'US is strengthening partnership with SA'

American Corner hub relaunches in Maponya Mall

Koena Mashale Journalist
USA ambassador Rueben E. Brigety during the opening of American Spaces at the Maponya Mall in Soweto.
USA ambassador Rueben E. Brigety during the opening of American Spaces at the Maponya Mall in Soweto.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The US ambassador to SA says his country continues to maintain a strong and robust relationship with SA despite members of the American Congress pushing to cut ties. 

Speaking exclusively to Sowetan, Reuben E. Brigety II said the conversations from congressmen to US President Joe Biden was something the SA government should not fear. 

“Short answer is absolutely not, the United States maintains a very strong and robust relationship with South Africa that covers a wide variety of initiatives.

"In fact, we just launched a new initiative called Atlanta Phambili to use the ecosystem of the city of Atlanta with its great heritage as the cradle of the American civil rights movement and strong ties to the anti-apartheid Struggle as the locus point for us to continue to advance forward,” said Brigety. 

His affirmation follows a warning earlier this year in February from Democratic representative Jared Moskowitz and Republican representative John James, his colleague on the House foreign relations committee, about a proposed bill that would mandate a comprehensive review of the US's bilateral relationship with SA.

The warning comes a month after the International Court of Justice's ruling on US ally, Israel, in a case brought against it by SA in January.

SA wanted the court to recognise the war in Gaza as genocide against Palestinians. Although the court did not instruct Israel to stop its attacks, it did request that the Israeli military comply with the Genocide Convention by preventing further deaths and allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn Gaza strip where thousands have died since October last year after Hamas's attack on Israel.

"President Biden and his administration continues to move very heavily forward in strengthening and advancing our partnership with South Africa,” Brigety said. 

In another ongoing initiative to strengthen ties with SA, the US has relaunched American Corner hub in Maponya Mall, Soweto. 

This hub is being transferred from its old facility in Ipeleng community centre, which was the Rosa Parks Library from 1977 to 2022. This is a place where people can go to learn more about the US and also to gain entrepreneurial and educational opportunities.

“This is a relaunch of our continuous presence in South Africa, specifically Soweto, creating opportunities for young people in the country to come and learn about the United States to gain digital resources for their education and learn about entrepreneurial opportunities and training. A living example of partnership between the people of America and the people of South Africa, and particularly to encourage youth empowerment,” said Brigety. 

Brigety said this being a soft launch, numerous community organisations and schools have been introduced to the facility. 

“Numbers of youth have come through which is actually consistent with the tens of thousands of youth that came through our Rosa Parks library, which operated for almost 15 years,” said Brigety. 

Having over nine hubs across the country, Brigety said a few are going through renovations like the one situated at Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria. 

He also said security was one element they were aware of, and were quite happy about the decision and encouragement from local members who assisted in facilitating the relationship between them and the Maponya Mall hub. 

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