[in] focus

South Africa-Nigeria Tensions: Whither Cooperation for Common African interests?

Wasted opportunity is a phrase that best captures the unexplored possibilities for cooperation between two of Africa’s major powers — Nigeria and South Africa. Embroiled in numerous feats of tug-of-war, South Africa and Nigeria find themselves opposing one another too often. This leaves little room for heightening political and economic cooperation between the two African powerhouses.

The battle for a potential African seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been a major source of contention between South Africa and Nigeria. As the most populous African nation, Nigeria’s permanent membership on the UNSC would more proportionately represent the African continent. Similarly, as the most economically advanced country in Africa, a seat for South Africa could signify increased economic possibilities for UN operations in Africa. While both South Africa and Nigeria offer compelling arguments for UNSC permanent occupancy, they would do well to ensure that their competition for permanent membership is not at the expense of their relationship.

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Contextualising South Africa’s Foreign Policy Towards Zimbabwe

South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, seems to be tougher on Zimbabwe than former president Thabo Mbeki with his much criticised ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach. What led to this rapid change?

Zuma can be condemned for many controversial decisions he has made in the past, but one has to give him credit for promoting a democratic process in Zimbabwe. As vice-president under Mbeki, Zuma was not particularly outspoken about the Zimbabwe situation. This changed soon after he lost his position as vice-president.

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Does Africa Matter Enough to Africa?

The title of a recent research report by Standard Bank economists is provocative: "Does Africa Matter Enough to Africa?" It is about missed opportunities and untapped potential, but the debates about it are about what Standard Bank represents in the minds of critics. And this is very important.

In many media spaces including blogs, this concern about the patronizing attitude of South Africa Inc, which is predominantly white has surfaced. There is very little discussion of the contents of the report. This too is important as how we are perceived has a bearing on how our admonition or advice is received.

Very little of this discussion has reached the South African media. I suspect this is to do with a general disconnect between the SA media (including electronic) and its counterparts in the rest of Africa. The SA media frequently publishes opinion pieces, columns and news articles drawn from their counterparts in the UK and other parts of the western world. South Africa is assumed to be part of this world. I have yet to see any article borrowed from the Daily Nation in Kenya, the This Day in Nigeria or The Cameroon Tribune.

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Whither the DRC’s ‘unattractive’ democracy?

Despite lingering uncertainties, the citizens of the DRC are scheduled to go to the polls on 28 November 2011 to elect a new president and members of the national legislature. In the context of the country’s democratic transition, the November polls should ideally serve two overarching and related purposes – assist in assessing the degree of democratic maturity that has been attained after seven years, and serve as a mechanism for renewing what was thought to be a collective commitment to building a peaceful, democratic and prosperous society.

The preliminary phase of the current electoral process has been quite successful in meeting these expectations, even if the reality it has exposed is an uncomfortable one. It has brought to the fore a significant deficiency in the Congolese polity as it relates to the fundamental values of openness, tolerance, inclusiveness and the propensity to dialogue, which are central to the good health of every aspiring democracy.

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ZANU-PF Throwing Tantrums at SADC over the Elections

It is almost certain that Zimbabwe will go for elections this year, marking an inauspicious end to a rather difficult term of inclusive government after the signing of the Global Political Agreement signed between the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in September 2008. The paralysis experienced in the government of national unity between the leaders at loggerheads has made the 2011 elections a welcome end to the present interim government for the Zanu- PF. But whether conditions are ripe for elections right now is a matter for much debate in and outside Zimbabwe. This opinion pieces reviews the political debates in Zimbabwe, which have gained momentum following the recent SADC Organ Summit in Zambia.

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