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Pandor’s pandering fails to douse US ire



Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Naledi Pandor was in Washington this week in what is seen by some as a “desperate lobbying attempt” to patch up strained relations with the United States (US) as tensions between the two nations over South Africa’s foreign policy mounts.

The United States House of Representatives is reviewing a Bill that questions the country’s relationship with South Africa. The Bill accuses South Africa of building ties with countries and “malign actors” that undermine US national security.

“The Bill is a response to the ANC government’s ongoing support of Hamas and other bad actors against Israel, and misusing the good name of South Africa to delegitimise Israel’s right to self-defence,” said Rowan Polovin, national chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation. “Pandor appears to have received a chilly reception, and her last-ditch efforts failed to prevent a bipartisan vote of 36-13 in favour of the Bill moving forward,” he said.

According to political analysts, South Africa’s nonaligned stance on Russia and Ukraine and its anti-Israel stance on the war in the Middle East has marked a turning point in the relationship between our two countries. It goes deeper, with a string of questionable anti-West incidents which have raised the ire of the US and her allies. Cozying up to Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation; making a visit to Teheran in the wake of the 7 October attack; and hosting trilateral naval exercises with China and Russia are a few of these.

The latest Bill, approved by the United States House’s Foreign Affairs Committee last week, calls on the administration to conduct a comprehensive review of US relations with South Africa, including South Africa’s continued eligibility for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

The bipartisan Bill was prompted by criticism from several members of Congress of South Africa’s position on Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as Pretoria’s stance on Israel’s war against Hamas. South Africa’s submission of genocide charges against Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its war on Gaza has done much to upset conservatives in Congress.

International affairs analyst Steven Gruzd said, “It appears that there will be consequences for South Africa from the US for the foreign policy stances that it has taken on issues like Ukraine, Gaza, and Iran, especially over the past two years. The process of reviewing US relations with South Africa still needs to make its way through Congress. It’s not a done deal, but it has put South Africa on notice and prompted Pandor’s trip.”

The Bill, titled the US-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Act, was tabled by Republicans and Democrats.

John James, a Republican from Michigan, introduced the legislation together with Florida Democrat Jared Moskowitz on 6 February, after South Africa’s decision to take Israel to the ICJ.

Several other legislators subsequently co-sponsored the Bill, which states that the South African government “has a history of siding with malign actors, including Hamas, a US-designated foreign terrorist organisation and a proxy of the Iranian regime, and continues to pursue closer ties with the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation”.

Said Gruzd, “South Africa is asserting its sovereignty, but is at odds with the superpower. It won’t have liked having to mount this rear-guard action in the US, but it will defend its choices.”

Pandor has reacted to the US Bill with disbelief.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, she said there was the implication that when America held a particular position, South Africa must follow. “It’s interesting that other countries that share the perspective that South Africa holds aren’t being dealt with in the way we are,” she said.

She didn’t know whether it was because “we’re African”, or because of the stance South Africa had taken in respect to the war in Israel and having approached the ICJ, all of which “may be causing some discomfort or disquiet”, but she said she hoped to “repair the relationship”.

Pandor has been quoted as saying, “Our underlying fundamental philosophy in foreign policy is always to seek peace and negotiation. We’re mandated by the Freedom Charter to pursue international peace and friendship.”

This from the same minister who recently encouraged anti-Israel protests outside Western embassies, and told South African citizens who serve in the Israeli army, “When you come home, we’re going to arrest you.”

In conversation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the topic, “Are SA-US relations at a turning point?” Pandor said members of Congress “make conclusions about South Africa’s international relations without necessarily speaking to us, and this is troubling”.

“One of the things as a young activist I learnt from the US is a belief in freedom and democracy, and that means we might have different ideas, it doesn’t mean we agree on everything, and so to seek to punish South Africa because there’s a disagreement on particular policy areas is a most unfortunate response,” she said.

According to DIRCO, Pandor was in the US to “affirm the very positive relationship between South Africa and the United States of America, to continue to advocate for a greater economic partnership … as well as the continued participation of South Africa in the African Growth and Opportunity Act.”

“We will see how this pans out,” Gruzd said. “But cutting South Africa off from AGOA might have the opposite effect – driving it into the arms of Russia, China and Iran.”

“The ANC is attempting to shift its orientation towards BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates] countries, to more radical revolutionary players in the world, while at the same time trying to placate and pacify existing Western markets,” said political analyst Daniel Silke, who described Pandor’s Washington stint as “an attempt at damage control”.

