he had made clear to the African leaders that “permitting any talks with Russia now, when the occupier is on our land, means freezing the war, freezing pain and suffering”.
He said in a statement he had called on the leaders to set out their views on how to stop the “crimes committed by Russia” and how to work towards food security. “But first of all, we must restore the full force of the UN Charter and stop this brutal Russian aggression and free our land,” he added.
“The delegation included four presidents: Ramaphosa, Senegal’s Macky Sall and Zambia’s Hakainde Hichilema, plus Comoros’ Azali Assoumani, who heads the African Union. The leaders of Uganda, Egypt and Congo-Brazzaville pulled out of the visit at the last moment and sent representatives instead. “In our view it is important to listen very carefully to what both countries have to say and tomorrow we are now going to listen to President Putin,” Ramaphosa said.”
Ukrainian officials were quick to highlight that Russia did not cease strikes during the high-profile visit. “Russian missiles are a message to Africa: Russia wants more war, not peace,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. France also condemned the bombardment, a foreign ministry statement saying they constituted “war crimes and cannot rest unpunished”. Ramaphosa dodged a question about whether South Africa would arrest Putin if he attended a BRICS summit there in August, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president. South Africa could hand over hosting the summit to another country to avoid being obliged to arrest Putin.
“We are discussing this matter on a continuous basis… In the end I am the one who makes the announcement about how this BRICS summit is going to be held,” Ramaphosa said. He also said he would hold a separate bilateral with Putin to discuss the summit. Analysts said the mediating effort could hope to win some concessions from the Kremlin ahead of a Russia-Africa summit next month. The African continent has been badly hit by rising grain and fertiliser prices and the wider impact on global trade since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
“This conflict is also affecting African countries negatively, touching on the livelihoods of 1.2 or 1.3 billion people on the African continent,” Ramaphosa said.
“African nations have been divided over their response to the war, with some siding with Ukraine, while others have remained neutral or gravitated towards Moscow. South Africa has drawn scrutiny as it has refused to condemn the offensive launched by Moscow. Both Russia and Ukraine have stepped up diplomatic initiatives with African countries divided over their response to the war. Putin has portrayed Moscow as a bulwark against the West, which he also accuses of blocking Russian exports of fertilisers. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that Russia has seen “very dynamic development recently of our relations with African states”. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2023/06/african-leaders-urge-de-escalation-after-missile-attack-on-kyiv/
- Reaction to the rejection of peace proposals
Daily Maverick, a South African online news publication and weekly print newspaper, published on June 16, the article “Zelensky rejects any proposal for a ‘frozen conflict”, in which it is stated that the Ukrainian President and the African Peace Mission differ in their approach to the conditions of truce.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking for the African Peace Mission to Ukraine, called for the deescalation of fighting as the first step on the road to peace. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky retorted that complete Russian withdrawal from Ukraine was the only route to ending the war. These sharply contrasting approaches emerged after Ramaphosa, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Comoran president Azali Assoumani and Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema met Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday, in a day full of controversy, frustration and some peril to the African leaders.”
“Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, and Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso pulled out of the mission hours before its departure on Thursday. In Kyiv on Friday warning sirens wailed and explosions sounded, forcing the African leaders and officials to duck into a hotel to use its bomb shelter during the day, Reuters reported. Strangely, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya disputed the reports of the sirens and explosions, reportedly telling News24 that the African delegation saw and heard nothing. “There’s obviously some deliberate misinformation being spread here,” Magwenya was quoted as saying, seemingly suggesting that Western interests were deliberately trying to discredit Russia in the eyes of the African leaders.”
“Yet later, when addressing the media after meeting Zelensky, Ramaphosa himself confirmed the attack and even used it to bolster his case, saying that “the launch of missiles today does not deter us and has not stopped our call for de-escalation. It is precisely this sort of event that we witnessed today or even experienced that makes us call for de-escalation. “There are offensives on both sides and we are saying there must be de-escalation as both countries proceed on the road to peace.”
