America is still politically, economically and militarily the most powerful country in the world. The current global power struggle – largely between a free, democratic West (and countries such as Japan and South Korea that associate with the West) and a more closed, undemocratic and authoritarian East, which is dominated by China and Russia – is a reality.
The huge economic growth in China in the last few decades and the emergence of Xi Jinping as a modern nationalist Chinese dictator have meant that China is increasingly able to challenge the American dominance of more than a century in various fields.
Substantial demographic and cultural decline in Western countries, currently accelerated by the worst leadership in a very long time in the US and Europe, contributes to the confidence with which China and Russia, and their allies such as North Korea and Iran, Western institutions, currently challenging values and systems.
Global power order
However, it would be a mistake to simply think that events of the past two or three years, such as the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration in the US, the inability to counter Chinese global influence, or the political paralysis of Western Europe already caused a total and rapid rearrangement of global relations.
The US economy, despite excessive federal government debt and political divisions, is currently very strong, with economic growth of more than 2% expected this year, after 2.1% growth last year and 5.7% growth in 2021 .Unemployment is almost non-existent in the US, and there are currently two vacancies for every American job seeker.
A healthy debate about the USA’s role as an international watchdog, especially since the end of the Second World War, is good and necessary. This role is particularly characterized by numerous disastrous wars, the US intelligence services’ interference in many countries’ internal affairs (just think of the coup in Iran) and other poor choices or policies that had less favorable consequences.
However, the reality is also that in the past few decades the USA has made a huge contribution to the development of strong institutions, open and free economies and solutions to numerous global challenges.
In South Africa, the USA is still the single country responsible for most foreign investments in our economy. In 2022, investments from the USA in the South African economy increased by 11.9%.
Although South Africa’s trade with China is slightly more than our trade with the USA, South Africa has a much more favorable trade relationship with the USA. We export twice as much products to the US as we import, while we have a huge trade deficit with China. Furthermore, exports to China are driven by unprocessed raw materials, while our exports to the US also include many more processed products that lead to substantial job creation.
Over the past two decades, South Africa has been the single largest beneficiary of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which was approved by the US Congress almost 25 years ago.
Twenty percent of all South African exports qualify for extremely favorable benefits in terms of Agoa. This contributed to an enormous increase in South African agricultural and mining exports to the USA. Almost 10% of all South African exports are currently to the USA. Only 0.4% of US exports go to South Africa.
South Africa’s exports to the US currently support one in every 37 South African families. American investments in the South African economy and the current favorable trade conditions contribute to the strengthening of the private sector in South Africa and set strict requirements which, should the South African government break them, could lead to catastrophic consequences.
Agoa still important
Some of the qualification requirements for Agoa include the protection of the rule of law, human rights and respect for labor standards. The US also imposes basic requirements for the protection of property rights on all trading partners. This is where civil society organizations and the political opposition in South Africa can and should step in to insist on pressure from the US for the maintenance of these and other principles.
The USA is therefore currently contributing very strongly to the promotion of economic development and political stability in South Africa. It is in this connection that one must be careful not to fall into re-analyses of history. It is a given that the US made a decisive contribution to the political transition in South Africa and one can and must be critical of the US and other Western countries’ inability to, as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher did in the 1980s hoped to help bring about a more favorable dispensation that would not lead to central power by the ANC.
Africans and Americans
However, Afrikaners have always had many friends in the US, and still do. In fact, there is renewed interest and a genuine need among many Americans, especially, but not exclusively, among conservative Americans and Republicans, to take a fresh look at South Africa and take substantial steps to support Afrikaners as well.
Criticism of the ANC government’s centralization of power in areas such as education, health care, the labor market, infrastructure development and management causes the danger lights to flash in the US. Similarly, the awareness of discrimination against Afrikaans education and the Afrikaner culture, and the sharp increase in crime and specifically farm murders, has increased substantially.
There is a growing number of American politicians who, through available mechanisms such as trade agreements, diplomatic pressure, the adoption of motions and resolutions and public statements, want to shed light on what is happening in South Africa and try to influence the situation.
To write off American influence in South Africa due to American actions in the past, the current Biden administration’s soft approach towards the ANC or the cultural decline in large parts of the USA, especially in the cities, to wish away or to to dismiss it would be foolish.
We need more pressure on the ANC government. Our farmers, businesses and small and large producers need access to good, stable markets. We will increasingly need funding for projects from abroad. Much of this funding can and should be found in the US.
Solidarity Movement increases pressure
For the past three weeks, the Solidarity Movement has requested the USA not to punish South Africa economically, but rather to develop a policy to isolate specific political figures in South Africa and these persons, who oppose South Africa’s position of non-alignment. place at risk in an irresponsible manner, discriminate against minorities, are involved in corruption and state capture and undermine property rights, even punishable if necessary.
Action from the US creates political space for the Movement and other groups in South Africa to really work on alternatives.
The private sector and well-organized communities through their civil institutions currently form the buffer against an economic and social collapse and ultimately a failed state in South Africa. Support for the private sector and civic institutions in South Africa can empower our people, and can help us buy time, build alternatives and prepare ourselves for a post-ANC, federal and more decentralized South Africa .
The Solidarity Movement therefore requested politicians and organizations in the USA to do the following:
- Increase the pressure on the ANC government, especially in light of the SA government’s dangerous alignment with countries such as China and Russia and the risk this poses to all South Africans.
- Public statements against state capture, corruption, crime, the disregard of minority rights, the centralization of power within the ANC and new racism such as statements that farmers should be killed, are also needed from the USA. It is therefore essential that American leaders and institutions speak out strongly about what is happening in South Africa.
- Maintain strong economic ties with South Africa because it strengthens the private sector and civil society critical of the ANC. This includes the retention and expansion of Agoa and continued investments in the private economy in South Africa.
- Support civil society organizations and the political opposition through moral, financial and other forms of support. Create a platform in the USA to give these organizations and leaders access to resources and spaces to promote the conversation about South Africa also in the USA.
- Use international multilateral organizations to put pressure on the ANC government.
The USA is a large and diverse country. While America faces enormous challenges, it is still, and will be for a long time to come, a giant global player. There are millions of Americans who are very sympathetic towards the Afrikaner.
The time has come to turn this sympathy into concrete action. Therefore, we must not simply write off potential support from the USA through generalizations and exaggerated feelings of displeasure or a historical aversion. We must exploit it to our advantage right now.