South Africa Is Presenting Itself As The Continent’s Leader
American policymakers have assessed that South Africa is indeed the continental leader that it’s presenting itself as being due to its dual memberships in BRICS and the G20, which enable it to exert influence across all of Africa and thus make a compelling case to permanently represent it at the UNSC.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed on Tuesday that he and several other African leaders will participate in a peace mission that plans to travel to Moscow and Kiev in the coming future. The purpose is to explore ways to end the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine. This move comes after the US recently accused South Africa of secretly arming Russia late last year and has been pressuring it for two months to comply with the “International Criminal Court’s” (ICC) arrest warrant against President Putin.
Just like fellow BRICS member India, South Africa follows a policy of principled neutrality in the New Cold War whereby it doesn’t support or oppose anyone but seeks to multi-align between everyone. To that end, it’s abstained from voting on anti-Russian UNGA Resolutions, yet it also hasn’t done anything anti-Western either. Instead of appreciating this pragmatic stance and respecting South Africa as an equal like it is in the eyes of international law, the US has disrespected its through this latest pressure campaign.
American policymakers have assessed that South Africa is indeed the continental leader that it’s presenting itself as being due to its dual memberships in BRICS and the G20, which enable it to exert influence across all of Africa and thus make a compelling case to permanently represent it at the UNSC. If they can successfully coerce that country into distancing itself from Russia, even if first only on the pretext of complying with ICC’s warrant, then they expect that other African states might soon follow.
Therein lies the strategic significance of the US’ latest pressure campaign against South Africa since the outcome stands to influence other African countries’ policies one way or another. For precisely that reason, however, President Ramaphosa’s brave defiance of America thus far in defense of his country’s legitimate national interests regarding its relations with Russia infuriates the US to no end. This explains why its pressure campaign has recently intensified through last week’s accusation that it armed Russia.
By participating in the upcoming peace mission, however, President Ramaphosa is able to counteract the US’ false information warfare-driven perception of him as a so-called “anti-Western Russian ally”. After all, if there were any credible concerns about South Africa’s geopolitical loyalty in the New Cold War or his personally, then there’s no way that Zelensky would agree to meet him. The Ukrainian leader would in that case consider him to be a so-called “Trojan Horse” and the peace mission thus wouldn’t happen.
Irrespective of its ultimate success or lack thereof in bringing an end to the NATO-Russian proxy war in Ukraine, President Ramaphosa’s planned trips to Moscow and Kiev will cement the global perception that South Africa is the continent’s leader. Its membership in BRICS and the G20 already go a long way to that end, but now the whole world can see that it’s proactively trying to broker peace in the most geostrategically significant conflict since World War II.
These diplomatic and soft power intentions connected with the upcoming peace mission suggest that South Africa is confident that it’ll be able to protect its strategic autonomy in the New Cold War amidst America’s intensified pressure campaign against it. If that’s the case, then a legal workaround might possibly be implemented to facilitate President Putin’s in-person appearance at this year’s BRICS Summit in Durban, which would go a long way towards accelerating multipolar processes across Africa.