“In a tweet responding to the meeting with the African leaders, though, Zelensky presented a very different road to peace. “It’s obvious that the cessation of Russian terror and the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukraine’s entire territory is what can stop this war. “Ukraine and the whole world do NOT need either frozen conflicts or wars on a slow burner. Peace is needed.
“Today we talked about the way to achieve a true and just peace without any Russian blackmail and deception…” he added. The complete rejection of a “frozen conflict” lies at the heart of the Ukrainian peace plan and also seemed to emerge as the key difference between Kyiv and the African peace mission. Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba had last week explained to African journalists that Ukraine did not want a ceasefire and only then for consideration to be given to the substance of a peace deal”.
“This, he suggested, would only freeze the conflict interminably. Ukraine’s concern is that a ceasefire now would perpetually lock in the current position where Russia occupies large swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine.”
“Ramaphosa nonetheless emphasised that the African leaders had listened to Zelensky’s peace plan “with deep respect to the people of Ukraine” and on Saturday would also listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin “to see how he sees the road to peace.” The African leaders are scheduled to meet Putin in St Petersburg. He added that the African peace mission had also taken cognizance of a number of other peace proposals made by others. “All viewpoints must be put on the table” he said. He also noted that the African leaders had pointed out to Zelensky that all respected the United Nations (UN) Charter as a key instrument for all countries and would also talk about the importance of the Charter in their discussions with Putin.”
““We are not the first to have called for peace and articulated the need for respect for the sovereignty of countries,” Ramaphosa said. On this point, Zelensky tweeted that “All the nations deserve to live freely without imposing an alien will politically or by military means. But no one can feel that their borders are protected and the safety of their people is guaranteed while Russia is trying to make aggression of foreign lands a global norm.” However, Ramaphosa also added, that another key element of any peace deal was that there should be security for all countries. “They should have a sense of security that their own sovereignty and standing is secured.” This seemed to be an implicit recognition of Russia’s claim that it felt its security had been threatened by the expansion of Nato up to Russia’s borders. It is not clear exactly what else the four presidents told Zelensky but Reuters had earlier reported that the African governments on the mission had written a draft framework agreement for attaining peace. It specifies several “confidence building” measures that should be taken to help create an environment conducive for a ceasefire, allowing the belligerents to build trust and to prepare to formulate their peace strategies.
These measures include a requirement for Russian troops to “withdraw to an agreed location to facilitate negotiations” and for Russia to remove its tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus. On the other side, the International Criminal Court (ICC) should suspend the warrant of arrest for Putin which it issued in March. And sanctions against Russia should also be lifted. Perhaps the main problem with the plan could be that it does not specify how far Russian troops should withdraw. And as Zelensky reiterated after Friday’s’ meeting, Ukraine has been adamant all along that Russia should withdraw entirely from Ukraine as a first step in any peace plan.” https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2023-06-16-zelensky-rejects-any-proposal-for-a-frozen-conflict/
Independent Online, one of South Africa’s leading news and information websites, published on June 22 the article “A push for peace should never be scoffed at”, written by Clayson Monyela, the Spokesperson of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (the foreign ministry of the South African government).
“From the start of the military conflagration in Ukraine, South Africa has called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and negotiations.”
“Until the announcement of the African Leaders Peace Mission to Ukraine and Russia, which took place last week, there has not been any concerted attempt by a group of Heads of State in the international community to find a sustainable resolution to the conflict, which has dragged on for over 15 months. South Africa has been part of a chorus of African leaders calling for a non-aligned approach to the war, arguing that developing countries should not be drawn into a contest between global powers. This stance of “active non-alignment” has often been confused with neutrality, but there is a crucial difference between non-alignment and neutrality. Non-alignment is a position whereby countries exercise the right to maintain an independent foreign policy based on the co-existence of states with different political and social systems and not take sides. Neutrality is a position whereby a country chooses not to get involved in a war. For much of the African continent, non-alignment has been a position that countries adopted during the Cold War, and many are committed to maintaining this approach now. Many countries of the Global South have rejected the West’s binary framing that they must choose whether they belong to one axis or the other. African countries are bound by the need to pursue their own national interests, which often requires them to stand back from conflicts that involve the big powers as they are all too aware that “when the elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.
