Picture: Handout/Supplied – Khulekani Skosana has told Sputnik in and interview that the best way to resolve the war in Ukraine is through dialogue. Skosana says South Africa will ‘stand on the side of the oppressed and on the side of peace’, and be on the right side of history.
By Maria Konokhova
African leaders have recently pointed to the West putting “extraordinary pressure” on many of the Continent’s countries to choose sides, pressing them to renounce their position of neutrality on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Now, the situation has taken a new turn, since the South African government has been accused of supplying weapons to Russia.
The West and the US in particular should be more careful when they make remarks about South Africa in the future because that may sway the nation “towards a direction that would be very undesirable” for them, said Khulekani Skosana, chairperson of the International Relations Subcommittee of the African Nation Congress (ANC) Youth League, National Youth Task Team, in an interview with Sputnik Africa.
The youth activist in particular referred to the remarks made by US Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, who said that Pretoria was allegedly supplying weapons to the Russian army. According to Skosana, this scenario doesn’t exist, because why would Russia, “the most powerful country on earth”, need weapons from South Africa.
Taking the American ambassador to task, he pointed out that by ignoring all protocols and making these allegations, which he castigated as an immature move, the envoy plunged the country into crisis. Skosana underlined that these kinds of assertions happen quite often and are aimed at chasing away investment and business from the country.
“And we have told them that we don’t appreciate the gun that they put to the head of South Africa. And we think that if they believe in the democracy which they preach so much, then they should do so in action by respecting the sovereign state of South Africa and our diplomatic independence,” he said.
He underscored that South Africa and the Continent in general will continue to oppose any form of oppression and will stick to its own course, which is to ensure African nations’ freedom and independence.
“They will never kill our yearning for freedom […]. They will never kill what is in our heart, which is the love for our Continent and our culture. You can never tame the African men. You can put us in chains, but we will unchain ourselves,” Skosana said.
According to Skosana, as South Africa expects more remarks of this kind from the United States, the US will be the one who loses out the most due to its deteriorating relationship with Pretoria, given the fact that it “ploughs mineral resources” of the nation.
He reiterated that South Africa is following a non-aligned policy, and does not appreciate “intimidation by the US government”, and will never do so.
He said the West should not underestimate African nations and consider that they are “not ready to fight”, saying that “we believe that the revolution is love, and we are willing to give everything we have for our freedom”.
Standing on ‘Right Side of History’
Skosana, who was sanctioned by the Kiev regime in October 2022 over his participation in an observer mission to the Donbass region’s referendums, shared his viewpoint on the sanctions with Sputnik Africa, saying that for him, they are medals that indicate that he is “standing on the right side of history”.
He explained that he is not bothered by the sanctions imposed by “clearly a Nazi regime” that doesn’t see Africans as equal partners and thinks they “are subhuman to them”. He highlighted that South Africa would have never gained its freedom from the apartheid regime without international support and solidarity, and therefore, “it would be very hypocritical for people in South Africa to stand and watch while there is Nazism looming in Ukraine”.
“For more than 300 years, Africans have espoused to unchain themselves from colonialism. So when we smell oppression and colonial mentality and Nazism, we will stand against it, even at the expense of our personnel profiles or names. So they can sanction me all they want because that puts me in the category of greats[…]. For me, those sanctions are badges of honour,” Skosana said.
The youth leader pointed at the need to exercise and maintain international solidarity, noting that South Africa stands in unity with the people of Donbass who are seeking self-determination. Skosana underscored that he in particular, as well as many other African activist and patriots, are ready to receive even more medals as they don’t see sanctions as something bad.
“I see them [sanctions] as something good because it means I’m saying the right things and I’m speaking the right language,” he said, adding: “I think so many people have put their lives on the line. What are sanctions? People have sacrificed their lives.”
He reiterated that his attitude, as well as South Africa’s stance on the conflict, has not changed due to sanctions or the threat of their introduction. Skosana said that he and his country will “stand on the side of the oppressed and on the side of peace”, noting that no one should keep silent “in the midst of injustice, even if that injustice is 14,000 kilometres away from you”.
According to him, the best form of resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict is dialogue. The activist spotlighted “an exodus of amounts of weapons of mass destruction” sent to Ukraine, recalling that when Africa is struggling and asking for help, or the “people of Palestine are being bombarded by Israel, nobody’s sending arms to them”.
He noted that Ukraine’s president, who reportedly claimed that the nation is going to fight until the last Ukrainian, is a war criminal, explaining that these kinds of statements do not correspond to the principles of democracy because people are forced to fight.
“There is a proxy war and the people of Ukraine have chosen to be subjects of the Americans […]. And this is not about the sovereignty of Ukraine, but it is about the status quo of preserving American hegemony as a superpower in the world,” Skosana said.
Skosana recalled that the United States supported the apartheid regime, noting that any region, where “American Uncle Sam went with weapons”, ended up in ruins, pointing to Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He vowed that Africa was not going ”to be part of that evil vehicle”.
According to Skosana, people of Ukraine should realise that “they are being used as pawns of a proxy war”, by means of which America is attempting to dominate the world by challenging Russia.
Shedding ‘Stockholm Syndrome’
Skosana also shared his vision for the future of Africa, stating that he wants to see an “African renaissance”, when the Continent no longer depends on its former colonisers and becomes “as prosperous as the mineral resources beneath its soil”.
He explained that he would like to see a situation when “there is no Europe that is built out of Africa”, but there is Africa that is built out of its own wealth, a self-sufficient Continent that doesn’t have to export raw material and buy it back as finished goods.
“I want to see an Africa where we love ourselves and we are not stuck in this Stockholm syndrome, where we are obsessed with what would be a former coloniser that has not apologised for the atrocities committed in the Continent. And yes, indeed we forgive, but we don’t forget,” he said.
Skosana noted that one of the main factors of implementing this vision in practice lies in the realm of ensuring political stability across the Continent. It is of critical importance to silence the guns and stop all the internal conflicts led “at the behest of what would be the former master”.
He stated that education must be the key because educated societies are peaceful ones. Skosana noted that he would like to see free education on the Continent, as well as free healthcare and access to opportunities for young people.
Empowering Youth So They Can Control Their Future
According to Skosana, it is necessary to empower the Africa’s youth and women, ensure equality and equity between women and men, and give young people the platform to be innovative because the Continent’s fate is in their hands.
“So they must be given the education and opportunity so that they can display their potential instead of being given guns and drugs to shoot each other,” Skosana said.
He emphasised that young people across the world should be interested and involved in politics, they should view it as an instrument to convey and achieve their aspirations, and obtain and use the power of voting to build their future.
Skosana highlighted that young people, in particular Africans, have responsibility to be politically involved, especially given the fact that they are often used as “instrument of wrong things”.
It is impossible to steer clear of politics because it impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life, regardless of an individual’s political stance, be it active, passive or neutral. Talking about his own career in politics as a youth representative, he explained that instead of decisions being made for him, he wants to be part of the decision-making process and contribute to its implementation: “nothing for me without me, nothing for young people without young people”, he said.
He contended that even when young people are not involved in politics, they are still taking a stance by allowing “old men who are self-centred to decide” the future for them. Those politicians, he maintained, want the youth to be focused on entertainment, “on things that have nothing to do with the construction of society”.
Therefore, he concluded, it is important for young people to participate in politics so that “they control the narrative of the future” that they are bound to live in.
“In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, you have to be the change that you want to see. So if I want change in my community, I have to be at the forefront of pursuing that change. Instead of being an armchair revolutionary and complaining without contributing to the solution,” he said.
This article was first published in Sputnik