As the U.S. government reviews its relationship with South Africa, if and when the Department of Defense, Secretary of State, and the congressional committee determine that South Africa is a threat to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests; the U.S. President will automatically be enjoined:

1. by the National Emergency Act to declare a National Emergency on South Africa.

2. The National Emergency Act will in turn mandate the U.S. President to mitigate the identified threat by either military action or economic action.

3. Whether the response is military or economic, it will all start with the imposition of the IEEPA (International Emergency Economic Powers Act) on South Africa.

IEEPA is a War and Defense, Title 50 instrument, that mandates the U.S. government to block any financial assistance to, or cooperation with, a nation identified as a threat to the U.S.

4. With that, the President, at his discretion, can investigate; block the financial assets; restrict loans, prohibit the clearance of funds and investment in South Africa without the approval and license of the Secretary of State.

The act also outlines penalties that will be imposed on any U.S. company, bank, individual, foreign company, and even local South African companies and individuals that do business with the SA government, its parastatals, and those who do business with them, without a license from the U.S. Secretary of State.

With this, the U.S. President will outline the terms and conditions under which South Africa will cease to be a threat to U.S. national interests. In other words, South Africa must acquiesce to U.S. foreign policy for sanctions to be removed.

5. Once the U.S. President has implemented IEEPA, he is enjoined to write a report to Congress in six months, informing them of the implementation of these measures on South Africa.

6. Thereafter, a review of these economic coercive measures will be carried out one year after their implementation and six months after the presentation of the report to Congress.

7. Subsequently, the Secretary of State and the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) in conjunction with the Department of State, Homeland Security, and Department of Justice will administer the sanctions for a year pending review and cancellation or renewal.

8. Compounding this, even before South Africa is designated a threat, the U.S. Congress can also impose its own sanctions as they did to Zimbabwe in 2001, when they imposed ZDERA sanctions before the country was designated a threat to U.S. national interests in 2003. After, George Bush then declared a National Emergency on that country and imposed his executive order sanctions EO13288.

In all intents and purposes, when this happens, South Africa will be under unilateral coercive economic measures or sanctions. Suffice to say, these will be illegal sanctions at international law because the U.S. will have unilaterally punished a fellow UN member state through aggression and the extraterritorial imposition of U.S. law on a sovereign state, without following due process and the UN Charter Dispute Resolution mechanisms.

Additionally, these economic measures, which are being implemented for political reasons, will also go against free-trade and non-trade restriction objectives of GATT, the World Bank and other international treaties.

Furthermore, unilateral coercive measures or sanctions on South Africa would handicap the government’s ability to deliver services to its citizens, and as such, the measures would constitute collective punishment of civilians by depriving them of basic services, which can be classified as a crime against humanity by persecution of civilians.

The imposition of such sanctions contravenes the 1998 UN Resolution 44/215; the HRC resolutions 27/21 of 2014, and 2017 resolution 34/13.

Potential Solutions.

The South African government has a number of solutions to address these illegalities:

1. Hiring Consultants To Manage Relationship.

Firstly, even before the U.S. government has enacted the U.S. South Africa Relations Review Act, South Africa can solicit the services of a number of American consultants who have worked in the U.S. system, to assist them in getting meetings with members of the Department of State, Justice, Home Affairs, USAID, and other agencies dealing with South Africa and Congress, for them to give the South African perspective, to avert the passing of the act and the end to the two nations’ cordial relationship.

2. Hiring Lobbyists.

They can also seek lobbyists to lobby Congress members by conscientizing them on the geopolitical considerations that are driving South Africa’s decisions and actions, so that these Congress members will not vote for the enactment of the act, but instead they may push for more concessions from the U.S. government to South Africa.

Nevertheless, if the South African government is unsuccessful in stopping the enactment of the act and the U.S. government declares South Africa a threat to its national security, which leads to the imposition of IEEPA; then the South African government would need to deal with these unilateral and illegal economic coercive measures by:

3. Undertaking A Publicity Campaign.

The South African government and business community can also undertake a comprehensive publicity campaign and roadshows in America to inform American businesses, financial institutions, government officials, congressmen, and the public that the U.S. government is about to undertake illegal sanctions on South Africa that will block U.S. businesses from the biggest and most advanced market in Africa.

This message will also reiterate that such a move would also deprive U.S. industry access to South Africa’s strategic resources and the gateway into Africa which the Russians and Chinese would then use to consolidate their position in Africa.

Furthermore, the message would also conscientize Americans to the fact that this imposition of illegal sanctions by their government would be met by legal action in line with HRC resolution 34/13, and that could see the American people paying reparations and damages for the impact of illegal sanctions on Africa’s second biggest economy.

4. Taking Legal Action.

As a first step, the country could approach the World Bank’s ICSID (International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes) to stop U.S. and other global companies, financial institutions, investors, and entities from pulling critical investment, products (like seeds, fertilizers, and technology sold to South Africa on warranty) and services (software) from South Africa because this would deprive South Africans the enjoyment of the full-life of those products and services; hinder investments, debt repayments and free & fair global trade.

Additionally, in the same spirit of fighting measures that hinder free and fair international trade, the South Africans can also approach the World Trade Organization to sue the United States government for breaching GATT by imposing unilateral sanctions for political aims and not self-defense from a threat to sovereignty, which is the only reason a nation may be permitted to impose unilateral sanctions on a member state.

It doesn’t end there, as the illegal imposition of sanctions by the United States on South Africa, and the illegal implementation and overcompliance with those sanctions by third parties in South Africa and other African countries, can be taken to South African courts, individual African courts, and the African Court.

Finally, the South African government as a last resort can approach the International Court of Justice, where Iran took the United States in 2016, for imposing illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran to complement the legal UN sanctions for Nuclear Proliferation, and the court ruled in Iran’s favor in 2023.

Written by Rutendo Matinyarare, Chairman of Zimbabwe Anti Sanctions Movement and Zimbabweans Unite Against U.S. War Sanctions.

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