The ANC government ‘is unnecessarily imperilling South Africa’s good relationship with the United States by choosing to side with autocratic governments that abuse human rights, restrict civil liberties and instigate armed conflict’, warns Dr John Endres, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).
Dr Endres responding to the introduction of the U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act in the House of Representatives by lawmakers John James (Republican) nd Jared Moskowitz (Democrat).
The IRR notes in a statement that the draft legislation ‘reflects a growing realisation that while South Africa claims to be “non-aligned” on the global stage, its actions often do not reflect this’.
Dr Endres says the government’s siding with autocratic governments ‘is in contradiction to the founding provisions of the South African Constitution, which affirm “human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms” as core values. We call on the government to be mindful of those values and to align its actions with the interests of South Africa’s people.’
The IRR notes that of particular concern to the US lawmakers are the South African government’s close ties with China, Russia, and Hamas, ‘a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and a proxy of the Iranian regime’.
‘These relationships are considered a potential threat to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.
‘If the draft legislation passes, it will oblige the U.S. administration to undertake a systematic review of South Africa’s activities to determine whether – as Congress suspects – they have undermined U.S. interests. Should this be confirmed, it could result in a substantial reordering of the relationship between the U.S. and South Africa.’
The IRR points out that the U.S. has long been an important partner for South Africa.
‘America ranks among SA’s top three trading partners, has given South African exporters duty-free access to the large American consumer market under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and has provided over $8 billion (R152 billion) to fund South Africa’s efforts at combating AIDS since 2004. U.S. companies have large investments in South Africa that provide thousands of jobs, and South Africans favour the U.S. as the best model for development by an almost 2:1 margin over second-placed China.
‘South Africa, once lauded for its stance on human rights and admired for its successful transition from apartheid to democracy, is fast losing respect on the world stage. Its government is also increasingly out of step with popular sentiment amongst South Africans.’
The sponsors of the law, the IRR adds, ‘further highlight the ANC government’s ineptitude in governance, naming blackouts, rail problems, a cholera outbreak, and rampant corruption as examples of mismanagement that threaten “the South African people and the South African economy”’.
‘These concerns are not unfounded, as IRR reporting has shown. The government’s policies and governance, rooted in the ideology of the National Democratic Revolution, often do not appear aligned with the best interests of South Africans. They have produced a low-growth, high-crime environment in which over 42% of the workforce are unemployed and public services are collapsing.’
Dr Endres says: ‘During my visit to Washington D.C. last year I found enormous goodwill towards South Africa among the foreign policy establishment. However, this is tainted by a growing sense of frustration.’