The war in Ukraine has been devastating for the people on the ground who have suffered untold hardship as a result of violent conflict. But the people of the developing world – African countries in particular – have suffered greatly from the economic ramifications of this war. With food and fuel prices sky-rocketing, many of our own workers can no longer afford to pay the exorbitant taxi fares to and from work and over the course of the past year, the numbers of workers having to walk home as they can no longer afford transport has increased dramatically. Food price increases have also meant that many households can no longer afford to include protein in their diets or buy essentials like cooking oil.
The Presidents of South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, the Republic of Congo, Zambia and Uganda formed the contingent that proposed a peace plan to Ukraine and Russia, with President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, and President Azali Assoumani of Comoros travelling to the two countries in person with senior representatives from Egypt, Congo and Uganda. The objective had been to bring the sides closer to a possible resolution of the conflict. South Africa, Senegal and Uganda have taken a non-aligned approach to the war, and the recent SADC Summit reaffirmed the stance of Non-Alignment on conflicts outside the continent and the region at multilateral fora. Egypt, Zambia and Comoros voted against Russia last year in a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The pundits claimed that the African peace initiative would not make a difference, but it is an exercise in African agency. It is imperative that there are genuine attempts by members of the international community to stave off a massive military conflagration which appears to be in the offing.
Once red lines are crossed, it would put the entire globe at risk if the sides resorted to nuclear weapons. We no longer have the luxury of sitting back and watching the situation deteriorate further. For the sake of our collective futures, we needed to give peace a chance. The 10-point plan presented by the African leaders proposed that both leaders listen to one another, that the war must be settled through negotiation and diplomatic means, there should be a de-escalation of hostilities, that the sovereignty of states and peoples must be respected in accordance with the UN Charter, there must be security guarantees, the export of grain and fertilizers across the Black Sea must be ensured, there must be humanitarian assistance to the war’s victims, there must be the exchange of prisoners and captives, including children, there must be post-war reconstruction and better interaction with African countries. The value of this mission was that African leaders made their voices heard, and the leaders of both Russia and Ukraine have said they want to engage further. It was important that our President stated categorically that this war must end, and now it is for members of the international community to back up this message and support the ten-point plan”. https://www.iol.co.za/the-star/opinion-analysis/a-push-for-peace-should-never-be-scoffed-at-d0871980-02c8-4148-9614-40990874bcaf
O País, a daily newspaper published in Luanda, Angola, described on June 20 the peace mission of African leaders as completely unsuccessful in the article “African peacekeeping mission angers Ukraine and fails” (“Missão de paz africana irrita Ucrânia e fracassa”). According to the article, the African leaders did not manage to make Zelensky change his attitude to the idea of starting peace negotiations without preliminary conditions.
“The attempt by African leaders to mediate the war between Russia and Ukraine had no visible results other than angering the Ukrainians. The delegation speaks of sabotage. Has the peace initiative failed?”
“At his joint press conference with African leaders in Kiev on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made it clear that the mission’s aspiration to facilitate talks without demanding Russia’s withdrawal was doomed to failure. “Today, during our meeting, I once again made it clear that allowing any negotiations with Russia now, when the occupiers are in our territory, means freezing the war, freezing the pain and suffering,” Zelensky declared. The Ukrainian president watched some of the interventions by African leaders with an impatient and sometimes annoyed expression, even going so far as to scold them for the language with which they referred to the war. “My colleagues are constantly calling this war a ‘crisis.’ a series of major crises”, he stressed. Shortly before, from his pulpit next to Zelensky’s, Ramaphosa had called for “a de-escalation” of “offensives on both sides”.” https://opais.co.ao/mundo/missao-de-paz-africana-irrita-ucrania-e-fracassa/ (Translated from Portuguese by IISWU)
- Peace proposals of African leaders and further peace initiatives
Agence de Presse Sénégalaise, an Algerian national daily newspaper, published on June 18 the article “We want to create an atmosphere of trust for a dialogue between Russians and Ukrainians” (“Nous voulons créer la confiance pour un climat de dialogue entre Russes et Ukrainiens”), in which it is stated that the Russian government supported the intention of President Tebboune to help in starting peace negotiations.
