[in] focus

Can South Africa Navigate Trumpian Cascades?

trumpcrusadesIt remains to be seen if the Trump administration will go through with its threat to cut aid to South Africa as recently reported. This would be primarily because South Africa voted against the US in the UN, opposing a US resolution declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital. For good measure, Washington refused to exempt South Africa from ‘trade war’ tariffs on steel and aluminum which, according to Business Day could cost South Africans 7500 jobs.

Clearly South Africa is ‘Beloved Country’ no more in Trump’s Washington! Apart from the notion of penalizing South Africa as among states more likely to vote against the US at the UN being a blatantly imperialist display of bullying on the basis of Tshwane joining most other UN members in opposing indefensible pro-Israel/anti-Palestinian policies, such a prospect also intersects a number of converging dimensions in US-Middle East policy.

This convergence has the potential to generate an anti-apartheid activist remobilization linking the liberation of black South and southern Africans and the unfulfilled liberation of Palestinians from an increasingly apartheid-like yoke of oppression under an increasingly autocratic settler-dominated Israeli regime. Such linkage need not stop there given Saudi Arabia’s inclusion as a key alliance partner with Washington and Tel-Aviv against Iran and an Iran Nuclear Deal the Trump administration has already violated.

Trump’s problem with the nuclear deal is simply this: his predecessor, President Barack Obama did it and neither Israel nor the Saudis like it and prefer confrontation instead of diplomacy between the US and Tehran. Never mind how this resonates in the North Korea ‘denuclearization’ sweepstakes. What Trump’s policy of basing bilateral diplomacy on US-UN Ambassador Nikki ‘taking names’ Haley’s UN Voting Practices Report boils down to is an exercise in coercive diplomacy: to bully key regional states in different parts of the world into an America First imperium anchored in an anti-Iranian sectarian geopolitical alliance with Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Such interlinkages in any American-based and/or international campaign of resistance to Trumpian Cascades in the foreign policy realm holds out the potential for very real SA-US bilateral tensions centered around Israel’s problematic role in the Middle East as opposed to the domestically -orchestrated anti-Americanism of former President Jacob Zuma. How President Cyril Ramaphosa navigates this terrain apart from Nigeria’s very pronouced pro-Trump posture reflected in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent White House visit remains to be seen. Indeed, the timing of Buhari’s visit and its high profile Rose Garden news conference coverage is a statement in how Washington is defining its Africa policy under Trump. For good measure, in the immediate run-up to the visit, Abuja and Lagos-based Premium Times carried a report titled “Boko Haram: Nigeria did not get required support from Obama – Presidency,” citing Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.    

Of course, Nigerians know very well, playing into Trump’s racist ego in bashing Obama will get them everywhere in today’s Washington. This is as Obama makes it down to South Africa in July to deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. The question this poses: will Obama, a former anti-apartheid activist in his student days, have anything to say about the deteriorating state of US-South African relations under Trump? One shouldn’t hold one’s breath on this one as African-American leadership, even including the former White House occupant, is largely ‘missing in action’ these days.

This is all unfortunate for President Ramaphosa as his DNA dictates he would definitely like improving US-South African relations. These were not helped by the less than friendly vibes emanating from his predecessor. Quite an irony this, because Zuma conveyed a cold war anti-imperialist divide between a South Africa-aligned BRICS and the US and the West as if BRICS were the alliance it is not. Now Ramaphosa, having launched his economic diplomacy offensive hits the wall of Pax-Americana’s Trumpian impulsiveness.

Moreover, Obama arrives in Johannesburg in what amounts to ‘BRICS Month’ when the BRICS Summit takes place in South Africa. Thus, do prospects of a Trump-inspired cold war against Ramaphosa’s economic diplomacy amid a prospective US-Nigeria axis portend possibly reinforcing fissures between South Africa and Nigeria at a time when Tshwane needs to flesh out Zuma’s ‘regional outreach’ in articulating a compelling BRICS-Africa strategy on the continent? The possible pathway out of these dilemmas may suggest itself in the forging of a pan-African Kigali Declaration alliance that Ramaphosa recently signed South Africa up to which should lead to ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). This would be in tandem with generating momentum in the eastern and southern African ‘Cape to Cairo’ Tripartite FTA between the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).

