A delegation from the Solidarity Movement have held talks with the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives in the US capital, Washington DC.
The Movement requested US politicians on the committees to support South Africa’s continued participation in AGOA, while the committee was also requested to take a stronger stance against the ANC government’s increasing friendships with authoritarian countries such as Russia, China, and Iran, as well as against state capture, corruption, crime, the decay of infrastructure, and discrimination against minorities in South Africa.
According to Jaco Kleynhans, head of International Liaison at the Solidarity Movement, the US Congress currently shows new interest in the international role played by South Africa. “Due to events since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, serious questions have been raised in Washington DC about South Africa’s sincerity regarding its non-aligned international position.
“The recent BRICS Summit was also scrutinized in Washington because it is clear that China wields the scepter within Brics and that South Africa is comfortable with going along with the fact that Brics will be dominated by authoritarian states from next year. However, our message to American politicians is: do not give up hope with regard to South Africa.
“Currently, the decay of democracy is taking place on a large scale in several African regions. South Africa is still a democratic country, and the US can use its influence to play an important role in maintaining this.”
Over the next three weeks, the Solidarity Movement will visit more than ten American states and will meet with politicians at federal level and in several states.
“We want to ensure that our members’ interests are protected. For that, it is essential that South Africa should enjoy the continued benefit of the AGOA agreement. In the agricultural, mining and car manufacturing industry, among others, and all the secondary industries that benefit from growth in these industries, we have a strong mandate from our members to do everything possible to protect South Africa’s position within AGOA.
“However, we are not only asking the Americans to keep South Africa within AGOA; we are also asking that this should be accompanied with sharper criticism and pressure on the SA government. It is important that American politicians take a stand on South Africa’s foreign policy and on events in South Africa.”
The Solidarity Movement’s current visit to the USA aims to directly influence American policy towards South Africa. According to Kleynhans, they will also hold talks with politicians from the House of Representatives and officials in the US Department of State.
“We will also meet with various pressure groups and American media to discuss events in South Africa. Our message is not only negative. Our message is precisely that at a time such as now when the African continent is experiencing great instability with military coups, autocratic governments doing everything to hold on to their power, and growing internal conflict in dozens of African countries, South Africa can still be a cradle of democracy and a free market economy in Africa.
“To ensure this, however, political change in South Africa is necessary, and therefore foreign countries, including the USA, must support civil society, the private sector, and institutions that promote political change in South Africa.”
The Solidarity Movement has urged the US government to inter alia do the following:
- Increase the pressure on the ANC government, especially in light of the dangerous alignment with countries such as China and Russia and the risks this poses for all South Africans.
- 2. Public statements against state capture, corruption, crime, the disregard for minority rights, the centralization of power within the ANC, and new racism as embodied in statements that farmers should be killed, are also needed. It is therefore necessary for US leaders and institutions to speak out strongly about what is happening in South Africa.
- Maintain strong economic ties with South Africa because such ties strengthen the private sector and civil society that are critical of the ANC. This includes the preservation and expansion of AGOA and continued investment in the private economy in South Africa.
- Support civil organizations and political opposition through moral, financial, and other support. Create a platform in the USA to give these organizations and leaders access to resources and spaces to promote the conversation about South Africa – also in the USA.
- Use international multilateral organizations to put pressure on the ANC government. This includes already existing processes at the United Nations.
Over the next few days, the Solidarity Movement will also meet with politicians in states such as Texas, Michigan, Virginia and South Carolina to discuss trade and other forms of cooperation.