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SA-US Relations to Be Scrutinized as US Lawmakers Seek to Review Ties

How long will South Africa be a “solid” and “strategic” US partner on the continent?

The US State Department describes its relationship with the southern African country as “strong“.

However, US Congressmen John James and Jared Moskowitz would like the ties to be reviewed.

On February 6, they introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to evaluate bilateral ties between the US and South Africa.

Rep. John James has accused Pretoria of “building ties to countries and actors that undermine [the US’s] national security and threaten [the US] way of life through its military and political cooperation with China and Russia and its support of U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hamas.”

South Africa’s ICJ complaint against Israel is described as “politically motivated” and “wrongfully accusing Israel.”

According to South African newspaper Mail & Guardian, the country’s top diplomat, Naledi Pandor, believes “South Africa offers quality products to the US market and I wish that relationship to grow.”

“We have different views on many foreign policy matters but as a democracy, we affirm the sovereign right of states to frame their foreign policy. I am concerned at the bill drafters attempt to associate our country with terrorism and the atrocious attack against civilians in Israel.”

Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, told Bloomberg on Monday (Feb. 12) that “a lot of the issues raised by the members of Congress are issues that have either been dealt with through our own judicial processes or clarified in public communication.”

“Following the ICJ ruling on our application, the argument that our case was wrongful or politically motivated can no longer be sustained,” Magwenya added.

The bill still has to be discussed and passed.

Previous move by US lawmakers

In June, a bipartisan group of US congressmen urged the Biden administration to relocate the 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum from Johannesburg to another nation.

The congressmen argued South Africa supported Russia’s invasion and questioned its eligibility for commercial benefits from the United States under a law that increased market access for eligible sub-Saharan African countries.

At the time, South African foreign ministry spokesperson Clayson Monyela stated that the letter had been “noted,” but that South Africa still “enjoys the support of the United States government” for holding the African Growth and Opportunity Act summit.

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