During its 42nd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) vehemently expressed its collective opposition to a proposed United States law on countering Russian influence and activities in Africa. The “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” adopted by the US House of Representatives directs the US Secretary of State to submit a strategy on Russia. The South African Development Community (SADC), which comprises 16 Southern African Nations held the summit on 17 and 18 August at Palais du Peuple (Parliament Building). The western world is almost at its wits’ end, as the group is edging closer to abandoning the US.
According to the statement posted on its website, the 16-member regional bloc complained that the United States has made the African continent “the target of unilateral and punitive measures” and its Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee pushed the bill designed to stop President Vladimir Putin from using Africa to bypass US sanctions and fund his war in Ukraine, as well as to protect African people from human rights violations by Russian mercenaries.
The United States blatant decision to enact sanctions against African nations that conduct business with Russia has been roundly criticized by the SADC member countries. According to media reports, the bloc has adopted a resolution denouncing US sanctions against Russia in Africa, claiming that the region is being unfairly singled out, As per the resolution:
“Summit expressed its dissatisfaction against the continent being targeted for unilateral and punitive measures through the ‘Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act’ that was recently adopted by the United States House of Representatives…,”
The SADC leaders have indicated that they will place the issue on the African Union’s agenda and reiterated the group’s position of principled non-alignment to any crises occurring outside of the continent. This demonstrates an unequivocal stance of the South African countries to continue to maintain open relations with Russia.
The SADC leaders have, therefore, reaffirmed their collective position of non-alignment towards conflicts outside the continent. The summit was held under the theme:
“Promoting Industrialization through Agro-processing , mineral beneficiation and regional value chains for inclusive and resilient economic growth.
A Stern warning for the West
At the summit which is held in Kinshasa, the African leaders are actively reviewing the progress made towards achieving closer integration and deepening regional trade. During the summit, there were very few nations that didn’t raise a voice against western influence on the continent. The Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera at the summit said “Africa is not for Sale” pointing to the bold stance against the scramble for Africa’s resources by external powers.
“Africa Is Not For Sale. Africa is open for business not for sale or looting. We must defend what is ours and make sure that no one takes from us what is ours.
“If the world wants what we have they must buy in a fair trade so that we use proceeds to build ourselves new cities , new universities, new infrastructure , industries and new programmes that lifts people out of poverty and vulnerability.”
President Chakwera urged African leaders and their people to build Africa and future generations not for those bent on looting its resources. He further touched on the need for Africa to define its destiny and chart a new independent course. That the resources of Africa remain in the hands of Africans but not to be stolen by some people. Let us stand up with one voice and tell the World, that Africa is open for business but not for sale. In that scathing speech, he further lambasted Western and Eastern countries that they must not just be in Africa to steal but to build. Okay!
“The plunder that we have allowed the West to conduct in the DRC is a sin we must repent on, resolve and refuse to see repeated anywhere else in our region.
“It takes only Africans to build the African continent . No foreigners will develop the continent. We must not always look upon them because what they give us does not build anything but simply causes tension in the continent like they did in the past.
“There is no one outside Africa who can build it, not any European, Asian or American.”
Labeled the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” (H.R. 7311) was passed on April 27 by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan 419-9 majority and will probably be approved by the Senate which is evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans. This legislative measure is broadly worded enabling the State Department to monitor the foreign policy of the Russian Federation in Africa including military affairs and any effort that Washington deems as “malign influence.”
Russian military operations in Ukraine are in response to Washington and Wall Street’s efforts to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deeper into Eastern Europe as a direct threat to the interests of the Russian Federation and its allies. Two other bills have recently been passed to maintain and expand Pentagon military bases around the world along with providing an additional $40 billion to supply weapons to the Ukrainian government which is bolstered by neo-Nazi militias integrated into the armed forces.
During the early phase of the Russian special operations in Ukraine, many African states abstained from two United Nations General Assembly resolutions motivated by Washington to condemn the Russian government for its intervention in Ukraine while completely ignoring the level of fascist infiltration of Kyiv military forces and the necessity of reaching a diplomatic solution to the burgeoning conflict.
African Heads-of-State, such as President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, have consistently argued that the African National Congress (ANC) led government in Pretoria will not support the Ukraine war along with the draconian sanctions instigated by the Biden administration. Ramaphosa has demanded that the U.S. State Department and White House support negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, which have been routinely undermined by Biden and his cabinet members.
Long before the February 24 invasion by the Russian armed forces, the U.S. has engaged in repeated threats against President Putin and the entire government based in Moscow demanding that it acquiesce to the expansion of NATO. Unprecedented sanctions with the stated aims of completely blockading Russia from the world economic system have largely failed to curtail the advances by Moscow in eastern Ukraine.
The “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” adopted by the US House of Representatives is a well-designed legislative measure broadly worded enabling the State Department to monitor the foreign policy of the Russian Federation in Africa including military affairs and any effort that Washington deems as a malign influence.
The United States Congressional bill was approved by a wide margin that would target and punish African states that maintain political and economic relations with the Russian Federation. Labeled the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” (H.R. 7311) was passed on April 27 by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan 419-9 majority and approved by the Senate which is evenly split between the Democrats and the Republicans.
On 2nd March at the United Nations General Assembly, with all 193 UN Member States in attendance, a total of 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, which reaffirmed Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. African representatives and their votes were considered very interesting. Some 17 African countries abstained from the vote at the UN General Assembly to deplore the Russian invasion of Ukraine while some other 28 countries in the continent voted in favor.
Among those abstaining from voting were South Africa, Algeria, Uganda, Burundi, Senegal, South Sudan, Mali, and Mozambique. Others were Sudan, Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa Republic, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Congo.
Eritrea was the only African country that voted against the resolution. Besides that, however, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya, Chad, Ghana, Gambia, Gabon, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Liberia, Djibouti, Mauritania, Somalia, Niger, Benim, Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others, voted yes.
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau, Ethiopia, and Eswatini were not in the room. Uganda said it abstained from the vote to uphold “neutrality” as the incoming chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). NAM is a forum made up of 120 developing countries to assert their independence from the competing claims of the two superpowers.
In a tweet, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare, said the country would continue to play a constructive role in the maintenance of peace and security both regionally and globally.
A really important development
These remarks and events during the SADC summit may seem to be of no surprise at this point. But, it solidifies the fact that the West is becoming a big loser within the continent.
The United States may have taken action without realizing how disastrously their effort to stop malevolent Russian actions in Africa turned out to be. However, the bill still needs Senate approval before US President Joe Biden can sign it into law. Perhaps, if Africans continue to express their discernment, the US may have to completely lose its touch within the region.
On the other hand, Russia is actively filling the void generated by the anti-US sentiments. Russia has increasingly used its historic Soviet connections to expand its political, economic, and, above all, military relations with African nations. In 2019, Putin organized the first ever Russia-Africa summit attended by 43 African leaders. Later on, Russia became Africa’s biggest arms supplier.
The struggle to lessen the influence of the United States is now getting more dramatic. SADC criticizes the US and the DRC claiming leadership of a major African organization is definitely not a welcoming move for the United States. The African continent and the United States are poised to fight tooth and nail.
source Modern Diplomacy