10 Oct Allow Africa to choose its partners, Ramaphosa tells US Congressional Black Caucus
“Africa should be allowed the space to choose its own partners and should never again find itself as a battleground for influence among the global powers.”
That is what President Cyril Ramaphosa told a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and anti-apartheid veterans during a working visit to the US on Friday.
“Instead, we seek to partner with countries from across the world in pursuit of Africa’s interests,” said Ramaphosa.
The president, who met US President Joe Biden and vice-president Kamala Harris to discuss bilateral, regional and global issues in Washington DC, was lobbying for investment to stimulate much-needed economic growth and create jobs.
He said: “This includes partnerships on issues such as Africa’s just energy transition in accordance with global equity and national circumstances and enabled through international support.
“It includes partnerships to develop Africa’s human capital through education, and innovation. This is vital to ensuring the continent’s future stability, security and prosperity.”
SA has held four investment conferences in a bid to revive the ailing economy, he said.
“We are undertaking far-reaching structural reforms to make our economy more competitive. We are improving the ease of doing business by doing away with red tape and streamlining investment support.”
He pleaded with the CBC and anti-apartheid veterans to encourage investment in SA and the continent.
“The renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is vital to ensure that the progress made over many years to strengthen trade and investment ties between the US and the continent is not lost.
“We call on you to help us to change the narrative about Africa, which seeks to portray the continent as riven by conflict and which gives a false impression that Africa has nothing to offer the rest of the world.”
On the contrary, Ramaphosa said, it was known that Africa had potential for growth and development. “The African Continental Free Trade Area will place the economies of Africa on a new trajectory of development and production.
“The continent’s united response to the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that Africa has the will and the means to work together to overcome the greatest challenges.”
Ramaphosa said the CBC’s voice was needed to put pressure on countries engaged in conflicts to respect international human rights conventions. “The people of Western Sahara and Palestine depend on such support in their fight for self-determination.”
He said SA remained seized with persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. “We, therefore, appreciate the continued efforts of our friends in the US to overcome the debilitating effects of apartheid and colonialism.”
He urged members of the CBC to use their influence to promote policies that advance Africa’s development agenda.
“The Congressional Black Caucus should hold the US government to account for its implementation of the US Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa, which acknowledges the role of the African continent in global affairs and seeks a partnership among equals.
“We are therefore concerned the possible implications for the African continent if the Countering Malign Russian Activities Bill were to become US law,” he said.
“The law could have the unintended consequence of punishing the continent for efforts to advance development and growth. Both the US and Russia are strategic partners for SA. 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.
“In the wake of the devastating social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, SA is working hard to rebuild our economy,” said Ramaphosa.
MORE AGOA NEWS