Foreign Influence Leading Cause of Conflict in Africa, Says Minister Pandor During Blinken Visit | [allAfrica] Cape Town -- Financial interest in African countries' resources is the determining factor negatively influencing governance and peace effo

Foreign Influence Leading Cause of Conflict in Africa, Says Minister Pandor During Blinken Visit

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Cape Town — Financial interest in African countries' resources is the determining factor negatively influencing governance and peace efforts, South Africa's  Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi  Pandor said during a press conference with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who is on a five-nation African tour. This is the first strategic dialogue between the U.S. and South Africa in seven years.

Answering questions from journalists, Pandor spoke against foreign nations seeking to dictate African governance and democratic processes. "You come in and seek to teach a country. We know how democracy functions. I think it leads to defeat so we need to think in different ways," Pandor said.

The minister, who also criticised external intrusion on peacekeeping efforts across the continent, said: "I also think that that one of the experiences we also need to learn and draw lessons from is the reality that there has been a lot of external interference in Africa and a lot of that external interference has fuelled conflict in many African countries, has fuelled instability, has supported opposition groups against liberation fighters and so on, you know the history, perhaps better than myself."

Pandor said foreign interests in the continent's mineral wealth is a greater threat to nations' stability than private military companies like Wagner Group or Dyck Advisory Group. Their destabilising techniques, with the other examples cited, is what gives rise to insecurity, bad governance and the absence of democracy in Africa, she said. "It's not a one-country problem. It's a world phenomenon which results from Africa's rich mineral wealth that has made it a significant target of external players that don't always have the interests of Africa at heart."

Russia-Ukraine War - Where does South Africa stand?

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Speaking on the Russia-Ukraine war, Pandor emphasised South Africa's neutral stance on the conflict, adding: "We must continuously reinforce our common commitment to multilateralism, democracy and human rights — and use the proven tools of diplomacy, peace-building dialogue and mediation to resolve conflict and end the intolerable and unnecessary human suffering as a result of wars and other forms of conflict."

Pandor welcomed Blinken's not asking South Africa to choose a side in the war, though it contrasts previous experiences. ""I'm glad Secretary Blinken has confirmed that America is not asking us to choose. I don't recall any attempt by the United States to do that, but in terms of interaction with some of our partners in Europe and elsewhere, there has been a sense of patronising bullying toward 'you choose this or else'," Pandor said.

Pandor said it was important for all sovereign nations to be able to hold different opinions as all are equal under the United Nations Charter, even without economic equality.

"We may differ in terms of economic power and ability to influence development in different parts of the world, but what will make the world work is if we respect each other. This is very, very important and one thing I definitely dislike is being told either 'you choose this or else'. When a minister speaks to me like that, which Secretary Blinken has never done but some have, I definitely will not be bullied in that way, nor would I expect any other African country worth its salt to agree to be treated," she said.

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