South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA / UNITED STATES

Bill that calls for full review of US relations with SA crosses first hurdle in US Congress

Bill that calls for full review of US relations with SA crosses first hurdle in US Congress
South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II's flag-draped coffin is lying in state on the catafalque at Westminster Hall on 18 September 2022 in London, England. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

A  bill that would call on the US government to comprehensively review US relations with South Africa crossed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday when it passed the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on a voice vote.

The “U.S.- South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act” is expected also to pass a more formal roll call vote in the committee on Wednesday and then to move to the full House of Representatives.

The bill would also require the Administration to report to Congress “explicitly stating whether South Africa has engaged in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests.”

Republican John James and Democrat Jared Moskowitz introduced the bill in February. It says that in contrast to its stated non-alignment, the ANC government has been siding with “malign actors”,  building military and political ties with Russia and China and supporting Hamas, designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation and a known proxy of Iran.

On Wednesday, James added an amendment which also criticised International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor for urging pro-Palestinian activists to demonstrate outside the Pretoria embassies of the five governments which support Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

She did not name the countries but was understood to be referring to the US, UK, Germany, France and Canada.

James’s amendment was adopted by the committee but an amendment proposed by Republican Scott Perry, requiring the Administration to end all foreign aid to South Africa, was defeated.

Perry said that “South Africa’s foreign policy has long ceased to reflect its stated stance of nonalignment, and now directly favors the PRC, (China) the Russian Federation, and Hamas, a known proxy of Iran, and thereby undermines United States national security and foreign policy interests. Why then must we continue to send money to a country that clearly hates our allies and consorts with our enemies?”

James opposed Perry’s amendment, saying the US should not cut off its millions of dollars of health assistance to SA.

Anthony Carroll, retired adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, agreed, saying he was pleased to see Perry’s amendment defeated. “This would have stopped Pepfar funding and would have had catastrophic consequences,” he said, referring to the large US programme which has pumped billions of rands into helping SA fight HIV/AIDS for over two decades.

Gregory Meeks, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee was one of several members of his party who opposed the James bill altogether.

He said he was also concerned with some of Pretoria’s foreign policy stances but the US administration was seeking cooperation with South Africa,  a key partner and an economic driver in Africa and the bill would thwart that cooperation.

He noted that SA had cooperated with the US to the extent of ensuring Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the BRICS summit in South Africa last year. He also said the James bill would duplicate the review of South Africa’s participation in Agoa – the African Growth and Opportunity Act – which has already been called for in a bill tabled by influential Democrat Senator Chris Coons.

Democrat Jonathan Jackson also opposed the bill saying it did not advance relations and that despite differences the US and SA should seek opportunities for cooperation. SA had a strong commitment to democracy and human rights. But Republican Michael McCaul, chairperson of the House Foreign Affairs Committee supported the bill, citing the joint naval exercise which SA conducted with Russian and China in February 2023.

Despite the progress of the bill in the House of Representatives, the Senate has not yet produced matching legislation and many Congress watchers doubt that it will.

Meanwhile Pandor is in the US trying to repair the damage to relations caused by South African government’s stance on the Russian war against Ukraine and Israel’s war against Hamas.

She has talked to the US Chamber of Commerce and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Howard College in Washington. Observers believe she has generally been doing well – except for one significant blunder.

This came when Dan Baer, Carnegie’s senior vice president for policy research, asked her about BRICS admitting four “authoritarian” governments — Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt — into the group last year..

She disputed his characterisation, asking “who makes these judgments? Because I don’t know, this assessment, that you’re making.” Pressed by Baer on whether Iran is authoritarian, she responded, “I don’t know whether they are an authoritarian regime.” DM

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  • JOHANN SCHOLTZ says:

    Chickens coming home to roost.

    • Martin Neethling says:

      Yes. This ‘non-alignment’, which is very much an alignment, just not with countries that trade with us, that we have historical ties with, that we play sport against, that consider us ‘friends’. Answering whether Iran is ‘authoritarian’ is not a trick question. Pandor is an embarrassment.

      • Paul T says:

        America is not a friend. They are a rich bully that dishes out cash and then comes calling for “favours”, or else.

        • Ashley Stone says:

          So like Russia and China and perhaps Iran?

        • Ari Potah says:

          Totally agree. “Rules based” world = OUR (USA) RULES!!! Not yours and if you don’t do what we tell you to do, then there will be consequences.

