The United States of America (USA)’s parliament (Congress) is reportedly pushing for a review of relations with South Africa after the latter hosted joint military exercises with China and Russia.
The joint maritime drills, called Exercise Mosi II, off the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, began on 17 February 2023 and concluded on Friday, (24 February), according to The Bulrushes.
The drills coincided with the first anniversary of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
USA’s House of Representatives (lower chamber of the Congress) has called on the Biden administration to conduct a “thorough review of the United States-South Africa relationship”.
South Africa’s Department of Defence has defended its right to host exercises like Mosi II with China and Russia and sees it as an opportunity to strengthen bonds with those two countries, in spite of criticism.
Ahead of the joint exercises, SA Defence Minister Thandi Modise said:
The envisaged exercise will benefit all countries involved through the Interoperability of the naval systems, joint disaster systems management enhancement, maritime cooperation, and anti-piracy exercises.
The House of Representatives reportedly wants South Africa to cancel all future military exercises with China and Russia and instead rejoin USA-led exercises, such as the 11 ”Cutlass Express”.
The USA and South African militaries have historically undertaken joint military exercises and enjoyed good relations, including SA hosting American troops for Exercise ”Shared Accord” in 2022, the fourth time they have hosted this exercise since 2011.
The USA also has historic Department of Defense participation in South Africa’s biennial African Aerospace Defense Exhibition, and through the periodic convening of the bilateral US-South Africa Defense Committee.
However, Congress noted that South Africa has declined to participate in the planned ”Cutlass Express” military exercises with the United States later this year.
Commenting on the development, South Africa-based Professor Arthur Mutambara – the former deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe – said:
The meddling Americans must allow Africans agency in geopolitics. We as Africans must determine our global partners.
We reject, with the contempt that it deserves, this shameful and despicable US interference in African foreign policy and commercial diplomacy formulation.
On the energy matter, Professor Mutambara said:
The proposers of the legislation are trying to be clever and half.
They are opposing the Russians and Chinese but also want to appear like they support SA against Biden’s move to green energy without justice… let us allow SA to use oil and gas… It is a very minor point of their proposal.
Last year in November, the USA joined Britain, France, Germany and the European Union in a multi-billion-dollar partnership to help South Africa finance a quicker transition from coal.
The initiative was valued at $8.5 billion overall and would help move the world toward meeting its climate targets by “choking off international finance for coal“.