/ 10 February 2024

Pandor says SA values US relationship and hopes bill to review relationship doesn’t pass

Icj Delivers Order On South Africa's Genocide Case Against Israel
International Relations and Cooperations Minister Naledi Pandor. (Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images)

International relations and cooperation minister (Dirco) Naledi Pandor has raised concern over a bill received by the US congress for a full review of its ties to South Africa saying that the drafters attempt to associate the government with terrorism and the atrocious attack against civilians in Israel. 

Reacting to the bipartisan bill which was introduced by US Republican congressman John James and Democratic Party congressman Jared Moskowitz, Pandor said that the US is a significant trade partner for South Africa, adding that she values the relationship.

The bill will still need to be discussed and passed by congress.

“I believe 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,” she said. 

Pandor added that it was well known that South Africa condemned the killing of civilians and hostage-taking. 

“Our government would encourage a more informed and balanced perspective and will continue to work at strengthening our relationship.” 

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said that it would be “most unfortunate” for South Africa-US relations if this bill ever sees the light of day.  

“Following the ICJ ruling on our application, the argument that our case was wrongful or politically motivated can no longer be sustained. Neither is the attempt to whitewash the severity of devastation and loss of human life in Gaza,” he said. 

Magwenya said a lot of the issues raised by the members of congress are issues that have either been dealt with through our judicial processes or clarified in public communication such as Pandor’s call with Hamas. 

“On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, South Africa has been on the side of peace and remains engaged within the Africa Peace Initiative. Other suggestions being made are mere conjecture.

“Our bilateral relationship with the US remains robust. We have engaged at various levels of leadership to establish at least an appreciation of our position on geopolitical issues. And we will continue to do so to strengthen our bilateral ties,” he said.

The bill accuses the ANC of acting inconsistent with its publicly stated policy of nonalignment in international affairs.

It states that the South African Government has a history of siding with maligned actors, including Hamas and Russia.

The US congress bill argues that 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 apartheid.

The ANC and the South African government have however been known to have ties with the Palestine Liberation Organisation dating back to former president Nelson Mandela’s term in office.