          • Henry Breuer says:

            Do you honestly think your absurd comment really relates to the USA? Do you think that Russia, China, Iran etc. have rules-based, democratic governments that are truly caring about your well-being? Get an education!

        • Peter Holmes says:

          Yes, we would be far better off with our nice Chinese friends stealing” our resources and repeating the behaviour of the nineteenth century European colonial powers. As Monty Python might have said “What has America ever given the World?”

          • Ari Potah says:

            What has America ever given the world??
            Invaded other sovereign nations? Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Panama, and 40 others, just in the last seventy years or so
            Established over 4,790 military sites worldwide, covering 27 million acres
            Created a financial bubble that will result in the 1929 Great Depression looking like a Sunday School outing
            . . . and so on . .
            Quot homines tot sententiae: suus cuique mos

          • Hidden Name says:

            This is the only way I can comment on Ari Potah rather silly remarks. And all I can say to you, Ari, is it may be time to educate yourself on exactly what Russian or worse still Chinese control looks like to their own people. Let alone anyone else. The US has issues, and a serious foreign policy problem, but they generally are not actively evil. The same cannot be said of your Chinese, Russian or (I seriously hope not) Iranian heroes. Time to grow up, man.

          • William Stucke says:

            “What has America ever given the world??
            Invaded other sovereign nations? Korea, Vietnam, Grenada . . .”

            While the USA has done many foolish things, and acted as a bully, you need to know that the 25th of October is a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day, to commemorate the invasion. They were not alone but had forces of 6 other Caribbean nations.

            This after the Deputy Prime Minister murdered the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, by a firing squad of soldiers, along with several government officials and union leaders loyal to him. They declared a curfew, with shoot on sight orders. They also arrested the Governor, who was rescued by US SEALS.

            This was the first overthrow of a Communist government by armed means since the end of World War II.

            Saint George’s University was founded in 1977 and forms a significant part of the economy of Grenada. At the time of the invasion there were about 1,000 US citizens on the island, at 3 campuses.

          • Godfrey Parkin says:

            Ari – What has the US given the world? Freedom. Without US intervention, those in Europe most of the rest of the world would be have been speaking Russian for the last 70 years, living under authoritarian oppression. Rant all you want about US military interventions – Russia’s worse. The US does not invade to acquire new American territory; Russia has persistently invaded to occupy and grow its empire. Since 1917 Russia has invaded Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China , Afghanistan, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Moldova, Chechnya, Ukraine (many of them several times).. to say nothing of active military engagement to attempt installing puppet regimes throughout SE Asia, Africa and parts of Latin America. Don’t make the mistake of believing the enemy of your perceived enemy is your friend.

        • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

          Memory is short-timed! In World War 2 the USA saved most of the world from the Nazis without any obligation to do so. The US suffers from a complex of superiority, but this does not change the fact that even if they have failed, they have tried to save the world from communism and other authoritarian ways of government. Other interventions would have been better not to do, but who does not make mistakes?

          • Kanu Sukha says:

            “saved most of the world” ? “tried to save the world” ? Really ? You have a bizarre notion of what constitutes the ‘world’ ! Surely ‘Europe’ in the first instance and the ‘west’ in the second instance? This conglomerate makes up 10% of the world population … the last time I looked ! It is time to get ‘back to basics’… please … before descending into this unholy quagmire of ‘alternative facts’ ! Leave that to Trump.

          • T'Plana Hath says:

            “In World War 2 the USA saved most of the world from the Nazis”
            You’re kidding, right?

        • Gerrie Pretorius says:

          Much better than Russia and Cuba and Iran and North Korea and … and … from whom SA gets nothing, but still demand “rights” and international support. Only the anc benefits from these countries!

        • G C says:

          That cash has been very helpfull to South Africa, We will miss the cash when it goes.

      • J vN says:

        Jabba the Pandor is a convert to a violent, political ideology masquerading as a religion.

    • Tinker Tonker says:

      More like Pandor is there to eat the chicken.. super size KFC

  • Ray mac says:

    Americans dont help anyone if it isn’t in their interest .. medical aid? … theyre probably experimenting with diseases for the purpose of terminating those eho are less co operative than they like

  • drew barrimore says:

    Oh no, the cadre is so confused about the world. What is an authoritarian regime? Ian, run by an oligarchy of religious old men which holds sham ‘elections’, which suppresses any dissent, suppresses women and murders them when they protest – perhaps that is an authoritarian regime? Saudi Arabia, run with an iron fist by a royal family headed by a murderer who kills his main opposition in a foreign embassy and has him cut up into pieces and popped into black bags. Perhaps that is an authoritarian regime? Someone should educate this primitive liar.

