By Howard Feldman
It is probably better to sit down when reading this. Alternatively, it might be worthwhile to do so after 5 pm, when a stiff glass of something with more than 5% alcohol content is acceptable. And even encouraged.
Because if loadshedding has not already turned you into a rampant alcoholic, this story will.
South Africa announced that it will be carrying out a 10-day military operation with China and Russia. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the event will take place over the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Not before the anniversary. Not after. But during. When the entire world media is set to take stock of the past year.
Read that again. Because it could not have been easy to absorb the first time around.
South Africa and Russia. Military exercise Over the anniversary of the Russian invasion.
What could possibly go wrong? And who in their right minds could have thought this to be a remotely good idea?
The maneuvers have a name. Dubbed “Mosi”, which translates to “smoke” in Tswana, are scheduled for 17 to 27 February, off the coasts of the port city of Durban and Richards Bay, which is 180 kilometres apart.
It will be the second such exercise involving the three naval forces, the South African National Defence Force said.
The first was held in November 2019 off Cape Town, before Russia went rogue and decided that it wanted what Ukraine had.
More than 350 South African army personnel will take part in the drills “alongside the Russian and Chinese counterparts, with an aim of sharing operational skills and knowledge”, the army said.
They went further by saying “As means to strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China, a multinational maritime exercise between these three countries … will take place.”
South Africa has, of course, continued to maintain its neutrality in the Russian- Ukraine war and reiterated that no foreign entity will dictate its policy. Not unless it is Russia or China, that is.
It has refused to stand alongside countries of the world at the United Nations when calling for condemnation of the Russian attack, but has chosen to hover dangerously on the edge of a fence which is clearly placed squarely on the Russian side of the conflict.
Now might be a good time to pour another drink. Because it doesn’t get better.
In terms of the rotational BRICS system, South Africa is set to lead the organisation in 2023. It has little option and cannot be blamed for this. But that doesn’t stop it from being good news for both Iran and Argentina who last year applied for membership.
It was confirmed in June 2022 by Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh that Tehran has applied for BRICS membership. Tehran filed the application for accession to the BRICS, he said. He expressed hope that “Iran will be able to contribute to the BRICS’s operation and benefit the organisation”.
Iran has been in the headlines for various human rights abuses which has included applying and carrying out the death penalty on protesters in its country: protests sparked by its treatment of the women in the country.
The good news for South Africans is that the so-called principals (of siding with the hooligans of the world) doesn’t seem to stand in the way of anything financial. Despite these “ideals”, our president continues to meet Western royalty, hob-nob with the political elite of Europe and the United States, and to return home to South Africa, not only with a charged cell phone, but with promises of financial assistance.
What this means, is that either the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has gone rogue and is implementing its own nefarious agenda; or no one actually takes them seriously anymore. Which – after my third glass of something with more than 5% alcohol – is likely the option that I will choose.
It is not enough that the ANC has decimated the economy and stolen the dreams of South Africans. It is clear that, in order to finish the job, it fully intends making fools of the country on the global stage.