This implicates the need for building up a comprehensive Afroasiatic Indian Ocean Rim strategy beyond the functionalism of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in forging geoeconomic links with Southeast Asia’s ASEAN Economic Community. But this takes South Africa right back into the thickets of the Middle East as the geopolitics of the fractured Gulf Cooperation Council destabilizes the Northeast African-Red Sea subregion of the Cape-to-Cairo mega-FTA while Ethiopia and Egypt remain at loggerheads over the impact of Addis’ Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Nile River Basin waters.  Can South Africa insert itself into calming these waters sufficiently to benefit interregional trade integration along the eastern-southern African littoral? Could this not form part of its BRICS agenda as it sticks to its guns on Israel-Palestine while waiting out the follies of US foreign policy a la Trump. Perhaps, if and when Nigeria ends its aloofness to the KigalI Declaration, South Africa and Nigeria might overcome the implicit divide-and-conquor overtones of Trumpian Cascades. As someone we know likes to say: “We shall see what happens”!  

 

Francis A. Kornegay, Jr. is the senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA and Global Fellow of The Wilson Centre in Washington.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent IGD/Unisa policy.

TRUMP’S MULTIPOLARITY Part I

trumpBy abrogating the Iran Nuclear Deal at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog-and-pony show pretext, US President Donald Trump has further isolated the US into a weakened geo-strategic position globally and especially in reference to the emerging Eurasian-Indian Ocean continental-maritime geopolitical-economic complex. For now, Washington hooks its Middle Eastern wagon to Israeli-Saudi Arabian détente in an anti-Iran alliance aimed at checking Tehran’s regional ambitions. In so doing, Trump is more than willing to give short shrift to Europe and to threaten it with sanctions if it doesn’t toe the line on Iran. Trump has nothing but contempt for the European Union. Yet there is another dimension rounding out Trump’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This has to do with factoring in the possibly sustained rapprochement between North and South Korea, with China’s oversight, irrespective of what comes out of the Kim-Trump tete-a-tete.

If one combines these two developments, as they continue to unfold, with Trump’s exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, what emerges is a potentially new northern hemispheric landscape from Atlantic to Pacific uniting Europe and Asia. By ignoring advice from Britain, France and Germany not to abandon the JCPOA which is crucial to Europe’s geoeconomic autonomy from Russian energy dependence via Iran, Europe is being driven ever closer into a Greater Eurasian scenario driven by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) amid a fragmenting transatlantic Euro-American alignment, already weakened by Brexit. In the process, the only option facing Brussels is greater strategic autonomy from Washington while avoiding co-optation into Beijing’s trans-Eurasian integration project via the Sino-Russian co-chaired Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to which Iran will eventually join along with new members India and Pakistan. Beijing is first among equals in co-leadership with a Kremlin trying to wedge its Eurasian Economic Union into the east-west Eurasian equation as a means of enhancing its restoration as post-cold war great power.

By the US opting out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, it geo-strategically plays into the Great Game agendas of both Russia and China. Moscow, after all, is angling to reconfigure Middle East power equations in such a way as to reinsert Russia into pole position in shaping regional realignment through its Syria-driven Turkey-Iranian triple entente. With or without the JCPOA, there is no way Russia will be forced into sanctions renewal against Tehran. The same goes for China as Iran occupies the geo-strategic hub in conjunction with the Afghanistan-Pakistan nexus linking the Levant and Southwest Asia to Central Asia and the offshore interconnectivity of the Indian Ocean. India’s reactive military aligning in its Quad with the US, Japan and Australia will not disrupt Beijing’s continental-maritime momentum although India could more or less make peace with China’s agenda were it to envision a Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the Indian and Pacific Oceans encompassing the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium. There is no reason why such an inclusive initiative complementing China’s BRI would not accommodate Delhi’s Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

With or without India, China’s BRI Eurasian continental-maritime momentum, with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) financing will power ahead in forging transcontinental integration between East Asia and Europe while drawing in the African intersection at the Northwest Indian Ocean entre into the eastern Mediterranean. For Europe, as transatlantic ties weaken and Europe assumes greater autonomy viz-a-viz the US, the EU will evolve a new ‘West Eurasia’ identity within the trans-Eurasian landscape. What about the other end of this political geography? This is where the dramatic developments on the Korean Peninsula take on major significance. Irrespective of arriving at a Korean Peace Treaty out of the prospective US-North Korean summit, a non-aggression pact or understanding between the two Koreas placing peace before ‘denuclearization’ (instead of the other way around) could create a de facto geopolitical-economic and security arrangement backed by China and supported by Russia marginalizing the US into a more sharply defined offshore strategic posture.