”The African mediation mission aimed to end the Russian-Ukrainian conflict should be regarded as the expression of ”the good will of the African continent”. Its goal is to help “in the settlement of humanitarian issues and establish conditions that will create an atmosphere of trust, fostering negotiations between the parties,” declared the President of the Republic, Macky Sall. ”President Macky Sall stressed that this initiative, implemented by several governments, reflects the good will of the African continent. According to the Senegalese presidency, it is necessary bring to an end hostilities in order to start resolving humanitarian issues and create conditions for the dialogue between the warring parties”.
“The delegation, comprising the leaders of South Africa, Zambia, Senegal and Comoros as well as senior officials from Uganda, Congo and Egypt, arrived in the Russian city on Saturday, after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the day before in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine”.
“South African President Cyril Ramaphosa stated before Russian leader Vladimir Putin that “the war in Ukraine must come to an end ”. “For his part, President Putin says he is “ready for a constructive dialogue” with those who want peace. The Russian president highly estimates the example of African countries, whose approach to the Ukrainian crisis he considers to be balanced. “We are open to a constructive dialogue with those who want peace based on the principles of justice and taking into account the legitimate interests of the parties”, assures the Russian president. In Kiev, President Macky Sall specified that ”this mission is part of Africa’s commitment to the United Nations Charter, in particular the principle of respect for independence and territorial integrity of States. He promised that “Africa will spare no effort to contribute to the restoration of peace”. https://aps.sn/macky-sall-nous-voulons-creer-la-confiance-pour-un-climat-de-dialogue-entre-russes-et-ukrainiens/
(Translated from French by IISWU)
Algeria Press Service, a news agency based in Algeria, published on June 16 the article “The President of the Republic for a participative solidarity approach to the challenges of the day” (“Le président de la République pour une approche participative solidaire face aux défis de l’heure”), concerning the demand of President Tebboune to change the approach to the global issues. According to the Algerian president, the new approach to global challenges, including military conflicts, should appear and and careful consideration should be given to the interests of all countries, especially the poor ones.
“The President of the Republic, Mr. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, guest of honor at the Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), whose plenary session opened on Friday, pleaded for “a participatory and united approach” in the face of the challenges pose to the world an approach that takes into account the interests of all parties, especially poor countries”.
“The current challenges and crises require “coordination of the efforts of the international community in search of effective and lasting solutions”, considered President Tebboune in his speech during this session which he co-chaired with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. He praised he contribution of Russia which supplies and exports cereals to several countries of the world, in addition to contributing to the stability of international energy prices. “I call from this rostrum for the combination of efforts, and to work together within the framework of a participatory and united approach taking into account the interests and concerns of all parties, in particular poor countries, in the grip of disruptions and wars,” he said. President Tebboune also affirmed that “there is no winner in a war: all wars are lost”, wishing “prosperity and well-being to humanity, especially to poor people””
The President of the Republic also expressed his hope to see all the countries of the world make efforts to establish peace, promote social progress and help economic development of one another”.
Mr. Tebboune thanked his Russian counterpart for inviting him to the forum. No country “will be able to face, alone, the increasingly serious crises in our world today”, he said. https://www.aps.dz/economie/157091-forum-de-saint-petersbourg-le-president-de-la-republique-plaide-pour-une-approche-participative-solidaire-face-aux-defis-de-l-heure
(Translated from French by IISWU)