US Congress mulls resolution to oppose SA’s naval exercise with Russia and China

US Congress mulls resolution to oppose SA’s naval exercise with Russia and China
The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov, left, and the Chinese frigate Rizhao 598, berthed in Richards Bay on 22 February 2023 ahead of naval drills between Russia, South Africa and China. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The resolution would also require the Biden administration to review US relations with South Africa.

The US House of Representatives is considering a resolution to oppose South Africa’s current military exercise with Russia and China and to call on the Biden administration to thoroughly review America’s relationship with South Africa.

Resolution 145, drafted by moderate Republicans, is the most concrete sign to date of America’s growing disenchantment with Pretoria’s warming relations with Moscow and Beijing.

The South African navy is currently conducting a joint maritime drill called Exercise Mosi II off the KwaZulu-Natal coast which has caused great concern to Western governments.

Veteran Republic Senator Lindsay Graham, who is currently in South Africa, nevertheless told journalists that Resolution HR145 would not pass. And Congressional sources confirmed to Daily Maverick that it would probably not even pass out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, let alone the full House. And they were even more certain it would not pass in the Senate.

They said this was largely because the resolution had been sponsored by junior representatives who had little influence in the House of Representatives and had worded the resolution rather naively.

‘On Russia’s side’

However, they said the resolution nonetheless reflected a significant trend in the thinking in the US Congress “that Pretoria is no longer non-aligned, that they have chosen Russia’s side”.

The sources said that even though HR 145 was unlikely to pass, a new bill was expected to come before Congress soon which would seek to designate Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. That bill would be very likely to pass and it would call out specific countries which partner with Russia. That could very well include South Africa.

Ominously, resolution HR145 calls on the Biden administration to provide Congress with a detailed account of the economic benefits South Africa derives from its inclusion in America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) and the United States-South Africa Trade and Investment Framework signed in 2012.

Agoa gives duty and quota-free access to most SA exports to the US and has been a significant boon to South African exporters, particularly of motor vehicles and fruit. 

The instruction to the administration to examine the benefits of Agoa suggests that Congress is considering the possibility of depriving SA of those benefits because of its growing relations with Russia and China. 

US sentiment on SA

This reflects a sentiment that is growing in the US. Daily Maverick has also heard that President Biden, who is expected to visit Africa this year, might choose to bypass South Africa because of its friendship with Russia. 

Resolution HR145 contrasts SA’s growing military relations with Russia and China with what it implies is a waning military relationship with the US.

It notes that the US and SA militaries have “historically undertaken joint military exercises and enjoyed good relations, including South Africa hosting American troops for Exercise ‘Shared Accord’ in 2022, the fourth time they have hosted this exercise since 2011.”

But it adds that South Africa declined to participate in the planned ‘‘Cutlass Express’’ military exercises with the US this year.

The resolution calls on the Government of South Africa “to cancel all future military exercises with the People’s Republic of China and Russia and rejoin United States-led exercises, such as the ‘‘Cutlass Express’.

UN abstentions

The resolution also notes South Africa’s consistent abstention from several votes in the UN General Assembly in 2022 condemning “Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

And it says “South Africa reneged on its initial call for the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine and has actively sought improved relations with Moscow in the last year.”

It also notes that the ANC and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “engage in consistent interparty cooperation in spite of South Africa’s Constitution being opposed to the CCP’s routine suppression of free expression and individual rights.”

The resolution also repeats claims that the CCP has established at least three ‘‘overseas police stations’’ in South Africa which are reportedly used “to track and harass PRC dissidents.”

The resolution cites several other examples of growing relations between South Africa and China. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Paul Mathias says:

    There is no disputing the important role Russia played in supporting the struggle and the ultimate demise of apartheid.
    That said this country, its government and the ANC as a party, are held hostage by those in power who equate blind loyalty to Putin and his cronies to loyalty to a Russia which no longer exists.

  • Michael Shepstone says:

    I would suggest that it is time big business started making urgent representations to the ANC government regarding their policies which look like bringing great harm to our economy.

  • Petrus Kleinhans says:

    It is simple. The ANC has no respect for the values entrenched in the South African constitution. That is why they are able to choose sides with countries that have zero respect for human rights. They are relentlessly driving South Africa towards the precipe of darkness. And as their previous leader so aptly said: they “don’t care.”

  • Paddy Ross says:

    No one in their right mind would wish any more disasters to hit South Africa’s economy but the move to remove SA from the benefits of Agoa is predictable and deserved. The ANC must realise that actions have consequences.

  • John Stephens says:

    It is so sad when one begins to realise that the ANC cadres who are now in control, never fought for fairness, equality, and human rights. They were only fighting for themselves and their friends. They feel nothing for the poor and oppressed in South Africa or elsewhere in the world. They have no principles or ethics of any nature whatsoever. Their only loyalty is to themselves. They are and remain a criminal enterprise. We will never prosper until they and all their deployed cadres are removed from power and the civil service is cleansed of every card carrying member of the ANC.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    Russia actually played a bit role in the liberation struggle. That role was played by the now-defunct entity called the Soviet Union. Quite a few East Germans paid the ultimate price in Angola. At least half the former Soviet Union stands resolutely opposed to Putin’s illegal insanity. Somehow, the ANC conflates the Soviet Union with Russia. I see it more as the ANC recognising a like kleptocratic entity in modern Russia.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    And so the ANC is selling us out to the colonisers of the 21st century. So the new slave trading starts. So people’s lives are traded for currency. And they don’t see it coming and if they do, they don’t care. And when the proverbial, shit hits the fan, it will be somebody else’s fault. So itt goes on African soil.

  • Pagani Paganini says:

    This is just another hot air. I can make a bet that when president Joe Biden visits Africa, South Africa will be part of the itinerary. Period!

  • Louise Spruyt says:

    The individual person/persons responsible for the decision to hold War Games with Russia and China must be identified and subjected to a public question and answer session. Hiding behind acronyms like “DIRCO” and “SA Dept of Defence” allows those responsible to hide under a cloak of invisibility.
    The person/persons responsible for the Gupta/Waterkloof saga have still not been inconclusively identified.
    We are being held hostage by persons following their own agendas.

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