Lana Marks, new US ambassador to South Africa. Picture: Larry Busacca / Getty Images / AFP
Many are those who mock US President Donald Trump for the way he conducts himself … but one cannot ignore the fact that the Americans are still the biggest players on the international geopolitical stage.
So, it was more than interesting to hear the positive remarks coming from Trump’s newly appointed ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, who has just arrived to take up her post after a hiatus of almost a year when the US embassy in Pretoria was without a top envoy.
Marks, who had a successful fashion handbag design and manufacturing business, was born and raised in South Africa and says she understands this country and its people, although she now considers herself fully American.
The message she brought was not her own; it was not even the message of Trump himself, who has been known in the past to make dismissive comments about developing nations. Her message was from the US government… and it was a positive one indeed.
The Trump administration has “full confidence” in President Cyril Ramaphosa and Washington is intent on increasing trade ties with South Africa.
Those links are already significant: US companies account for more than 200,000 jobs and contribute 10% to the country’s gross domestic product, while trade between the two countries totalled R203 billion last year.
The visible support for SA indicates Washington still regards this country as geopolitically important. Moscow also regards this country and Africa as a whole as an area in which to extend Russian interests, so the timing of Marks’ comments – soon after the high-profile visit of Russian air force planes to Pretoria – was significant.
This should be heartening for South Africans. If the major world powers think we are worth investing time on, perhaps we should stop selling ourselves short.
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