Japan would have every incentive to focus on a triangular relationship with China and the two Koreas as already exists in ASEAN + 3 on the Asian side of the Indian Ocean. This would round out ‘East Eurasia’ in an evolving regionalized multipolarity where, the US, post-Trump, depending on the trajectory of America’s domestic politics will have to renegotiate its way back into a much diminished global leadership role. Thus, amid the flimflam of a masculine toughening and firmness now being attributed by some in the mainstream American media to Trump as they try indulging him away from his hostility, US global primacy is in retreat. Retreat is driven by a domestic partisan political agenda coming from the alt-right instead of from the left which was always accused of wanting America to abdicate global leadership. Quite an irony and all the more so when trying to decifer what President Barack Obama had in mind. Stay tuned.

Francis A. Kornegay, Jr. is the senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA and Global Fellow of The Wilson Centre in Washington.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent IGD/Unisa policy.

Will South Africa’s economic diplomacy in Southeast Asia strengthen under President Ramaphosa?

SAecondipSouth Africa’s bilateral relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states has always been described as of significance in navigating South Africa’s interests in the Global South. More important, the ASEAN economic bloc is one of the priority markets for South Africa’s Export Market Diversification Strategy.

So far trade in goods between South Africa and ASEAN is favourable to ASEAN, for example South Africa’s exports to ASEAN between 2014 and 2016 dropped from US$3.4 billion in 2014, to US$2.4 billion in 2015 and US$2.2 billion in 2016. On the other hand South Africa imported more from ASEAN in the same period, with US$6.9 billion in 2014, to US$5.4 billion in 2015 and US$4.9 billion in 2016.

What is needed from South Africa is to ensure that there are more formal institutional links, technical co-operation, the protection of regional stability and trade relations on the basis of reciprocity in its relations with the ASEAN community.

This was echoed by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Bulelani Magwanishe in the ASEAN-Africa Business Forum that was held in 2017 in Sandton. The business forum was one of the initiatives attempting to increase ASEAN and Africa’s economic diplomacy by promoting business between the two regions.

With the newly elected President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa promising to improve economic growth by increasing business confidence, wooing investors and expanding trade, which will translate into job creation and poverty reduction, ASEAN is also one of the regions that South Africa needs to navigate increasingly and have a strategic approach that will not only support South Africa’s business opportunities but also pave way for the promotion of inter-regional economic diplomacy between SADC and ASEAN.

At the same time this could be a start in the quest to institutionalize the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) as a driver of Asia-Africa relations. The creation of the NAASP was initiated in the 2005 Asia-Africa Conference golden jubilee to create institutional links and advances cooperation between the two continents, however NAASP is currently not operational. Thus, a closer economic engagement between ASEAN and SADC, will not only help to solidify relations between the regions, it also has the potential to boost trade between Africa and Asia.

The groundwork has already been started to channel South Africa’s economic interests in the ASEAN region, since 2013 South Africa has been active in promoting its foreign policy tracks in bilateral meetings with the ASEAN member states to strengthen relations. What needs to be done by President Ramaphosa’s government is to give necessary attention to how South Africa can better identify opportunities in the Southeast Asia region such as the role of state-owned enterprises in advancing economic growth and national developmental objectives. 

ASEAN is also stepping up its efforts to boost bilateral trade relations and investment with South Africa. South Africa, together with Nigeria and Egypt have the largest import markets in Africa for ASEAN goods, and  currently there are more than 300 companies from ASEAN operating in Africa, with trade growing at 15% between ASEAN and Africa since 1989.

Thus, to ensure a concrete strategy and to solidify South Africa’s economic diplomacy in the ASEAN region, South Africa must seek for the formalisation of relations with the ASEAN community, to be included in the ASEAN external relations which is the formal status of Dialogue Partner, Sectoral Dialogue Partner, or Development Partner with ASEAN. The formalisation for relations with ASEAN, as I suggested 3 years ago in ‘the prospects of South Africa’s engagement with ASEAN countries’ will enable the South African government to build a united and a strategic approach on what constitutes South African interests in the Southeast Asia region.

