What’s the plan here?

South Africa is once again demonstrating its neutrality over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This comes just a few days after it was revealed that SA had been following a non-partisan approach by supplying arms and ammunition to Russia.

Now we’ve sent the head of the SANDF (the SA armed forces) to Russia to “visit educational institutions of the ground forces and enterprises of the military-industrial complex” there and “further increase cooperation between ground forces in various fields”.

Thank goodness we’re not taking sides here.

It’s not like we can afford to be doing this. The Rand is tanking already because of loadshedding and the arms shipments row. To add fuel to the fire right now seems both deliberately provocative and deliberately stupid.

South African bilateral trade with Russia amounts to around $1.3 billion. In comparison, bilateral trade with the UK is $10.1 billion, the US is around $17 billion and the EU over $30 billion. To risk all of that for Vlad’s pocket change means that there’s clearly something else happening behind the scenes. Is that something SA owes Russia? Or is it something the Ramaphosa owes Putin?
Because we can talk all day long about how much we abhor the colonial West and and all that they stand for, but that talk is cheap when we are still doing 50x more trade with them each year than we are with Mother Russia. And that’s a lot of money we simply can’t afford to lose.

Maybe the idea is to just run what’s left of the country into the ground before they get voted out at the next election. Or maybe this is actually an election strategy: a vote winner. The anti-imperialists will go for it, of course, but it remains to be seen how the incoming hyper-inflation will attract any normal person to vote for the ANC.

So… what is the plan here? Because I’m equally mystified and concerned.