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South Africa at a Crossroads of a new cold war

Jun 22, 2022

The United States is kindling a new Cold War across Africa aimed against Russia, and it might only succeed at driving African countries further into the arms of Russia. This is the view of freelance journalist and columnist Ivo Vegter, who writes in New York, Africa, at a crossroads of a new Cold War.

Radio Islam speaks to Ivo Vegter.

Vegter says, “I think we are at tilted scales here. The US Congress has just passed the countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act with a near unanimous bipartisan vote. It was passed in April by Congress and it is likely to become law in the next few months. Now, this bill considers all Russian activity in Africa as malign, from mere investment to propaganda campaigns to the deployment of mercenary forces at the request of African governments, as has happened in Mozambique, in Bali, in the Central African Republic and so on. If passed, this would use America’s soft power such as aid programs, economic investment and preferential trade programs to counter Russian activity in Africa. And this could extend to targeted sanctions or trade sanctions should African governments or companies be found to be dealing with Russian parties who are sanctioned by the US. So it’s extending the US sanctions basically and forcing African governments to comply with US sanctions. Now this would have far reaching consequences for countries like South Africa.”

“Our government has refused to denounce Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and it now looks like to reap the rewards of the spending by securing cheap oil that Russia cannot sell to other customers. Now, to me, the question isn’t just which side we are on. The USS of Africa, the second largest trade partner just behind China, Russia doesn’t even appear in the top 25.The US, for all its foreign policy errors and there are many, is also at least normally a liberal democracy which upholds liberty and human rights .So the choice should be simple. But this bill is going to force African governments to join the US in this new Cold war against Russia. But just like the original Cold war drove many African countries into the arms of the Soviet Union which supported the liberation movements. Old Cold War loyalties and resentment against being bullied by an imperial power could push many African governments, including South Africa, further into the arms of Russia today,” says Vegter.

Vegter says, “I think it’ll be one of those collective decisions, and there’s a blurring between the party and the state in South Africa. So pretty much everything that happens follows ANC policy decisions. And I think this will be discussed within the ANC, within the NEC. We have constantly made statements in the international arena that go against the US and that favour some of the US worst enemies, including North Korea, Cuba and Iran. You name them, we’re friends with them. So I don’t see that the basic policy, the basic orientation which is anti-west and the view that the west is imperial and the west was the way of the colonials and therefore our enemies, I don’t think that that’s going to change. I think that that position is just kind of hard and we’re going to end up in a move effectively on the wrong side of this Cold War. And in the end, with the economy and the far reaching consequences is the message of the country that may potentially bear the brunt of this.”

The crossroads of the new Cold War. They’ve got to decide which side they’re going to be on.

For more about this, listen to Radio Islam’s podcast below.

 

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