President Cyril Ramaphosa has met with the Congressional Black Caucus and anti-apartheid veterans during his visit to the United States.
The meeting formed part of the President’s official working visit to the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden.
“We are extremely grateful that our friends in Congressional Black Caucus and the anti-apartheid veterans have accepted this invitation to meet with us. This meeting brings together the peoples of South Africa and the United States, who were united in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and racial segregation in the US,” said President Ramaphosa.
The President who arrived in the US on Thursday, expressed gratitude to the anti-apartheid activists for the significant role they played and continue to play in advocating for the recognition of the sovereign equality of nations.
“The voice of the Congressional Black Caucus is as relevant now as it was at the height of the fight against apartheid, putting pressure on countries in conflict to respect international human rights conventions.
“The people of Western Sahara and Palestine depend on such support in their fight for self-determination. After our experience of apartheid, we know that self-determination can only be achieved with the support and solidarity of the people of the world,” said the President.
He said South Africa remembers that the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act was a critical contribution towards the end of apartheid.
He added that the country remains seized with the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
“We therefore appreciate the continued efforts of our friends in the United States to overcome the debilitating effects of apartheid and colonialism. As they have done with such great effect in the past, members of the Congressional Black Caucus can use their influence to promote policies that advance Africa’s development agenda.”
He said the 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.
He expressed concern at the possible implications for the African continent if the Countering Malign Russian Activities Bill were to become US law.
“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 South Africa. As a sovereign country that pursues an independent foreign policy, the Bill seems to punish those who hold independent views.”
He told the gathering that in the wake of the devastating social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa is working hard to rebuild its economy.
“We have held four South Africa Investment Conferences to mobilise investments that would stimulate economic growth, create jobs and assist with skills training and capacity building, especially for the youth.
“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. We call on the members of the Congressional Black Caucus and anti-apartheid veterans to encourage investment in South Africa and Africa more broadly.”
Growth and development
In addition, the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is vital to ensure that progress made over many years to strengthen trade and investment ties between the US and the continent is not lost.
He called on the leaders to help 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, we know that Africa has huge 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,” he said.
In his address, he said 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.
“It is important that 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. Instead, we seek to partner with countries from across the world in pursuit of Africa’s interests.”
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. For us, this meeting is an important opportunity to reaffirm the ties of friendship and solidarity that have been forged over decades of common struggle for justice,” said President Ramaphosa.