Africa Watch

Trump blow to Africa that belies ANC’s regime change claims

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The Trump administration will possibility veto plans for an African counterterrorism force, showing his disinterest in Africa, and belying claims that the US supports unconstitutional regime change in South Africa.

US President Trump’s confrontational approach to America’s allies in Europe will also have serious consequences for Africa.

The difference of opinion between his administration and the newly elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron, on how to combat terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism in North Africa, is early proof of this. 

Veto plans

The international media is reporting that the Trump administration is contemplating vetoing a French UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution aimed at empowering an African counterterrorism force to fight the growing threat of terrorism, trans-national organized crime, and human trafficking in the Sahel region of North Africa.

France tabled the UNSC resolution shortly after President Macron reconfirmed his nation's commitment to fighting terrorism in the Sahel on his first visit abroad as president, to Mali.

France, with active support of Mali, is spearheading a plan to formalize the long anticipated African anti-terrorism force of 5,000 troops, also referred to as the G-5, drawn from five Sahel nations, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

Mali’s foreign affairs minister asked for the authorization of the G5 force "without delay" to protect the Sahel "from the danger of terrorism, and thus protect the rest of the world from a real threat to regional and international peace."

According to French officials their plan, which has been endorsed by the African Union and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, enjoys widespread backing in the 15-nation UNSC, including the current non-permanent African states and China.

However, funding and logistical support for future military operations by the G-5 counterterrorism force remains a serious challenge.

The European Union agreed to fund the G-5 force with 50 million euros, but the US and Britain is less inclined to commit funds. Particularly the US seems less interested against the backdrop of Trump’s declared intention to scale back US funding for multilateral operations. In fact, the US aims to cut the existing UN peacekeeping budget by US$1 billion and argue the French resolution, will only add costs, if adopted.

Paradoxically, the US expressed support for the French push for an African structured counter-terrorism force, despite reservations about the ability of African armies, especially from the Sahel, to conduct an effective war on terror.

The Trump administration’s main concern, however, centers round France’s insistence on the UNSC seal of approval, claiming the resolution is not only too vague, but that a UNSC resolution is also not necessary for deployment.

Involving the UNSC will, according to the Trump administration, only impede the effectiveness of the intended anti-terrorism force.  

The real threat

The Trump administration’s apprehension regarding the success of an African counterterrorism force in North Africa, and Trump’s personal lack of interest in Africa, further dilutes, even negates, the popular ANC argument – including from its secretary –general Gwede Mantashe – that the US is one of the foreign forces trying to bring about regime change in South Africa, using all kinds of underhand methods.

In her article 'Who is Zuma really afraid of?' Melanie Verwoerd, former ANC MP and ambassador to Ireland, refutes this concerted effort to divert attention from the ruling ANC and president Zuma’s misdirected and corrupt policies. She also raises a moot point by suggesting that attention should be redirected elsewhere to identify where the real threat to South Africa’s well-being may be lurking.

Could it be that that the real threat to South Africa’s stability is not coming from the West, but rather from the East, Russia in particular?

Russia is keen to meddle in the affairs of others, as evidenced  the interference the presidential elections in both the US and France, attempting to influence the outcome. As Verwoerd wrote: “What cannot be denied is that Russia and Putin want to expand their global power and South Africa …is central in their campaign to have a strong foothold in Africa.”

All the rumours about secret nuclear deals with Russia worth an estimated one trillion rand, and the role of president Zuma and his cohorts in this regard raises the question whether the highest office in the country is perhaps wittingly abetting foreign influence in South Africa.  

Rumour has it that the president has already signed off on the deal, but with the process going pear shaped, Zuma under mounting pressure from the Kremlin, controversially reshuffled his cabinet recently to remove those considered to be obstacles to this very lucrative deal. 

Safe to say, history will prove the damage done to South Africa by the Zuma presidency, and the foreign influence exerted on him and his accomplices, will be completely dwarf any of the possible damages caused by the yet unproven foreign influences on those trying to dislodge the man from Nkandla.

by Garth Cilliers

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