“The Soviet Union was supportive of the freedom forces in South Africa, and of course unfortunately, more than unfortunately, the United States was much too sympathetic to the apartheid regime, so that history also doesn’t get erased, you know, overnight, it’s a process.”
–U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Recent military drills hosted by South Africa with Russia and China have ruffled feathers in the United States of America. Titled Exercise Mosi II, the joint drills, which took place February 25th through February 27, involved the three countries and were held in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Seeing these developments, a handful of congressmen announced their intention of passing a resolution that would oppose South Africa’s participation in military exercises involving the two countries that the U.S. considers enemies. The resolution would also direct the Biden Administration to review the economic and political ties between South Africa and the U.S.
Titled Resolution 145, the potential piece of legislation was drafted by moderate Republicans. The resolution contained several clauses drafted to keep South Africa “in check” following their growing relationship with China and Russia. As per the resolution, Congress asked for a full report on how South Africa benefits from America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the United States-South Africa Trade and Investment Framework. This is seen as a way of possibly economically strangling South Africa if the resolution passes. The resolution notes that while South Africa will be participating in these military drills with Russia and China, the Southern African country recently declined to take part in a joint drill with the U.S. The resolution seeks to see South Africa “cancel all future military exercises with the People’s Republic of China and Russia and rejoin United States-led exercises, such as the ‘Cutlass Express.'”
South Africa’s Ties With Russia and China
The resolution notes the existing relationships between South Africa, Russia, and China. South Africa has historically enjoyed a cordial relationship with Russia, with the superpower having lent solidarity and support to Black South Africans in the struggle to end Apartheid.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted the existence of the relationship. “The Soviet Union was supportive of the freedom forces in South Africa, and of course unfortunately, more than unfortunately, the United States was much too sympathetic to the apartheid regime, so that history also doesn’t get erased, you know, overnight, it’s a process,” Blinken said.
Not only was the United States sympathetic to the apartheid regime, but it treated one of South Africa’s revered national icons, Nelson Mandela, with contempt. He was classified as a terrorist by the U.S. and some accounts allege the CIA played a role in his capture and arrest in 1962.
The resolution also notes that South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), shares ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It alleges that the CCP has opened “police stations” to track and watch its political opponents within South Africa’s borders.
The worry in U.S. political circles is that the relationships between these countries appear to be strong.
South Africa has claimed to be neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine but these recent military drills have created the impression in the U.S. that the African nation has picked a side.
Despite the drafting of the resolution, Senior Republican Senator Lindsay Graham informed the media that it would not be passed. According to multiple media reports, this is because the resolution was drafted by politicians with little influence and was not drafted appropriately.
Resolution 145 has been seen as an example of the U.S. imposing its will on a sovereign nation. It is similar to the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, which ended up not being passed as legislation. The bill was drafted with the intention to punish African countries that did business with Russia. Member states of the Southern African Development Community sternly rejected the bill, with South Africa being one of the more vocal nations. These bills show that the U.S. is willing to exert its economic and political power over African nations to get what it wants.
“We were colonized and forgave those who colonized us. Now, the colonizers are asking us to be enemies of Russia, who never colonized us, is that fair? Not for us: their enemies are their enemies, our friends are our friends,” said Jeje Odongo, Uganda’s Foreign Minister.