  • EK SÊ says:

    In Pandorra’s world the USA is the authoritarian and Iran the gift of the givers.

  • EK SÊ says:

    In Pandorra’s world the USA is the authoritarian and Iran the gift of the givers.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    What a massive, revolting, lying and hypocritical embarrassment Pandor is. Ask the real people of Iran who want freedom from the stranglehold of the deranged and neurotic mullahs. The jails are full of dissidents, people are hounded, jailed, beaten, murdered by this vile regime. They also sponsor murder, mayhem, terrorism etc through their proxies around the world and this exceptionally idiotic individual doesn’t know if they are authoritarian??? I would have expelled her immediately for being such a dishonest, sleazy and conniving rubbish.

    • virginia crawford says:

      Who sponsors the murder and mayhem visited on Gaza and the West Bank?

      • Trenton Carr says:

        But but but but, catch a bloody wake-up will you?

      • Malcolm McManus says:

        Ultimately Hamas, with help from Iran, and most likely every Palestinian “civilian” who supports Hamas and has a tunnel under their houses/ flats. No October the 7th, no murder and mayhem. There was no plan for murder and mayhem as you describe it, before October the 7th. No Genocide plan. Nothing.

        • Ari Potah says:

          Hamas is a creation of Israel – just a tool in Netanyahu’s toolbox.

          • Hidden Name says:

            Wow. I think you mean Hamas uis IRAN’S tool. Netanyahu is more or less an uninvolved observer in that relationship….although I am sure he would like to be.

        • Rodney Weidemann says:

          And yet the IDF he and still managed to kill 25 000 women and children, despite it not being planned…

          • Malcolm McManus says:

            It seems to happen in wars. Best not to start wars. About half those stats are Hamas. You don’t hear anyone including the ICJ being overly critical of Hamas.

        • Hidden Name says:

          It’s funny how everyone likes to forget that, right? Palestine has consistently “voted” in governments closely aligned to Iran and various other extremist or outright terrorist groups. Makes it very hard for Israel to trust them. Then of course, sending a brigade of slavering murderous rapists to go kill Isreali babies, rape and dismember Israeli women, kidnap hundreds into extended torture and worse. Note: no one has even tried to deny this happened during the large scale terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas. So one has to, on balance ask: what exactly was the expected response. I can pretty much guarantee the idiots who planned that attack were hoping for exactly the response they got. So maybe spend less time bemoaning Israel, and start considering the abhorrent thinking that started this.

        • John P says:

          Please clarify, are you suggesting there are no Palestinian civilians? Every man, woman and child “has a tunnel…”?

          • Malcolm McManus says:

            No. Only the ones who support Hamas and support having tunnels under their houses. The rest I would be more inclined to classify as innocent civilians and the loss of their lives and those injured and maimed are extremely tragic casualties of a war, a war that wasn’t planned by Israel. I very much doubt Israel caused or planned October the 7th. To expect them to do nothing about it is rather naive.

      • Colin Braude says:

        Q: Who sponsors the murder and mayhem visited on Gaza and the West Bank?
        A: Iran, via its support for Hamas, aided by the ANC

      • Gerrie Pretorius says:

        Hamas, who else?

  • paul Volker says:

    Our foreign policy is for hire to the highest bidder, the ANC needs money.

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    Amnesty Internation report on Iran 2022: “Iran was rocked by an unprecedented popular uprising against the Islamic Republic system. Security forces unlawfully fired live ammunition and metal pellets to crush protests, killing hundreds of men, women and children and injuring thousands. Thousands of people were arbitrarily detained and/or unfairly prosecuted solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Women, LGBTI people, and ethnic and religious minorities suffered intensified discrimination and violence. Enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment, including through the deliberate denial of medical care, were widespread and systematic. Cruel and inhuman punishments, including flogging, amputation and blinding, were imposed and/or carried out. The use of the death penalty increased and public executions resumed. Trials remained systematically unfair. Systemic impunity prevailed for past and ongoing crimes against humanity relating to prison massacres in 1988 and other crimes under international law.”

