President Cyril Ramaphosa has bemoaned the devastating effects the US bill meant to counter “malign” Russian activities in Africa could have on the continent.
The bill calls on the United States to regularly assess the scope of Russia’s influence and activities in Africa, that “undermine” the States’ interests.
It also seeks to counter such activities and hold accountable African governments and their officials for “aiding” the activities.
Ramaphosa’s government has been criticised for its stance and refusal to condemn Moscow for invading Ukraine.
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique were among African countries that abstained from voting on the Russia-Ukraine conflict at the UN General Assembly earlier this year, where a resolution that demanded Russia to immediately withdraw from Ukraine was adopted.
The resolution was adopted after 141 out of 193 member states voted for the non-binding resolution, while five voted against the resolution.
During a meeting with the congressional black caucus and anti-apartheid veterans during his visit to the United States on Friday, Ramaphosa said should the bill be passed into law, it could have devastating effects on Africa.
“The law could have the unintended consequence of punishing the continent for efforts to advance development and growth,” said Ramaphosa.
“Both the US and Russia are strategic partners for South Africa. As a sovereign country that pursues an independent foreign policy, the Bill seems to punish those who hold independent views. It is disappointing that this Bill has been crafted at a time when President Biden has sought to engage African countries on the basis of respect for their independence and sovereignty.”
The bill comes as the country is still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Ramaphosa.
“We have held four South Africa Investment Conferences to mobilise investments that would stimulate economic growth, create jobs and assist with skills training and capacity building, especially for the youth. South Africa remains seized with the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
Ramaphosa further thanked anti-apartheid activists in the United States for the role they played and continue to play in advocating for the recognition of the sovereign equality of nations.
“The voice of the Congressional Black Caucus is as relevant now as it was at the height of the fight against apartheid, putting pressure on countries in conflict to respect international human rights conventions.
“After our experience of apartheid, we know that self-determination can only be achieved with the support and solidarity of the people of the world.”
He called on the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and anti-apartheid veterans to encourage investment in South Africa and Africa.