New US ambassador to SA pledges to promote 'Ubuntu diplomacy'

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Reuben E Brigety. (Photo via United States of America Department of State)
Reuben E Brigety. (Photo via United States of America Department of State)
  • Reuben E Brigety has been confirmed as the US ambassador to South Africa.
  • Zambia and Tanzania are also expected to get new ambassadors soon.
  • Analysts have urged the US to prioritise the appointments of ambassadors and special envoys in Africa.

The US Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy has resolved that President Joe Biden's nominee, Reuben E Brigety II, is the new ambassador to South Africa.

The vote was 55 for and 40 against the 48-year-old career diplomat's next port of call.

Announcing the news on his Twitter handle, Brigety said he was "honored to be confirmed by the US Senate".

In May, Brigety appeared before the subcommittee to present his credentials.

He said his role in South Africa would be to promote "Ubuntu diplomacy", a phenomenon academics refer to as an African philosophical worldview that increasingly gained prominence in South Africa since 1994.

He said: 

In practising Ubuntu diplomacy, I will ensure that official US engagement with the government and people of South Africa is firmly rooted in the principles of common cause and mutual recognition.

Since his nomination, he said he had been familiarising himself with South African history and literature.

What had stood out was his reading of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu's memoirs, No Future Without Forgiveness - a book where Tutu narrates his childhood and coming of age during the apartheid era.

Brigety said it was an extraordinary work, produced by an extraordinary man.

Several African countries currently do not have US ambassadors, something political analysts say is  not good for America's diplomacy on the continent which is facing a challenge from Russia's soft power and Chinese machinations.

READ | US sanctions SA men, two others for allegedly supporting ISIS, securing funds

"The US must prioritise the appointments of ambassadors and special envoys in Africa. All such critical positions must be filled in earnest. It signals US commitment to those countries and the global challenges the US shares with them," said Mvemba Phezo Dizolele - director and Senior Fellow, Africa Program, Centre for Strategic International Studies - when he appeared before the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs Africa and Europe Subcommittees last week.

In Zambia, the Biden administration is expected to send Michael C Gonzales, a career diplomat in the Senior Foreign Service, who is set to leave his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs.

For Tanzania, it will probably be Michael Anthony Battle, whose last mission on the continent at the African Union in 2009.


   

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

 


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