Cyril Ramaphosa makes comment while offering his condolences on passing of Mikhail Gorbachev
South Africa’s president said Wednesday that his country is greatly indebted to the support provided to it by the Soviet Union over an extended period during the country’s struggle for independence.
Cyril Ramaphosa made the remark in a condolence message following the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev, a Nobel laureate and the last leader of the Soviet Union.
“As the first President of a democratic South Africa, President (Nelson) Mandela visited the Russian Federation in 1999 to express his appreciation for this solidarity,” Ramaphosa said.
The South African leader joined the international community in offering his condolences to Gorbachev’s family and associates, including the esteemed circle of Nobel Laureates, among whom President Mandela was numbered.
Ramaphosa said in 1986, eight years before South Africa held its first democratic election, that Gorbachev hosted the ruling African National Congress’ President Oliver Tambo and former President Thabo Mbeki for deliberations in Moscow on the anti-apartheid struggle.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was a statesman who was able to balance his love for his country and the advancement of its interests with the vision of a world in which conflict was reduced and humanity was able to live in conditions of peace and tolerance,” said Ramaphosa.
He said South Africans are humbled by the regard Gorbachev expressed for Nelson Mandela as an inspiration to him and as a model of leadership to the world.
“We will remember Mikhail Gorbachev with appreciation for his role in making our country a better place within a better world,” he said.
African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat also sent his condolences in a post on his official Twitter account.
“Mikhail Gorbachev, as leader of the then Soviet Union, set in motion a process that ended the Cold War and changed the course of History. A unique leader. May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Mametlwe Sebei, a national committee member of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) in South Africa, said in an emailed statement to Anadolu Agency that Gorbachev’s death is an occasion for them to reflect on his times and what happened under his stewardship and after.
Sebei said Gorbachev’s policies ultimately failed, leading to the restoration of capitalism in the former Soviet Union, out of which developed the gangster capitalism of the 1990s before eventually developing into today’s aggressively imperialist and authoritarian regime of (President) Vladimir Putin.”
He added that for the working class in South Africa, it is particularly important to review the former Soviet leader’s time in the context of the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine, which impacts the working class through the rising cost of living directly linked with the corporate speculations and profiteering from this mass slaughter, especially in the energy and food sectors of the economy.