- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission to Ukraine and Russia, which includes leaders from several African nations, began amidst a controversy at the Warsaw Airport. The Presidential Protection Service alleged that Polish authorities demanded original permits from the security detail and media contingent, leading to a standoff.
- Major General Wally Rhoda, head of the Presidential Protection Service, accused the Polish authorities of racism and jeopardizing President Ramaphosa’s life. He claimed that the authorities attempted to confiscate their cargo, causing the South African team to reload it onto the plane.
- Despite the incident, the peace mission continues with President Ramaphosa and other leaders arriving in Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The mission will then proceed to Russia for discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s peace mission to Ukraine and Russia, which also includes leaders from Zambia, Congo, Egypt, Senegal, and Uganda, has commenced under a cloud of controversy. The mission was marred by a standoff between Polish authorities and the presidential security staff at the Warsaw Airport, as reported by South African media.
The head of the Presidential Protection Service, Major General Wally Rhoda, claimed that Polish authorities demanded original permits from the security detail and the media contingent. Rhoda alleged racism and stated that such an incident had never occurred before. He further emphasized that the South African government had procured all necessary permits and had been in communication with the Polish government for two weeks prior to the incident.
Rhoda accused the Polish authorities of jeopardizing the life of President Ramaphosa by insisting on the original permits. He stated, “This is all what they are doing. Our races there when we started to open the packages like they wanted to rush right to the confiscate our fire. That’s why we are where to put it back.”
The controversy escalated when the South African contingent encountered issues while their cargo was being unloaded. Rhoda alleged that Polish authorities harassed them and attempted to confiscate the cargo, leading the South African team to load it back onto the plane.
Despite the incident, President Ramaphosa and the African peace mission arrived in Poland on Thursday, where they were received by Polish President Andres Duda. On the eve of the mission, Ramaphosa expressed concern over the human and negative economic impact and tension arising from the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. He described it as a grave situation that affects everyone in an interconnected world.
Following his visit to Poland, Ramaphosa arrived in Kiev on Friday to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. After Ukraine, Ramaphosa will head to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and engage in talks with his Russian counterpart.
The incident at the Warsaw Airport has drawn international attention, with serious charges made by General Rhoda. The South African Embassy in Warsaw had reportedly been in communication with the Polish officials and initially did not encounter any problems. Rhoda described the incident as a deliberate sabotage, suggesting that it was an attempt to leave President Ramaphosa with a skeleton security team.
Despite the controversy, the peace mission continues, with President Ramaphosa and other heads of state and representatives arriving in Ukraine. They were warmly welcomed by the Ukrainian ambassador to Africa and the Middle East.
The incident has sparked a flurry of discussions on social media, with many expressing their concerns over the alleged racism and the potential impact on the peace mission. As the mission progresses, all eyes will be on the leaders’ discussions and the potential outcomes of their meetings with their Ukrainian and Russian counterparts.