Hudson Institute

Fact Sheet: The African National Congress’s Hostility toward the United States

Chinese President Xi Jinping with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend the 2018 China-Africa Cooperation Summit at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend the 2018 China-Africa Cooperation Summit at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 4, 2018. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor recently visited the United States to assure Americans that South Africa’s “intentions are honest and positive” and that Pretoria “regard[s] America as an important strategic partner for South Africa.”

Yet Pandor’s African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled South Africa since 1994, consistently opposes the US ideologically, strategically, and morally.

Ideologically. The ANC understands itself as a part of the “Progressive International Revolutionary Movement” that must reorder an oppressive international system led by the “hyper-power” US and its “rapacious licence of empire.”

  • African National Congress, December 1, 1994: “A new era has dawned whose main content is, inter-alia, the ever-growing conflict between a highly-industrialised and affluent North and an impoverished, under-developed, highly populated South. . . . South Africa stands firmly as a country of the South.”
  • African National Congress, December 20, 2007: “The unique dominance of one ‘hyper-power’ . . . is reminiscent of empires of a bygone era . . . when brute force was the currency of geopolitical intercourse.”
  • African National Congress, 2022: “A bold and militant advocacy is required for the fundamental transformation of the global balance of forces, a radical restructuring of global governance, and a progressive global movement. These are the principles that have informed the stance of the ANC in its history as a liberation movement since its formation in 1912. . . . The core of the neoliberal international order remains under a great degree of strain due to the aggressive posture of the USA.”

Strategically. The ANC and Pretoria work closely with America’s greatest adversaries: Iran, Russia, and China.



  • African National Congress, 2015: “[The US] has instead declared a cold war against these two emerging world powers [China and Russia]. . . . It is an encirclement strategy that seeks to isolate Russia. . . . This is the context within which the crisis in Ukraine should be understood by the world progressive forces. The war taking place in Ukraine is not about Ukraine. Its intended target is Russia. . . . Washington’s sponsored destabilisation is not limited to Russia and China.”1
  • In December 2022, a US-sanctioned Russian vessel docked in a South African naval base and loaded cargo. The US ambassador to South Africa described this cargo as weapons for Russia.2
  • In 2022, the ANC accepted funding from a company linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch.
  • In January 2023, the South African navy participated in joint naval exercises off the South African coast with China and Russia on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • African National Congress, March 5, 2023: “The US provoked the war with Russia over Ukraine, hoping to put Russia it in place. . . . The Western imperialist dominance over Eastern Europe is being advanced . . . through US-led expansionist military strategies.”
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was one of only 16 African heads of state to attend the Russia-Africa summit in July 2023.3
  • In February 2024, the ANC’s secretary general delivered an address in Moscow at a forum about opposing neocolonialism.
  • Former ANC head and South African President Jacob Zuma recently founded a political party that is polling around 10 percent. Zuma is so close to Moscow that there is credible evidence that he is an asset of Russian military intelligence.


  • African National Congress, 2015: “[America’s] destabilisation strategy against China is on three fronts. . . . The US, backed by its ideological apparatus, has tried a repeat of the Tiananmen Square against the Chinese government by parading to the world counter revolution as a popular uprising and counter revolutionaries as human rights activists.”
  • African National Congress, 2015: “China [sic] economic development trajectory remains a leading example of the triumph of humanity over adversity. The exemplary role of the collective leadership of the Communist Party of China in this regard should be a guiding lodestar of our own struggle.”
  • ANC National Executive Committee member Dakota Legoete, December 5, 2023: “Through concerted efforts in the era of President Xi, we have witnessed growing strength in which China’s ethnic minorities have enjoyed the best years in the last two decades.”
  • ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula, March 20, 2024: “The ANC and the [Chinese Communist Party] are glued together by the principled bond on the struggle against the domination of one nation by another, and what recently in the International Forum in Russia was succinctly and appropriately characterised as the ‘Freedom of Nations.’”
  • In 2008, the ANC began sending senior cadres to China to train with the CCP. The ANC modeled its training school for senior leaders after the CCP’s China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong.

Morally. South Africa led the international campaign against Israel while ignoring or defending violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in countries like China, Syria, North Korea, and Zimbabwe.

The ANC-led South African government is trying to convince American policymakers that it is nonaligned. However, the ANC’s policy documents and actions demonstrate that it is aligned against the US and is hostile to core American national security interests. US policymakers have strong reasons to respond, but they should only target those who are responsible for the ANC’s hostility. Doing so adroitly would encourage the significant pro-American elements in the country. A dexterous response would also lessen the possibility that South Africa falls irredeemably into the anti-US axis of revisionist powers.

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