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US congress receives Bill to review South Africa relations

US congress receives Bill to review South Africa relations
US Republican congressman John James
Published date:
Friday, 09 February 2024
Lizeka Tandwa

A bill has been submitted to the United States congress calling for a full review of the country’s bilateral relationship with South Africa following the International Court of Justice ruling that found it plausible that Israel has committed acts of genocide against Gaza.

The bipartisan bill which was introduced by US Republican congressman John James and Democratic Party congressman Jared Moskowitz this week could threaten South Africa’s prospects to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). 

[ Download a copy of the Bill alongside

The bill will still need to be discussed and passed by congress.

It states that not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, US President Joe Biden in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, shall certify to the appropriate congressional committees and release publicly an unclassified determination explicitly stating whether South Africa has engaged in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests.

It further states that the US government must provide an unclassified report submitted to the appropriate congressional committees justifying the determination upon its certificate.

US Embassy mission spokesperson David Feldmann declined to comment. The ANC and the government’s response will be added when received.

The bill accuses the ANC of acting inconsistent with its publicly stated policy of nonalignment in international affairs.

It states that the South African Government has a history of siding with malign actors, including Hamas and the Russian Federation.

The US congress bill argues that the South African government’s support of Hamas dates back to 1994, when the ANC first came into power, taking a hardline stance of consistently accusing Israel of practising apartheid.

The ANC and the South African government have however been known to have ties with the Palestine Liberation Organisation dating back to former president Nelson Mandela’s term in office.

“Following Hamas’ unprovoked and unprecedented horrendous attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, where Hamas terrorists killed and kidnapped hundreds of Israelis, members of the South African Government and leaders of the ANC have delivered a variety of anti-semitic and anti-Israel-related statements and actions,” it reads. 

The US congress states that some of the anti-semitic remarks include President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statements accusing Israel of genocide. 

It said that the anti-semitic statements also include International Relations and Cooperations Minister Naledi Pandor’s statement expressing concern about escalating violence, urging Israel’s restraint in response.

It adds that Pandor implicitly blamed Israel for provoking the attack through “continued illegal occupation of Palestine land, continued settlement expansion, desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Christian holy sites, and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. 

It accused the ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri of anti-semitic remarks after stating that the decision by Palestinians to respond to the brutality of the settler Israeli apartheid regime is unsurprising. 

“On December 29, 2023, South Africa filed a politically motivated suit in the International Court of Justice wrongfully accusing Israel of committing genocide. The South African Government has pursued increasingly close relations with the Russian Federation, which has been accused of perpetrating war crimes in Ukraine and indiscriminately undermines human rights. South Africa’s robust relationship with Russia spans the military and political space, including allowing a United States-sanctioned Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, to dock and transfer arms at a South African naval base in December 2022,” the bill stated. 

It also cites that South Africa dispatched multiple high-level official delegations to Russia to further political, intelligence, and military cooperation.

The congress bill states that South Africa and the ANC’s relationship with the Chinese government and its ruling Chinese Communist Party(CCP) – which is committing gross violations of human rights in the Xinjiang province and implementing economically coercive tactics around the globe – undermine South Africa’s democratic constitutional system of governance. 

These acts include what it says are ongoing ANC and CCP inter-party cooperation; recruitment of former United States and NATO fighter pilots to train Chinese People’s Liberation Army pilots at the Test Flying Academy of South Africa; South Africa’s hosting of 6 Chinese government-backed and CCP-linked Confucius Institutes; South Africa’s participation in a political training school in Tanzania funded by the Chinese Communist Party, cooperation with the Chinese global Belt and Road Initiative; and the widespread presence in South Africa’s media and technology sectors of PRC state linked firms. 

“The ANC-led South African Government has a history of substantially mismanaging a range of state resources and has often proven incapable of effectively delivering public services, threatening the South African people and the South African economy,” the bill stated. 

The bill accuses Ramaphosa of having declared the national state of disaster over the worsening energy crisis, “the worsening, multi-year power crisis caused by the ANC’s chronic mismanagement of the state owned power company Eskom, resulting from endemic, high-level corruption”. 

It states that the persistence of Transnet’s insufficient capacity, an on-going outbreak of cholera, a failure to provide clean water to households and rampant state capture are part of ANC governments mismanagement of the state.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said that relations between the two countries are warm and mutually beneficial.

“We know for a fact that the USA government doesn’t share the views of the individuals behind this bill. We are confident that it won’t go anywhere. We continue to engage, share information, and cooperate with the USA at bilateral and multilateral fora to deepen the already strong ties between our two countries politically, economically, and work together to respond to global developments, ” he said.

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