Question NW2735 to the President of the Republic

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27 September 2023 - NW2735

Profile picture: Steenhuisen, Mr JH

Steenhuisen, Mr JH to ask the President of the Republic

(1)With reference to his recent African Peace Mission to provide mediation in the war between Russia and Ukraine, what (a) was the full cost to South African taxpayers of the entire South African contingent, including the 120-person security detail, the media component, the delegation itself and the chartered SA Airways plane that transported the security detail and media component and (b) is the detailed breakdown of all costs; (2) what are the full details of the (a) list of names for the entire South African contingent and (b) justification for each individual’s inclusion; (3) whether he stands by the statement made by his head of protection services that their denial of entry into Poland was due to racism and sabotage on the part of the Polish authorities; if not, what is The Presidency’s official explanation for the South African contingency being denied entry to Poland; (4) whether Ivor Ichikowitz and Jean-Yves Ollivier had any role in the African Peace Mission; if not, what are the reasons that they were present at the 5 June meeting of African leaders ahead of the Peace Mission; if so, what are the relevant details?


The Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused great devastation in lost human life, destruction of infrastructure and displacement of people. It has also disrupted the supply of grain to world markets and thus precipitated food insecurity particularly in Africa.

Recognising the dangers arising from the instability caused by the conflict, together with other African Heads of State, we committed ourselves to working with both parties involved in the conflict and other key role players to finding a path to peace.

The following countries formed part of the African Leaders Peace Initiative to Ukraine and Russia on 16-18 June 2023: Comoros (as African Union Chair), Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

I travelled to Ukraine and Russia with a delegation of 17 people, including the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), DIRCO staff, security and medical support personnel. The members of the delegation provided logistics and substantive support to me. From my office, I was accompanied by my Personal Assistant, Special Adviser, Spokesperson, Digital Media Manager and a Presidential Aide. An advance group of two Media Liaison Officers and two Protocol Officers departed a few days earlier for preparatory duty in the respective countries. DIRCO can provide further details of personnel that travelled to support the peace mission.

My delegation travelled on a South African Air Force aircraft to Poland. We had to travel from Poland to Kyiv due to the closure of Ukraine’s airspace. I paid a courtesy visit to the President of Poland in transit to Ukraine. We had an opportunity to discuss the relations between Poland and South Africa and explored ways in which we could deepen the relations between the two countries. We then travelled from Poland to Kyiv and back by train. The costs of travel to Ukraine from Poland by train were provided on a complementary basis by the Ukrainian government. We proceeded from Poland to Russia by air and spent one evening in St Petersburg following an afternoon and evening of talks with President Putin. The full costs to the Presidency of my delegation will be reconciled and reported in the Presidency Annual Report.


As part of the effort to ensure that the South African public was kept informed of the developments around the peace mission, several media houses were invited to travel to Ukraine and Russia. I am advised that due to the financial constraints experienced by several media houses, an arrangement was made for them to travel on the aircraft chartered for security personnel. While their travel was partly facilitated by my office, their travel costs were not borne by the Presidency. I am informed that the travelling members of the media were to cover their own accommodation and other incidental costs.

The details about security personnel and costs of the charter can be obtained from the South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force.

The government of Poland provided through the appropriate diplomatic channels the reasons for the decision to deny entry to an aircraft that transported security personnel and members of the media. The Polish government went further to release those reasons to the media and they are a matter of public record.

The peace mission was facilitated by the Brazzaville Foundation led by Mr Jean-Yves Ollivier. The Brazzaville Foundation team attended the preparatory meeting that took place on 5 June 2023.

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