After 25 years, how has Canada’s

Despite major advances in the fight against apartheid and corruption, the United States remains conflicted about the idea of sanctions against South Africa. Whether an African nation is no longer responsible for the oppression…

After 25 years, how has Canada’s

Despite major advances in the fight against apartheid and corruption, the United States remains conflicted about the idea of sanctions against South Africa.

Whether an African nation is no longer responsible for the oppression of its citizens is debatable. More than 25 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa remains one of the world’s most corrupt countries, with a paltry 8 percent ranking in Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index. A recent survey by Ethos Security shows that nearly two-thirds of South Africans believe their government has not done enough to tackle corruption. The trust between citizens and their leaders has been eroded so badly that in 2016, South Africa’s Constitutional Court found that the country was engaged in “direct and immediate conflict” with the rule of law.

In place of the world’s largest nation attempting to meet its obligations, and our own commission finding that South Africa is still failing to provide for the most basic human rights, Canada has firmly ruled out the idea of lifting sanctions against South Africa. Even under Canada’s existing open-ended sanctions policy, in order to allow for the lifting of sanctions against South Africa, that country would have to conform to three specific conditions: abandoning its policy of apartheid; ensuring that political violence in the country continues to be prevented; and protecting women’s rights to choose abortion, a crime under South African law.

Though Canada is not alone in establishing these specific requirements, it should do more to lift the blanket ban on travel and trade restrictions imposed on South Africa, no matter how strongly the government of South Africa has fought against authoritarianism and corruption.

The South African government has largely focused its efforts to fight corruption on reforming its judicial system. Although it is still dealing with graft allegations in the White House and other government offices, President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to usher in sweeping legal reform and bring more transparency and accountability to South Africa’s system of justice. The Crown Prosecution Service has put corrupt lawyers on trial, though what has gone unanswered by the public is the scale of corruption in the judiciary.

In October, 2018, a South African judge ruled that President Jacob Zuma violated his oath of office by taking bribes from Indian businessmen and then lying about it to investigators. South African citizens asked the U.S. government to revoke Robert Mugabe’s travel ban, as he has likewise abused his office for his personal gain. Why should South Africa be treated differently?

Even with all the tensions and scandals that have occurred under the leadership of President Zuma, Canada has struggled to do more than apply sanctions and remand the country to the same standards as other countries in our own hemisphere. And it is disturbing that Canada has refused to put South Africa on the same level as its neighbors.

In February, Canada voted in favor of a resolution condemning the “greed, selfishness and self-interest” that caused the crisis in Venezuela. But according to Global Affairs Canada, of the 24 countries that participated in the vote, only five (South Africa, Guyana, Botswana, Mauritius and Gabon) voted against.

The Canadian government’s continued refusal to revisit the notion of trade sanctions or travel bans against South Africa underscores a troubling trend: While Canada continues to question the efficacy of sanctions, in many cases, Canada is lagging far behind other governments. Since 2002, five of Canada’s bilateral trade partners in Africa have lifted some of their sanctions against Zimbabwe and Burundi, and four of Canada’s neighbors in the region have removed their own limits. Canada does not have access to the information contained in other countries’ decisions to lift sanctions.

Canada should recognize that it could show a more active leadership role when it comes to matters of trade and human rights in countries around the world. Its Government should reassess its stance on the Travel Ban and the Travel Restriction and the Trade Ban on South Africa. The sanctions are too stringent to be lifted on South Africa; they should be relaxed to allow South Africans to travel to Canada for trade purposes.

The amendment to trade sanctions that Canada recently proposed remains flawed. Even if certain trade restrictions were lifted, South Africa would still face severe conditions and roadblocks to ensuring that it meets its international obligations. The Foreign Affairs department must meet with opposition parties and Canadian intergovernmental organizations to work with the opposition in South Africa on revising the existing sanctions policy to remove these sanctions.

A key issue that needs to be addressed is the lack of clarity on the role of the African Development Bank, which continues to be the largest funder of the ANC. Without better clarity on how the bank is aligned with donor partners, Canadians

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