On Monday, 13 February 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Jacob Zuma over the phone in order to touch base after his inauguration. No details of the conversation were revealed to the public before the discussion, but it was hoped by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa that Trump would have a positive outlook on U.S. relations with South Africa and Africa as a whole.
While there was a lot of speculation as to what the phone call would be about, it inevitably centred around trade and security. The first major point was the commitment to strengthening the current trade relations between South Africa and the U.S. - what is known as a bilateral relationship, a political relationship between two parties that allows each party to express their views. There are currently 600 US based companies in South Africa and Trump and Zuma have reaffirmed the need to continue working together to maintain strong trade relations.
The second major point emphasized by Trump was that he’d like South Africa to be more involved in countering terrorism within Africa, particularly Nigeria as well as in other regions around the world affected by terrorism. Trump also called the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari on the same day and expressed his willingness to provide aircraft for sale to Nigeria in order to contribute towards the fight against the militant Islamic group Boko Haram.
Ramaphosa has expressed the opinion that whatever policies shall emerge from the relationship, he hopes that they are mutually beneficial. According to his discussion with African News Agency he has stated that, “we should have policies that will prosper the people of the United States, as they prosper the people of Africa”. While we don’t know the finer details of the discussion, it looks as though both Trump and Zuma are committed to strengthening the already positive relationship. Trump has not only had telephonic discussions with African presidents but also Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia and Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia.