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Progressives demand “U.S. hands off South Africa!”

By Kobi Guillory

Naledi Pandor, second from left, meets with Chicago activists. | USPCN

Chicago, IL – “We are busy building a new nation out of the embers of apartheid, and if we had sanctions and American companies withdrawing from South Africa it would devastate our country and create a total disaster,” said Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

Pandor is visiting the United States and speaking out against the U.S.-South Africa Bilateral Relations Review Bill, which passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a vote of 36-13. The bill accuses South Africa of having a “history of siding with malign actors,” namely Hamas, Russia and China. It further says South Africa’s international relations policies “undermine United States national security and foreign policy interests.”

Pandor spoke during a meeting on Sunday with representatives of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR).

“We have become a target because we have been so prominent in our steadfast support of the just cause of the Palestinian people,” Pandor explained. The bill is being pushed through the U.S. Congress in retaliation for South Africa charging Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Israel has killed over 36,000 Palestinians in the six months since October 7, 2023, with the help of billions of U.S. tax dollars sent by President Joe Biden and the U.S. government

“For decades South Africa has been one of the strongest supporters of Palestinian liberation,” Hatem Abudayyeh, National Chair of USPCN elaborated after the meeting. “We condemn the U.S. government’s attempt to punish South Africa for opposing the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” and noted “the millions who have stood for a free Palestine will also defend South Africa.”

The bill was introduced by Republican John James from Michigan and Democrat Jared Moskowitz from Florida. It will now face a vote in the House of Representatives. If it passes, South Africa could face the kind of sanctions that attempt to destroy economies and starve millions in countries like Venezuela, Iraq, Syria and Zimbabwe.

“This bill is an attack on a sovereign nation for exercising its right to self-determination,” commented Frank Chapman, NAARPR executive director. Chapman and other members of NAARPR and USPCN discussed the importance of Black and Palestinian solidarity in ensuring the success of both liberation struggles.

“Those of us who've been in the movement for a long time have seen plenty of attacks like this. We've never been confused about supporting Palestine, South Africa or anyone who's fighting against imperialism,” Chapman said.

The next night Pandor spoke at a reception dinner at the DuSable Museum of African American History alongside Reverend Otis Moss of Trinity United Church of Christ and Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter. She saluted veterans of the anti-apartheid solidarity movement and uplifted the history of solidarity between oppressed people.

“Black people in South Africa and the U.S. share a common history and stand united against apartheid wherever it might be,” Pandor declared.

“South Africa is very near and dear to our hearts, so I will be on the phone tonight calling my congressman,” Senator Hunter said.

#ChicagoIL #IL #International #Africa #SouthAfrica #USPCN #CAARPR