Pretoria – The repeated deployment of senior US government officials to South Africa, for high-level engagement with Pretoria officials, is part of Washington’s bid to regain lost ground in terms of influence and partnership with African nations.
This is according to independent analyst Khaya Sithole, who was speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika. He said the massive growth of Chinese and Russian influence in Africa was giving the US sleepless nights.
“If you look at the past 20 to 25 years in particular, China, for example, has grown its influence in Africa in many ways. What you will remember is that China has obviously, over the past 30 years, emerged as the competing super power to the United States, and it also wanted to grow its influence across many alliances,” said Sithole.
“A lot of African countries, for many years, had only been dependent on the relationship with the West, and with the multilateral institutions that are based in the United States in particular.”
He said most African countries had gleefully grabbed the opportunity to co-operate with China and receive assistance for numerous projects from Beijing, as an alternative to the US.
“Of course, China took advantage of that and, obviously, the United States has now woken up to reality that perhaps the influence of China, and the influence of Russia, across the continent has reached a stage which is of concern to American interests.
“So, America is now working on a way to say: ‘Let us re-establish our alliances, let us re-establish our foothold with these African partners.’ It comes in the context of them saying we are concerned about how much influence Russia and China, who they regard as their adversaries, are having on the African continent.”
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived in South Africa this week, a day after Pretoria hosted Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday.
Yellen arrives in South Africa at a time when the stage has been set for a multinational maritime military exercise featuring South Africa, Russia and China. It is due to take place over 10 days in February.
The naval exercise, code-named Exercise Mosi II, will serve as a platform for the three nations to share operational skills, expertise and experience.
This comes after the SANDF announced last week that it would host the People’s Liberation Army Navy from China and the Russian Federal Navy during the multilateral maritime exercise scheduled to take place from February 17 to 27, 2023.
The maritime exercise will be in Durban and Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.
Last year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in South Africa as part of his five-nation tour, which also took him to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.