A Russian oligarch has been given the go-ahead to dock his superyacht ‘the Nord’ along Cape Towns' coastline. The decision has not gone unchallenged, with the mayor of the city of Cape Town vehemently opposing the decision to allow Alexei Mordashov’s superyacht to dock on South African shores.
One of Russia's wealthiest men, billionaire Alexei Mordashov, is a prominent figurehead among the Russian elite. Mordashov is the largest shareholder of Severstal, Russia’s fourth-largest steel manufacturing firm. Like many Russian oligarchs, Mordashov is allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mordashov already had one of his superyachts seized earlier in the year by the Italian government, under the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and persons linked to the Russian government. Ever since, Mordashov has been engaged in a game of cat and mouse with the US government and the EU, constantly moving his superyacht to various shores to evade seizure.
South Africa’s Stance
In a vote that took place earlier in the year to sanction and charge Russia of wrongdoing in its invasion of Ukraine, South Africa was one of the few countries that chose to abstain from voting. Many disagreed with South Africa’s noncommittal stance and saw it as an endorsement of the war on Ukraine. Thus, the spotlight is once again on the South African government to gauge how they will react to the Nord’s docking in Cape Town.
Geordin Hill-Lewis, the mayor of Cape Town, has spoken in favour of South Africa acting and blocking the entry of the superyacht, saying that denying Mordashov’s yacht entry would go a long way in rebuilding the country’s image in the global community. Hill-Lewis has gone as far as writing to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco). However, his endeavor proved unsuccessful, with the spokesperson for the Dirco stating the matter did not fall under their jurisdiction.
This is not the first time the ruling party and the opposition party have had differing views on matters concerning foreign policy. In fact, in 2016 a member of the opposition party traveled to Taiwan on a diplomatic visit. Upon his return, he was forced to write a letter to the Chinese embassy explaining the meaning of his trip and denouncing the sovereignty of Taiwan.
Nord had docked in Hong Kong earlier this month and it’s expected to arrive at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront in the early weeks of November. Only time will tell regarding the South African government’s response.
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