    • Roel Goris says:

      During apartheid Pandor and her ANC colleagues would quote Amnesty International pronouncements as biblical gospel. Now AI’s statements on the Russian atrocities in Ukraine and the repression in Iran are studiously ignored by Pandor and the ANC. Hypocrisy has become the cornerstone of South Africa’s foreign policy and it deserves to be called out.

  • Keith Green says:

    We in South Africa maybe thinking that the economy is under pressure now, and life for everyone is getting more challenging,
    The US will be thinking “you ain’t seen nothin yet”

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      The US wont be thinking much about us at all. As Donald Trump, idiot or not, once described us “Just another ?”#@hole banana republic”. I don’t think we hold much thought in their minds. Just like one teeny weeny annoying little fly on the back of one of Cyrils great buffaloes.

    • G C says:

      South Africans have a inflated view of themselves, they dont care about South Africa. We are just a pawn in global poltics. South Africa has alligned herself to dodge new friends, it is now time to pay the price for these reckless plans.

  • Gary De Sousa says:

    It is clear that this anc has done an about turn of sorts and openly supports its so called friends of the past with no referendum or consulting the people it has chosen the path of socialism/communisim so therefore it is up to those who disagree with this path to vote them out and to make it clear that we do not agreee with them and to support our friends in getting the anc banned from as many international trade treaties and political countries.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Did it ever cross anyone’s mind that we like USA we have a foreign policy, we are also entitled to our opinion and we have a constitution that is against the war crimes in Gaza and Ukraine and requires the foreign affairs office to act.
      Due to the nature of the 2 wars, appropriate measures were followed and where applicable relief was sought using internationally recognized bodies.
      If America is going to use trade agreements to force the country to think in a way that suits their interest only, against the human rights they preach everyday because it suits their current interest, then it is confusing and inconsistent.
      When they eventually pull the plug on Israel which they will eventually do then we jump again, we might as well do one thing, the right thing.
      Our farmers and producers have ensured they send the right quality products as prescribed in the Agoa agreement it is not our fault that USA is holding us Ransome with trade preferences it is them stooping low in whatever intergrity they have left.
      We are economically poor but we have not reached the dustbin lunch stage.
      I am not proud of the ANC governance but I am proud of our policies and constitution and will support any government in power that respects the two.
      Pandor is well guided by our policies I am still to see one that she broke.

      • Johan Buys says:

        Kenneth:

        Of course we are entitled to an opinion but then that stance should be consistent and non-aligned. I doubt that the US imagines or expects that we should only be friends with their friends and always be enemies of their enemies. Until before Ukraine, Germany was very close with Russia and the US did not hold that against Germany. We took a moral stance on Gaza but what have we said or done about abuses by russia, china, iran, india, saudi?

        • Paul Mathias says:

          Spot on Johan, precisely what I was about to say.

          • Kanu Sukha says:

            Maybe it is time to get a sensible definition of what “non-aligned” is … otherwise we are going to be barking up the wrong trees. Like ‘terrorism/terrorist’ it seems to mean different things to different people ! The US seems to invariably want to have a monopoly on that right. As with Israel, trying to tarnish the UN as a ‘useless’ institution, when the vote does not favour your perspective … even if you are the ONLY country voting against something.

      • G C says:

        If you are talking about uturns then Pandors change over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

      • Charl Van Til says:

        So why does SA not criticize Russia for ignoring the ICJ ruling that it pull out of Ukraine?

  • Troy Marshall says:

    Russia and China was a “friend” to our future government during the struggle. Russia and China were friendly because their enemies were backing the old government. It had nothing to do with principles. South Africa has no need for these old friends.
    Our governments position on Israeli oppression and Palestinian resistance is morally correct and principled
    Our governments position on the Ukrainian and Russian conflict is hypocritical
    As for the United States, Paul T at 07:00 am (21/03/2024) nailed it, “America is not a friend. They are a rich bully that dishes out cash and then comes calling for favours, or else”.

    • Hidden Name says:

      Actually no..,all they want is an environment they can safely invest in to generate profit without the locals stealing too much…RSA and our entire economy is dwarfed by any of their top 100 companies. Something to think on….

  • Jean Racine says:

    “Despite the progress of the bill in the House of Representatives, the Senate has not yet produced matching legislation and many Congress watchers doubt that it will.”

