The ANC has accused Germany, the UK, the USA, the Netherlands and Switzerland of trying to influence South Africa’s upcoming elections by sending communications directly to the president of the country.
The party was reacting to weekend reports that the aforementioned countries had sent a letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa, warning him that failure to take action on corruption in the country would hamper his bid to draw foreign investment to the country.
A joint statement by the embassies of the countries clarified that it was not a letter sent to Ramaphosa, but rather a memo of discussion points that were part of the president’s investment drive in 2018.
Despite this, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation accused the countries of flouting South Africa’s diplomatic processes, for which they apologised.
However, while the government appears to have resolved the issue, the ANC has issued a statement in which it interprets the matter as a threat from the foreign governments, calling them “imperialist forces” that have a “holier-than-though” stance on corruption.
The party said the message from the five countries was alarmist, dramatic and had a threatening and bullying tone – and went further to accuse the countries of trying to capture the state.
The five countries have over R1 trillion invested in South Africa.
The ANC’s full response is copied below:
The African National Congress (ANC) has noted with deep concern the interference by the Western imperialist forces like the USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland into the affairs of South Africa.
South Africa is a sovereign state and has always respected the laws of these imperialist countries. The ANC condemns this dramatic holier than thou stance of these former colonisers and we would not like to relate to them on the history of master slave relations. South Africa has embarked upon the process of ridding our country of state capture and related corruption. We are using our institutions and constitutional obligation to do so.
We call on these countries to support our efforts. We do not appreciate a threatening and bullying tone. These countries decided to communicate directly with the President of our country via their embassies, an act that can be deemed as undermining and dismissive of diplomatic practices. They leaked their letters to the media, suggesting they had less than honourable intentions.
Currently, South Africa is about to go to the polls, and this unwarranted act by these five countries is viewed dimly, as an act to influence the outcome of the upcoming elections. Each one of them has direct relations with the South African government and its various departments, and would not require this alarmist manner of communication.
Under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa has not been afraid to tackle major challenges facing the country, including corruption and state capture. These matters are not restricted to South Africa, but all countries face similar challenges.
South Africa has been a leading light on the global stage in tackling these matters without fear or favour. It has embarked on this path in a responsible manner, such that our economy and our people are not disadvantaged. To attempt to exploit our frankness in dealing with global challenges smacks of arrogance and overreach.
The ANC wants to be clearly understood that we will not be fooled into swapping one attempt of state capture and corruption for another! This is how we view the interference of these five countries, as just another form of state capture. The ANC shall not allow South Africa’s constitution and sovereignty to be undermined by these latter day colonialists.
The ANC remains committed to international protocols, including a struggle for a better world order that is governed on the basis of multilateral relations, stability and respect for the rule of law and world peace, as opposed to narrow economic nationalism, war, terrorism and corruption.
Both government and the ANC’s reaction to the memo has been to focus on the manner in which the message was delivered, with no mention of the contents of the document.
According to the Sunday Times report, the memo said that there should be a ‘clear, unqualified and manifest political commitment to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and to honest and ethical business practices’.
The five countries said that they were concerned about the challenges of foreign investment, referring to the ‘constant changes of the goalposts’ in the regulatory framework for mining, BEE targets and intellectual property rights.
The countries also called for a change in South Africa’s current visa practices.
South Africa has gained international attention in recent years due to the breaking of several high-profile corruption scandals, which has not been limited to the widely-reported Gupta state capture saga.
In recent weeks, damning testimony by former Bosasa executives have brought to light the extent to which government officials have been implicated in bribery and corruption, spreading across almost every state department.
While South Africa has set up several commissions of inquiry into the widely reported corruption within government, no high profile arrests have been made, and none of the implicated parties, who have been identified as core to the entire saga, have been brought to book.