South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor accused the West of occasionally treating Africa with patronizing and bullying behavior on the Ukraine issue while hosting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his trip to Africa.
Pandor made it plain that South Africa views Ukraine, Israel, the Palestinians, China, and other issues differently from the United States. Despite Pandor's assertion that South Africa abhorred the war in Ukraine and wanted to see the conflict end, the country has remained neutral. South Africa abstained from any U.N. votes on the subject.
Pandor claimed that certain Western countries had pressed South Africa to adopt their stance on Ukraine. She was also critical of the new US bill signed in April called the "Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act". This bill has been viewed by many in Africa as a means of retaliating against African nations who have not supported Ukraine.
She stated that "There has been a sense of patronizing bullying from some of our partners in Europe and elsewhere — 'You choose this or else we punish you". "And the recent legislation passed in the United States of America by the House of Representatives, we find it a most unfortunate bill," she added.
Pandor also criticized how the international community responds to various conflicts. She claimed that the various strategies used by the international community to address various issues "lead to skepticism about international organizations" at times. She alluded to the suffering of the Palestinians.
She remarked that "The people of Palestine deserve their territory and independence just as much as the people of Ukraine do, and we should be just as worried about what is happening to the Palestinian people as we are about what is happening to the people of Ukraine."
According to Bob Wekesa, director of the African Center for the Study of the United States, Pandor's forthright comments during the news conference demonstrated that the meeting between the U.S. and South Africa behind the scenes "must have been a very difficult one."
Blinken unveiled the new US Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy in Pretoria before departing for Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, focusing on issues such as climate change, trade, health, and food insecurity.Political experts, though, had characterized Blinken's trip to Africa as a move to counter Russia's growing influence on the continent.
Blinken, however, disputed that, stating that he was not on the tour to combat Moscow's and Beijing's growing influence in the area. He stated that "Our dedication to fortifying our relationship with Africa is not motivated by a desire to surpass other countries."
Blinken also discussed the United States' support for Ukraine, calling Russia's invasion an attack on the entire international system. He also criticized China for its reaction following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent trip to Taiwan.
Pandor refused to expressly address Taiwan but did state that South Africa did not want to become involved in a dispute between China and the United States.