A poll conducted on behalf of The Brenthurst Foundation has revealed that 74.3% of South Africans believe that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “an act of aggression to be condemned”, while only 12.7% believe it is “an acceptable use of force”.
This suggests that the South African government, which has refused to condemn the invasion and has even embarked on joint military exercises with Russia, is hopelessly out of touch with its voters, who believe the country should offer moral, diplomatic and even military support. to democracies that are invaded by their neighbors.
The poll also showed that three-quarters of ANC voters, around 74%, agreed that the Russian invasion was “an act of aggression that must be condemned”, while only 14% of ANC voters ANC said it was “an acceptable use of force”.
The ANC Youth League has actively supported Russia, visiting occupied Ukraine to “observe” the fake referendums that were held in the occupied territories. Khulekani Skosana, a league official who participated in the observation mission, said: “We will go back home and tell our people that it has been a beautiful and wonderful process.”
Then the South African government abstained from voting on a UN resolution condemning the bogus referendums. The resolution passed with 143 countries voting in favour. South Africa was among the 35 countries that abstained.
This, again, is totally at odds with the views of ordinary South African voters. When asked what South Africa should do if a sovereign democratic country is invaded by its neighbor, 32.6% said “offer moral support”, 27.3% said “offer military support” and another 22.6% said “ offer diplomatic support. Only 7.9% said that South Africa “should not offer support”.
Explaining why South Africa had abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning the Russian invasion, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said: “South Africa, the countries of the continent and several other members of the Global South who see affected by the conflict have tried to assert their independent and non-aligned views on the matter.
President Cyril Ramaphosa even went so far as to blame NATO for the Russian invasion, saying: “The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings of its own leaders and officials over the years that its expansion into the east would lead to more, not less, instability in the region.”
joint naval exercise
And in early November, South Africa finalized arrangements for a joint naval exercise with Russia and China scheduled for February.
But South Africa’s flirtation with Russia and China also seems at odds with ordinary South Africans’ views of these countries.
The survey showed that South Africans identify with Western countries and countries on the African continent far more than they admire Russia and China. When asked “If you had to leave South Africa, which country would you choose to go to?” 51.9% cited Western countries, 16.6% said other African countries, while only 4.1% said Russia. , 3.6% said China and 2.4% another BRICS partner India.
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Opinion on the Russian invasion of Ukraine coincides with the finding that the majority (51.5%) of South Africans surveyed believe that the ANC government of the last three decades is responsible for the problems facing South Africa, while only the 8.8% blame apartheid, 7.4% racists, 3.3% the BEE elite and just 0.6% the Democratic Alliance.
The survey was conducted between October 27 and November 10, 2022 using in-depth 15-minute telephone interviews with a representative group of 1,000 South Africans by the SABI Strategy Group on behalf of the Brenthurst Foundation.
The full results of the election poll will be released later this week. MD
Greg Mills is director of The Brenthurst Foundation and Hartley is Director of Research.