So begins The Economist’s latest editorial on South Africa’s foreign policy: a piece headlined ‘Clueless and immoral’. South Africa, the publication declaims, “risks becoming a laughing-stock, not least in Africa itself”.
It contrasts the government’s refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama with the “whisk(ing) away” of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. It accuses the ANC of unwarranted hostility to the West in order to boost relations with China, when Europe remains South Africa’s biggest trading partner. It also cites the aid given to Africa by the West to fund HIV/Aids efforts, and the military assistance offered to tackle “jihadist militias” in Mali and Nigeria.
Taking questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa made no direct reference to The Economist’s views – though the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) did so obliquely when an MP described the country’s foreign policy as “clueless and immoral”.