    Fabricius the Stenographer buries the lede, in order to titillate the small minds who are:
    a) scornful of their compatriots and their voting choices;
    b) too lazy to do the hard work of persuading fellow citizens to vote differently; and
    c) looking for outsider saviours to force the policy changes they can’t be arsed to work for.

  • Johan Buys says:

    tragically, when Pandor says “I don’t know whether they are an authoritarian regime”, it is the only honest and correct thing she has said in a year.

  • Dov de Jong says:

    Iran is hanging more pro democracy activists than ever before.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      You mean like Israel is assassinating as many journalists as possible … working across Palestine ? And … not just journalists !

  • Con Tester says:

    Even if push comes to shove in the US and SA is excluded from AGOA benefits, the commentariat needs to absorb one simple truth: SA’s political elite (read “ANC”)…
    Does.
    Not.
    Care.

    Because whatever bad stuff may happen to or in SA, they will be the very last ones to feel it. Their No. 1 priority, their every word and action is geared towards ensuring that they will be taken care of, regardless. The rest of SA comes a very distant second. 30 years of misrule have persuasively demonstrated this contention to be a cold, hard fact.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Amazing how ignorant some of these commentators are like Ari. If it wasn’t for the US, we would all be speaking German, Russian or Chinese and living under a harsh and brutal, if not murdering order. Whilst the US has made many stupid mistakes, I will take them any day over Russia, especially under the Putin devil, China under the awful dictatorial regime and evil ones such as Iran – the new world based order that BRICS is trying to create, with the fickle, degenerate and hypocritical anc at the forefront. These commentators should go and live in these revolting Rand tyrannical countries they defend so blindly instead of free countries – SA for now. They wouldn’t last 1 day! As for you Virginia, who sponsors Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Houthis – the evil and cowardly mullahs of Iran, who use proxies to fight their battles. If it wasn’t for Iran, stoking, arming, sponsoring, directing, funding etc these fanatical and murderous terrorists, peace would have been achieved decades ago. Blame the deaths, destruction and mayhem on Iran and their odious and vile proxies.

    • Johan Buys says:

      Beyond:

      There have lately been several op-ed articles about the need for the “global south” rising up as counter to “western hegemony”. This global south seems to need a map as it includes china, russia, india, iran, saudi and the “west” includes apan, south korea, singapore, australia and new zealand.

      The most visible counterbalance seems to be the difference in personal, religious and economic freedom plus the rule of law in the “west” versus the “south”. The west has those, the south has none of those.

      There is only one thing worse than a Nato force steaming over the horizon when a bully is threatening your country : that there is no Nato force steaming over the horizon…

  • Derek Jones says:

    On this human rights day just exactly what is the anc doing to
    get water to the communities that have none? Even water for one day would be a massive help. I am so sick of them I feel like leaving the country.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    Of course it was the United States of America, the planets defender of democratic values, who took the principled stand, who bought real freedom to all South African’s. We will do well to remember that.
    Oh, do me a favour.

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    I like the optics of this photo, Ramaphosa being led by Naledi Pandor.

  • Anil Maharaj says:

    It is acceptable to have an independent foreign policy. However, one has to be consistent. You cannot be critical of a country only when it’s suits your circumstances and then approach that very same country with begging bowl in hand.

  • Lucifer's Consiglieri says:

    This seems to me to be a simple matter. South Africa’s government, pressed by the enthusiasm of its zealous new convert to Islam, has decided to align itself with the likes of Iran, Russia and China against the West. This, in spite of the striking inconsistency, given Russia and China’s approach to Islam, which is in marked contrast to the West’s naive tolerant and enabling environment. The underlying motivation is transparently a racially based hatred of caucasians and semites. Accordingly, it is only right and to be expected that the US should sever favoured nation status. The SA government will no dout consider that to be an achievement. Who cares about the impact on the already struggling population – 40% unemployment? – we can raise that to 50%!

  • Charl Van Til says:

    It’s the utter hypocrisy that gets me. (Apart from having to figure out if a country that routinely executes political opponents and where girls die for showing their hair is “authoritarian”.) Russia, china, Iran, Hamas… none of these countries have free elections, and all of them have human rights abuse issues. But they are all great friends. It’s got nothing to do with principles, and they should just stop pretending it does.
    As for a *minister of international relations* calling for country boycotts and protests outside embassies? It’s ridiculous, and totally undermines the job she’s doing.

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