“South Africa needs to wake up to what these legislators are saying,” he said. “The damage to South Africa’s economy can be substantial. At the same time, however, it’s not in the interests of the US to act punitively against South Africa but to keep it engaged with the West ”

In his weekly newsletter released on Monday, 25 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa had “deliberately avoided aligning our country with any of the major powers or blocs”.

Ramaphosa said the Bill provided an opportunity for discussion, through which South Africa could clarify its foreign policy positions.

Contrary to what the Bill posits, Ramaphosa maintained that South Africa was a neutral state that promoted peace, security, and development on the African continent and across the world.

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  1. Deborah Greene

    Mar 28, 2024 at 9:49 pm

    Naledi Pandor is an unfortunate thing that ever happened to mankind. Even to be classified under Human Race.i personally think she took a larger dose of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.. thereby becoming more EVIL than the “serpent”..I thank G-D she’s not my relative.For a woman to be so Notorious!! I stand amazed..I used to think We Black women are more sympathetic (Ubuntu) I Am Shocked 🤦🤦
    Pray for the Peace of Eretz Yisrael
    Shalu Shalom Yerushalayim 🇮🇱🇮🇱🔯🕯️

  2. Gary Selikow

    Mar 29, 2024 at 10:57 am

    South Africa’s Satanic foreign policy sides with evil on every issue in the world today, Fortunately there is nothing the Tinpot dictatorship cn do dot harm Israel, the apple of G-D’s eye.

  3. yitzchak

    Mar 29, 2024 at 3:59 pm

    The South African government cabinet statement of 27.3.2024 states clearly that the hostages must be released by Hamas and ties that to a ceasefire and food supplies.It also commits SA to a 2 state solution.

    Hamas and Hizballa have strategically attacked our agricultural sector, so vital to our economy.Food etc must be allowed to be delivered.(The chutspah of demanding food having damaged so much of our agricultural sector) however I have not forgotten the deliberate burning of fields by hamas incendiary balloon bombs and the ongoing destruction of our border agricultural hizballah.
    ( and making our food security position more tenuous with the cost of relocating those communities.
    But here’s the plan: Bring in Palestinians( at no fee) to rehabilitate our farms and the produce therefrom to be released to Gazans on payment: milk eggs meat fruit and vegetables.
    I for one have been to farmland over the last 2 months to help our stretched and beseaching farmers whose crops have started to rot on the vine.

    As for Pandor and her box of clowns in government…She and others need to acknowledge the atrocities of 7.10
    Ramaposa was quick to condemn the attack at Crocus in Moscow, but 7.10.deaths were 10X as big but with no condemnation now that the awful accounts have come out from women shocked and numbed by their experiences.
    I fear that once our hostages are released, worse stories will emerge and I suspect that the hamas delays are due to mortal catastrophies against our people.
    Pandor in an interview with Mendi Hassan spoke of events since “8.10.2023”. Why did she get the date so deliberately wrong? as though to airbrush All of 7.10 from the record.?

    At the Palestinian Solidarity meeting recently in JHB she is photographed in an amicable situation with iqbal jassat one of the leading islamist/moslem brotherhood representatives in SA and leader of the Media Review Network.Of note his side-kick, Dr Firoz Ozman studied medicine in Alexandria graduating in 1980.
    One wonders whether he noticed how judenrein Egypt was after the years of Nasserist panarabism.?

    But let me not throw stones at her, since she is an effigy of absent moral conscience. The boatman of the underworld , “Charon”, awaits all these moral degenerates and now anti semites (who cannot condemn the pogrom against Jews),to board his boat on the River Styx as he guides them down the river to the sea to the awaiting
    incendiary horrors of Hades/Jehenem ….indeed FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA..

    But “Never again” takes on new meaning..By 1.6.2024,.(inshaalaah)..The ANC will be out forever as her trip to the USA putrefies and her job will be no more.Her Janus qualities never cease to intrigue me.But the uhmerikans are not fooled.
    Cerberus the 3 headed dog will recognise her at the Gates of Hell .He is not a vegetarian.

  4. Peter

    Apr 3, 2024 at 7:20 pm

    The ANC spent years fighting the Apartheid government because of the lack of human rights. Many countries supported this struggle. Now that they are in power the ANC openly support countries with no human rights. Russia just had an “election” after the state murdered the main opposition leader. Would the ANC’s cherished Bill of Rights be acceptable in Iran or China? I do not believe the ANC represents the views of the majority of South Africans. Unfortunately our education system has deteriorated to such a degree that most voters do not possess the capability to choose the best leadership

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