A team of senior officials is already on the ground in Moscow and Kyiv to prepare for the visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa and other leaders on the continent to lead peace talks between the two countries.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the peace mission by six African leaders was in the interest of the continent as it has been affected by the war with soaring prices for grain and fertiliser.
This peace mission will not be in isolation to other peace plans initiated by Russia, Ukraine and China.
He said the visit by Ramaphosa, the president of Senegal Macky Sall, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt had been endorsed by other world leaders.
Magwenya said when Ramaphosa called President Vladimir Putin of Russia, his counterpart from Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said they were all behind the peace mission.
President Joe Biden of the US, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the UK, and other world leaders also backed the peace mission by the African leaders.
Magwenya, who was briefing the media on Monday, said this was an important visit by the leaders.
“We have a severe threat of food security as a continent. The conflict has increased the risk of food insecurity across the continent. We have seen an increase in prices of grain and fertiliser. The price of not acting will far outweigh any cost that any of the six countries are going to incur as a result of this peace mission,” said Magwenya.
He added that this initiative has been supported by all the leaders.
“I have just shared facts with respect to the origins of this initiative as well with respect to how this initiative has been received, which was always encouraged by a number of global leaders, including President Biden, Prime Minister Sunak and other leaders.
“We have teams on the ground both in Russia and Ukraine who are working on preparation for the visit of the African heads of state who are part of African leaders’ peace initiative,” said Magwenya.
He said Minister in the Presidency for State Security Khumbudzo Ntshavheni is travelling to Moscow on this matter.
“Minister Ntshavheni has said in her statement, communicating her visit to Russia, the visit is in preparation for the African heads of state that will be travelling to Moscow,” said Magwenya.
He added that the president will soon announce the retired judge who will head an inquiry into the allegations of arms sales to Russia as alleged by US Ambassador Reuben Brigety two weeks ago.
The presidency was busy finalising the terms of reference for the inquiry.
Magwenya said they still deny that South Africa had sold arms to Russia as there has been no evidence to back up this claim.
International Relations and Cooperation Department Director-General Zane Dangor also said two weeks ago, when they were in the US with Ramaphosa’s national security adviser Sydney Mufamadi the US officials did not provide evidence about arms sales.
Magwenya said Defence Minister Thandi Modise and Minister of Communications Mondli Gungubele, who chairs the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, also said there were no records of transactions for the sale of arms to Russia.