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It must be a little awkward, attending a G7 meeting while holding a supposedly neutral position on the invasion of Ukraine, only to have your Russian friends drop missiles on that most civilian of targets: a crowded shopping centre.
It’s presumably a sort of discomfort President Cyril Ramaphosa is becoming fast accustomed to, as he turns a blind eye to Vladimir Putin’s gross violations of both international and humanitarian law.
Even so, it’s deeply disingenuous — not to mention tone deaf — to then speak about the “silver lining” of the devastating conflict, which, he said, is that it could force African countries to become more self-sufficient.
Few would argue the continent couldn’t do with a buffer against the vagaries of global supply chains. But if this is your takeaway — rather than an illegitimate war that has pushed food security to the top of Africa’s agenda — that’s slathering lipstick all over the proverbial pig.
Sadly, it’s also the inevitable outcome of having to maintain the fiction that there’s no primary aggressor behind the mess.
There’s no elegant tap dance out of that diplomatic quandary. Ramaphosa’s “silent diplomacy” is working out as well for him as did Thabo Mbeki’s on Zimbabwe.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.