South Africa’s ‘Coordination with America’s Enemies’ Prompts Introduction of U.S.-SA Relations Review Bill

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

A Bill to review the United States’ relationship with South Africa, due to its ‘building of relationships which undermine U.S. national security’ was introduced to the House of Representatives last Wednesday.

The U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act was introduced by Republican Representative John James, stating: 

“South Africa has been building ties to countries and actors that undermine America’s national security and threaten our way of life through its military and political cooperation with China and Russia and its support of US-designated terrorist organization Hamas. Under this current administration, America has been put last, leaving our allies and partners beholden to dictators and despots in Beijing and Moscow for critical needs like energy. To ensure America’s energy security and national security, we must examine our alliances and disentangle from those who remain willing to work with our adversaries.”

The Details:

The seven page Bill, if passed, requires a full review of the bilateral relationship between South Africa and the United States by the President, alongside the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense to determine if South Africa has engaged in activities which undermine U.S. national security and/or foreign policy interests. 

The Bill goes on to state that, “it is in the national security interest of the United States to deter strategic political and security cooperation and information sharing with the PRC and the Russian Federation, particularly any form of cooperation that may aid or abet Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine or its international standing or influence; and

the ANC’s foreign policy actions have long ceased to reflect its stated stance of nonalignment, and now directly favor the PRC, the Russian Federation, and Hamas, a known proxy of Iran, and thereby undermine United States national security and foreign policy interests.” 

Section two of the Bill states, in chronological order, congress’s findings:

  • The actions of the African National Congress (“ANC”), which since 1994 has held a governing majority and controlled South Africa’s executive branch, are inconsistent with its publicly stated policy of nonalignment in international affairs.
  • In contrast to its stated stance of nonalignment, the South African Government has a history of siding with malign actors, including Hamas, a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and a proxy of the Iranian regime, and continues to pursue closer ties with the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) and the Russian Federation.
  • 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 practicing apartheid.
  • 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 antisemitic and anti-Israel-related statements and actions

The Bill then details various actions undertaken by the ANC Government which signal its alignment with the PRC, Hamas, and Russian Federation.

The 26-point section mentions South Africa’s filling of a ‘politically motivated’ and wrongful accusation of genocide against Israel to the international Court of Justice; 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, and hosting offshore naval exercises, entitled “Operation Mosi II”, carried out jointly with the PRC and Russia, between February 17 and 27, 2023, corresponding with the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

So, What Now?:

Based on 2022 statistics, the U.S.-SA trade relationship totals around 25.5 Billion USD, making the United States South Africa’s second largest trading partner, after China. 

A souring of relations between the two nations would severely hamper South Africa’s already struggling economy, with 2023 predictions estimating a GDP growth of just one percent in 2024. A healthy economy’s GDP should expand between two and three percent, according to Stanford University. 

Furthermore, with the South African election due to take place this year, the loss of such a monumental partnership could further sway voters, as for the first time since the party gained power in 1994, the ANC is projected to receive less than 50% of the vote. 

This is much in part due to the Government’s endemic corruption, which has resulted in the degradation of the nation’s power authority ESKOM, leading to rolling blackouts of up to 10 hours a day. This is in addition to the gross mismanagement of the nation’s dams, particularly the Vaal Dam, which was found to contain raw sewage, washed in from dysfunctional wastewater treatment plants, as well as the dam itself being overrun with invasive water lettuce and Hyacinth. 

The Taaibosspruit (a tributary of the Vaal River) is inundated with alien invasive species, with water lettuce covering the stream for kilometres. (Photo: Julia Evans)