US threatens to cut funding to South Africa

“The American people pay 22% of the UN budget – more than the next three highest donor countries combined," said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN. (Reuters)

“The American people pay 22% of the UN budget – more than the next three highest donor countries combined," said Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN. (Reuters)

The United States has threatened to cut funding to South Africa, after it emerged that South Africa is among the countries in the United Nations that is most likely to vote against the US.

The US, through its USAID programme, provides funding for South African health services (related to diseases such as HIV/Aids and tuberculosis), basic education, and assistance for small and medium enterprises. In 2016, USAID’s total foreign assistance to South Africa amounted to US$459.7-million.

The threat to cut funding came after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, warned in December that her government would be “taking names” of the countries who did not vote with America on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

At the time, the US had lost a vote inside the UN to declare Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and had been widely condemned for taking the position against international consensus.

The US has now compiled its UN Voting Practices Report for 2017 and determined exactly which UN member states are likely to vote in its favour or against it.

South Africa, it found, is among the 10 countries in the UN who are least likely to vote with the US, and may therefore, Haley argued, be among the countries who are not deserving of American funding.

The UN Voting Practices Report also found that of the 93 resolutions that were voted in 2017, other UN member countries only voted with the US on an average of 31% of these resolutions. It amounts to a 10% drop since US President Donald Trump came into office.

But now, as part of the Trump administration’s “America first” policy - which prioritises the interests of US sovereignty - the government is seeking to donate to countries that give it an “acceptable return” on its investment.

“The American people pay 22% of the UN budget – more than the next three highest donor countries combined. In spite of this generosity, the rest of the UN voted with us only 31% of the time, a lower rate than in 2016. That’s because we care more about being right than popular and are once again standing up for our interests and values,” Haley said in a statement earlier this week.

“Either way, this is not an acceptable return on our investment. When we arrived at the UN last year, we said we would be taking names, and this list of voting records speaks for itself. President Trump wants to ensure that our foreign assistance dollars – the most generous in the world – always serve American interests, and we look forward to helping him see that the American people are no longer taken for granted,” said Haley.

According to the UN Voting Practices Report, the top 10 countries who are likely to vote with the US are:

  1. Israel
  2. Micronesia
  3. Canada
  4. Marshall Islands
  5. Australia
  6. United Kingdom
  7. France
  8. Palau
  9. Ukraine
  10. Czech Republic

The top 10 countries who are the least likely to vote with the US include:

  1. Zimbabwe
  2. Burundi
  3. Iran
  4. Syria
  5. Venezuela
  6. North Korea
  7. Turkmenistan
  8. Cuba
  9. Bolivia
  10. South Africa
Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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