President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture: Themba Hadebe/AP.

Johannesburg - The DA says President Cyril Ramaphosa should use the country’s non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to resolve the crisis in Venezuela. 

The party said South Africa should play a leading role in returning Venezuela to an open democracy especially with regards to country’s declining economy. 

“Now that South Africa will hold a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2019 – 2020, we challenge President Ramaphosa to use our position on the UNSC to try to resolve the crisis in Venezuela and return the country to open democracy. South Africa must use its position on UNSC to advance liberal democracy and stand up for justice, freedom and human rights across the globe. The ANC government needs to stop siding with dictators, and thug-governments,” said DA leader Mmusi Maimane. 

Maimane met opposition members of Parliament from Venezuela on Friday. 

The MPs Miguel Pizarro and José Manuel Olivares, from the Primero Justicia party, signed a pledge with the DA to advance freedom and democracy. 

The two are visiting various countries in an effort to highlight the dire situation in Venezuela under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world but the country has been gripped by an economic crisis, with inflation now at 1 000 000%. 

A number of the country's citizens have fled the country due to food shortage and are seeking refuge in neighbouring South American countries. 

Maimane said the crisis in Venezuela was an example for South African about the danger of populist policies. 

“The Venezuelan story is a warning of the dangers of radical populism in South Africa. We must not be arrogant enough to think that it cannot be related here when many of the same social and political signs that existed in Venezuela in 1999 also exist in South Africa today,” said Maimane.

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