Polish palaver: EFF demands that South Africa downgrade Poland embassy after being ‘undermined’
Journalists and the presidential security detail were left stranded on a plane in Poland, and were not allowed to disembark. Photo: Pieter du Toit/Twitter
- The EFF has demanded that the South African government downgrade the Poland embassy following the recent debacle which saw Polish authorities restricting journalists and the president’s security from disembarking from a plane.
- The party has blamed the events on the non-aligned stance adopted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the Russia-Ukraine war.
- Priyal Singh, a senior researcher with the Institute for Security Studies, has advised against making decisions without the relevant information.
Although precise details remain unknown, claims of racism have arisen following the Polish authorities’ refusal to grant South African media and the president’s security personnel access to Poland and Ukraine.
This comes after the Polish government restricted the media tasked with covering the peace mission of President Cyril Ramaphosa and a delegation of African leaders and representatives last week from disembarking for over 24 hours due to administerial issues.
The EFF has since demanded decisive action.
Touching on the matter on Sunday, the EFF described Poland’s treatment of the South African journalists and presidential security as “racist and a constraint on human rights and the media’s freedom”.
In a statement, the party said:
Poland outwardly restricted media freedom and human rights of passengers and the crew by detaining them on a flight and then refusing them their journey forward to Ukraine and thereafter Russia.
While the party lambasted Polish authorities for compromising Ramphosa’s safety, it also threw jabs at the president for his “non-aligned” stance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying it contributed to the country being “undermined”.
The EFF said: “The South African head of state had to travel to Kyiv in a compromised state, in a war zone, without his security detail. This is an unacceptable and deliberate form of humiliation. While Cyril Ramaphosa is an incompetent and corrupt buffoon of imperialism who is incapable of taking a firm stance on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the South African state and our sovereignty was undermined through him.”
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It urged the South African government to defend its dignity by downgrading Poland’s embassy in the country and recalling its ambassador to Poland.
Meanwhile, Priyal Singh, a senior researcher with the Institute for Security Studies, has advised against the country making severe decisions as the facts relating to the matter have yet to be disclosed.
He said: “We still need to wait for the facts. I don’t think any of us has a clear picture or understanding of exactly what transpired in Poland. Making a call to reorient or review our relations with Poland, I think, is a premature and unwise move. We first need to clearly establish what the facts are before we can make a very serious decision such as that.”
Although Singh would not interpret the incident without the relevant information, he said the incident did not mean there are strained relations between Poland and South Africa.
“I don’t think it is a proper reflection of South Africa and Polish bilateral relations in any way. This was a peculiar, isolated incident and, again, we need to establish what the facts were.”
Depending on who we listen to, there are different sides to the story. Some point towards serious logistical and planning blunders made by the South African government [while], on the other hand, we can point towards the Polish authority for how they handled the situation.
The DA has announced it plans to submit questions to the Presidency to clarify whether the allegations of racism made by the head of the Presidential Protection Unit, Major General Wally Rhoode, were true and accurate.
In a statement, DA leader John Steenhuisen slammed the Presidency’s administration for its “sheer incompetence” which contributed to the detainment of journalists and security.
Steenhuisen said the party would also be enquiring into the total cost of the trip and seeking a breakdown of the security detail accompanying Ramaphosa on the trip.