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What is Steenhuisen doing in Ukraine?

As we told you last week, the ANC-led government hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory with its handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

This would normally be an opportunity for the opposition to score some political points. Instead Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen has scored an own goal with his bizarre “fact-finding” mission to Ukraine.

On Monday, the DA tweeted about Steenhuisen’s trip, saying that he’ll be spending the next six days travelling through the region to “see, first-hand, the effects of the Russian invasion”.

But his trip has been criticised by the likes of political analyst Jamie Mighti as a publicity stunt. Others are asking why the DA is spending its resources on investigating a foreign conflict, rather than focusing on domestic affairs, and whether this has anything to do with the demographics involved.

A violent insurgency in Mozambique has been ongoing since 2017 and claimed thousands of lives. Steenhuisen has yet to embark on a fact-finding mission. Even closer to home, in the DA-run Western Cape, many have referred to the epidemic of gang violence in suburbs on the Cape Flats as reminiscent of a “warzone”. 

Steeenhuisen stated that he wants to tell the “unfiltered truth” about the conflict because he “owe[s] it to the people of Ukraine”. Exactly what gives the DA leader more credibility than the global press remains unclear. Steenhuisen, who holds no diplomatic authority as leader of the opposition, may also have a difficult time meeting or entering negotiations with the region’s government officials.

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