The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and South Africa on the occasion of the South Africa – United States Working Group on African and Global Issues (WGAGI) in Pretoria on July 31.
South Africa hosted a successful meeting of the South Africa – United States Working Group on African and Global Issues (WGAGI) on July 31, 2023, at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria. The WGAGI was co-chaired by the Director-General of DIRCO, Mr. Zane Dangor, and the visiting Acting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland.
The WGAGI, which forms part of the annual structured engagements between South Africa and the United States, focuses on Africa and global issues of common concern with a view to exploring opportunities for bilateral and multilateral collaboration. The two chairpersons hailed the WGAGI as further indication that the U.S.-South Africa bilateral relationship remains strong—and is growing stronger—in significance and substance.
The chairpersons expressed mutual concern over the attempt to seize power by force in Niger and called for the immediate release of President Bazoum. The delegations joined UN Secretary General Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki to condemn in the strongest terms efforts by those responsible to seize power by force and undermine democratic governance, peace, and stability in Niger. The chairs affirmed that the United States and South Africa stand by the Government and people of Niger and emphasized their support for Nigerien democracy.
The meeting was an opportunity for Acting Deputy Secretary of State Nuland to update on the implementation of the outcomes from the U.S.-African Leaders Summit in December 2022. The two delegations reinforced their shared commitment to strengthening the African Union in light of the unique role it plays in strengthening democratic institutions, promoting lasting peace and security, and propelling economic growth across the continent. Acting Deputy Secretary Nuland emphasized U.S. commitment to deepen relations with all African nations in order to advance our shared priorities, engage emerging African democracies, and promote policy alignment with the African Union in line with the AU’s Agenda 2063.
The two delegations expressed mutual appreciation for South African and U.S. efforts to reach a sustainable cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia, particularly personal efforts by President Ramaphosa and Foreign Minister Pandor to convene the parties to the conflict in Pretoria in November 2022. The delegations hailed the efforts as a model of South Africa’s proactive and productive contributions to silence the guns on the African continent. The United States and South Africa pledged continued engagement to facilitate the delivery of critically needed humanitarian assistance to those in need, and to support the national unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia, while maintaining and implementing the cessation of hostilities agreement between the parties.
Both delegations expressed concern about the outbreak and expansion of the conflict in Sudan and the worsening humanitarian crisis. They recognized the need to work through the African Union and the United Nations, and called on all parties to the conflict to take immediate steps to end the violence. They pledged to work together to help secure a negotiated ceasefire and support civilian efforts resume a democratic transition. They called on all parties to adhere strictly to their obligations under international humanitarian law, and for those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses to be held accountable through independent and transparent international processes.
On Zimbabwe, the delegations exchanged views on sanctions, acknowledged that South Africa provides refuge for millions of Zimbabwean nationals, and acknowledged that improved conditions in Zimbabwe could help many Zimbabweans return to their country. The delegations emphasized the need for all Zimbabweans to avoid resorting to political violence ahead of and following upcoming national elections. They hoped that the people of Zimbabwe would be able to exercise their right to vote without fear, intimidation, or interference.
The delegations discussed the ongoing war against Ukraine, and the need to engage proactively with Ukraine, Russia, and the international community to uphold principles of international law as enshrined in the UN Charter. The chairpersons shared a commitment to coordinate efforts to limit human suffering, enable grain exports, and facilitate the exchange of prisoners and captives, including children, in the zone of conflict. The delegations observed that the war and Russia’s decision to not renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative have affected food security throughout Africa and around the world. They recognized the need for all nations to support the safe export of Ukrainian grain from Ukrainian ports in order to promote food security throughout the Global South. The chairpersons applauded efforts by President Ramaphosa and the African Leaders Peace Initiative during their mission to Kyiv and St. Petersburg in June. The delegations pledged to support efforts to bring about a just and sustainable peaceful resolution to the war in the year ahead.
The two delegations acknowledged that the future prosperity and stability of the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific regions are the collective responsibility of all nations. They reaffirmed that the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) should play a pivotal role as a cooperative forum on shared interests of states throughout the region. They also pledged to work within the United Nations to promote a rules-based architecture that facilitates peaceful resolution of disputes, transparency, freedom of navigation, environmental safeguards, strengthened economic and people-to-people linkages, and democratic values and respect for human rights.