Pretoria, 28 April 2022 (TDI): The Secretary of State of the United States was one of the diplomatic representatives who congratulated South Africa on Freedom Day; on April 27. Blinken sent his South African counterparts and the population the best wishes on behalf of the US; for the celebration of the 28 years of democracy.

Secretary Blinken then stated that the US values its close friendship with South Africa; and reaffirmed the desire of strengthening the bonds between the peoples and governments.

Blinken also expressed the hope from the US regarding the year ahead; to bring new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration, in several areas. According to Blinken, those areas are health, climate policy, trade, and other sectors in support of their shared interests.

HISTORY OVERVIEW 

During the first twenty years of the Union, segregation became a distinctive feature of South African political, social, and economic life as whites addressed the “native question.”. The Natives Land Act of 1913 defined less than one-tenth of South Africa as Black “reserves” and prohibited any purchase or lease of land by Blacks outside the reserves.

The 1929 general election reflected the political challenges to white supremacy. Later in 1948, the National Party produced a statement that used the word apartheid to describe a program of tightened segregation and discrimination.

South Africa had the apartheid system
South Africa had the apartheid system

After the National Party won the elections; Parliament removed colored voters from the common voters’ rolls in 1956. By 1969 the electorate was exclusively white. Most South Africans struggled daily for survival despite the growth of the national economy.

Even though the ANC existed before, it got stronger thanks to Albert Luthuli, and three younger men—Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and Nelson Mandela. The South African Indian Congress helped the ANC organize a defiance campaign in 1952; during which thousands of volunteers defied discriminatory laws by passively courting arrest and burning their passbooks.

UNSC CONDEMNS APARTHEID AND FINAL RESISTANCE

The UN General Assembly denounced apartheid in 1973; four years later the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose a mandatory embargo on the export of arms to South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was the first President of South Africa and one of the most active fighters against the apartheid
Nelson Mandela was the first President of South Africa and one of the most active fighters against the apartheid

In 1990, De Klerk announced the program that sought to generate radical change; and nine days later Mandela was able to leave prison. A year later, the Parliament repealed Apartheid laws; lifted the state of emergency, freed many political prisoners, and allowed exiles to return to South Africa.

Mandela and De Klerk started to plan a peaceful solution to the problems of the country; which they reached in 1993. For this agreement, both received the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.

FREEDOM DAY

Freedom day is the commemoration of the first democratic elections that the country held on 27 April 1994. These elections were the first post-apartheid where anyone could vote regardless of race.

Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate also defied the government
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate also defied the government

These elections represented the vote that brought an end to over 300 years of colonialism; segregation and white minority rule and the establishment of a new democratic government and a new state subject to a new Constitution.

During this day, the citizens of South Africa also commemorate the liberation struggle that resulted in freedom and the recognition of dignity for all. Every year, the President leads a national thanksgiving celebration of South Africa’s years of freedom with a solemn ceremony.

US-SOUTH AFRICA DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS 

Currently, South Africa is a strategic partner of the United States. Both have strong cooperation in the areas of health, education, the environment, and the digital economy. The US opened a consulate in Cape Town in 1799, and in 1929 established formal diplomatic relations with South Africa.

This came after the UK recognized South Africa’s autonomy within the British Empire. Due to the apartheid, their bilateral relations eventually became severely strained by South Africa’s racial policies.

The US Secretary of State Blinken expressed his best wishes to his South African counterparts and the population on Freedom Day
The US Secretary of State Blinken expressed his best wishes to his South African counterparts and the population on Freedom Day

The Congress of the US passed the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, which imposed sanctions on the apartheid South African government. After the dissolution of the apartheid, President Bill Clinton received newly elected President Nelson Mandela on his first state visit to the United States.

In 1995, both countries launched the U.S.-South African Binational Commission; to support the rebuilding of South Africa. Clinton, Bush, and Obama visited the country while they were presidents of the US. Obama was also present at the memorial service of Nelson Mandela in 2013

ASSISTANCE OF THE UNITED STATES TO SOUTH AFRICA

The focus of US assistance is on improving healthcare, increasing education standards, and teacher training, and building capacity in agriculture to address regional food security. Since 2004, the U.S. government has invested more than $7.25 billion in assistance through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

This assistance has been to help South Africa against HIV/AIDS epidemic. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs strengthen small- and medium-sized enterprises, create employment, improve training and job skills, promote basic education, combat gender-based violence, and promote HIV/AIDS care, prevention, and treatment.

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