Former South African President Jacob Zuma has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a man of peace” whose intentions and decisions were justified in response to the threats brought by the US, and NATO’s eastward expansion.
“I am certain that His Excellency President Vladimir Putin will reciprocate and bring all in his power to make peace a reality, as I know him to be a man of peace who has worked hard to ensure peace and stability in the globe,” said Zuma.
This comes after a debate over South Africa’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zuma shows support to Putin who shares common political views with him, AfricaNews reports.
South Africa abstained this week from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russian aggression and calling on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine. The Department of International Relations led by minister Naledi Pandor issued a statement calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal.
According to the statement released by the Jacob G Zuma Foundation, Zuma received training in the then Soviet Union during the struggle against apartheid and recently used his 10-year position as a president to revive SA’s relationship with Russia by joining BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa].
In a statement released by his foundation, Zuma said Putin had been “very patient” with the West as he believes that NATO’s eastern expansion was a threat to Russia. This is after Ukraine’s parliament has taken a decision to work towards joining Nato.
Zuma was accused by former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, at the Zondo Commission, that Zuma fired him in December 2015 for disagreeing to approve a nuclear deal with Russia’s Rosatom, which it was estimated would cost R1-trillion.
Meanwhile, a document counted to be ‘confidential’ that was leaked suggested the state had plans to give the deal to the Russian government energy company before other bidders had a chance to compete.
“The high-water mark for Russia-South Africa relations occurred during Jacob Zuma’s presidency (2009-2018),” said the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 2019 report.
Meanwhile, Zuma’s corruption trial is set to resume in April after he lost his application to have prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the case.
Zuma, who was vice-president at the time, is accused of taking bribes from the French company Thales, and is facing 16 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering.
The former South African head of state was released from prison in September 2021 due to health problems while serving a 15-month sentence for stubbornly refusing to appear before a commission investigating state corruption under his presidency from 2009 to 2018.