We should stop tweaking the nose of the US

Graham McIntosh writes on why we should avoid making an enemy of that superpower

Are the US and SA cruising for a bruising?

President Trump has announced his nomination for the US Ambassador to South Africa. With Lana Marks’s roots in East London’s hinterland of the Border and former Transkei, Clarendon Girls’ High School, she comes with important background. Her wealth and success in business and fashion will also give her a shared experience with our own wealthy businessman President who has made honest profits out of his investment in the US based Golden Arches Macdonald’s South African franchise.

I’m sure that they will have a warm personal relationship even though, like Niki Haley (US Ambassador to the UN) she is likely to be politically tough. She may wear a velvet glove or one of her beautiful handbags, but she will be loyal to her President in Donald Trump.

The US is vital to South Africa in general, but specifically, at this time, in two areas. In relation to AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) and in helping us to recover the billions that the Gupta’s, Zuma and other ANC politicians have moved out of South Africa. 

The South African side of AGOA can be cancelled unilaterally by the US Government. It is not a trade agreement. The cancellation would be a disaster for exports from our motor industries (East London has the world class Mercedes manufacturing plant), clothing and garment factories, and agricultural exports, not least avocados. On top of the present parlous state of our economy as a result of looting by corrupt ANC politicians, it would be a double disaster.

The US Administration now has been given, as has the Zondo Commission, the 200 – 300 000 emails and attachments that we all know as the “#GuptaLeaks”. Over decades the USA and FBI have acted vigorously against corruption in many countries. Most recently various FIFA officials including our own Danny Jordaan and Tokyo Sexwale, have felt the pain of US displeasure at corruption.

More important, is that the US is a reliable, helpful and powerful ally in assisting South Africa to pressurize Dubai and any other offshore tax havens, to recover the billions stolen by ANC politicians from South African taxpayers. 

However, President Trump’s speech (25 September 2018) at the UN indicates that South Africa could be “cruising for a bruising”, with the US. He stated:

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy, in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. (The ANC government is a keen supporter of Cuba and Secretary General Ace Magashule, a particularly strong one.)

Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted its people into abject poverty.

Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay…. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. Today we are announcing additional sanction against the repressive regime.

A reading by the US State Department of the ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Programme or the fine academic, but critical, articles published by the IRR (Dr Anthea Jeffrey and John Kane-Berman), would place South Africa exactly in the socialist target that Trump opposes so strongly. Our voting record at the UN re-enforces that view.

For her various briefings the new Ambassador would be advised to spend an hour with Marian Tupy (formerly with the South African Institute for International Affairs and for some years) who now does research at the Cato Institute. 

We need to be friends, not enemies of the USA. Our Minister of DISCO, Lindiwe Sisusulu seems to understand this. Her predecessor, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, seemed to be incapable of making a speech that was not mostly an assembly of phrases from the Marxist Lexicon or Umrabulo. That is the style that will bruise relations with the US State Department, not keep them healthy.