Mr. Kenny Dlamini holds a BA Hons in Political & International Studies from Rhodes University and is a research officer at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the IGD

Africa and globalisation: Transforming from taker to shaper?

africaIn recent years, a growing number of G20 nation states have used various forms of summit diplomacy to enhance engagement with the African continent through regular high-level meetings. These have been operationalised through initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa CooperationIndia-Africa Forum SummitAfrica-EU Summit, the Korea-Africa Forum, the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, the United States-Africa Leaders Summit, and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Except for the summit with the EU, all of these initiatives are essentially putting together a single country with an entire continent. The partnerships span the parameters of both South-South and North-South cooperation, presenting opportunities for the African continent to diversify its international relations and cooperation.

Africa’s growing web of global partnerships

The increased interest in Africa comes within the context of a continent that experienced an extended period of growth, with six to seven African countries repeatedly appearing in the list of the fastest growing economies in the world for an entire decade. With a young population projected to double to 2 billion by 2050, Africa was no longer only looking like the world’s problem, even though that narrative continues to be pervasive. It is increasingly obvious that Africa presents an opportunity for global powers; indeed the evidence suggests many opportunities to capitalize on the demographic dividend in Africa. This places a responsibility on African stakeholders to design strategies that will enhance the livelihoods of Africans and Africa’s place in the world.

The African continent needs to seize the initiative and shape those partnerships according to the individual, sub-regional, and collective interests of African stakeholders. Otherwise, it risks being mastered by its complex web of international partners instead. As the G20 seeks ways to engage the African continent, two important matters will have to be tackled in order to enhance African agency and institutionalise relation on equal terms. First, the issue of African representation in global summitry, and secondly, reducing the dependency on donors to finance Africa’s institutions such as the regional economic communities (RECs) and the African Union.

Who constitutes ‘Africa’ at global Summits?

The Kagame report on the imperative to reform the African Union, building on past initiatives such as the AU panel chaired by the late Professor Adebayo Adedeji, calls for the continent to rationalize its external partners, and to have a better distribution of labour between the various components of the AU system. The recommendations face the challenge of African nation states jealously guarding their sovereignty or looking to establish a sense of sovereignty in the first place. A key question will be who constitutes ‘Africa’ at the various summits with external powers.

The Kagame report recommends that ‘external parties should be invited to [AU] Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose, and that [p]artnership summits convened by external parties should be reviewed with a view to providing for an effective framework for African Union partnerships.’ It thus recommends that instead of all countries, Africa could be represented by:

  • Chairperson of the African Union
  • Previous Chairperson of the Union
  • Incoming Chairperson of the Union
  • Chairperson of the African Union Commission
  • Chairperson of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)

This would no doubt have an effect on the myriad partnership summits by individual G20 members and the shape and form that an institutionalised engagement between Africa and the G20 could possibly take. South Africa, like all other members of the G20 would thus be responsible for pursuing its national interests in the G20, which have a continental and global dynamic, whereas the official African representation would express the consolidated views from the continent. This would however need to form part of a broader G20 engagement with certain regions of the world, and not just be an Africa specific outreach. Indeed, the G20 already has EU representation through the EU Commission, and this would have to be seen in a similar light. While G20 decisions have an effect on much of the world’s population, there is no strong representation of least developed countries (LDCs) or regional bodies, and such an Africa outreach would have to be seen in the broader light of involving the rest of the world in G20 processes. It would thus be important to incorporate regional perspectives on the effects of G20 policies, especially on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in terms of aligning it to Agenda 2063, the Africa-driven strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.

Financing Africa’s pan-African institutions

Also important to ensuring that African interests are taken on board is the ability of African stakeholders to finance their own regional cooperation, development agenda, and institutions such as the AU, which remains disproportionately financed by external donors, many of whom are members of the G20. The challenge is not to diversify its funders but to self-finance its institutions. Indeed the numbers tell a story that needs urgent addressing. According to the Kagame Report, ‘In 2014, the African Union’s budget was US$308 million, more than half of which was funded by donors. In 2015, it rose by 30 percent to US$393 million, 63 percent of which was funded by donors. In 2016, donors contributed 60 per cent of the US$417 million budget. In 2017, member states [were] expected to contribute 26 percent of the proposed US$439 million budget, while donors [were] expected to contribute the remaining 74 per cent.’

It further states that ‘The AU’s programmes are 97 per cent funded by donors. By December 2016, only 25 out of 54 member states had paid their assessment for the financial year 2016 in full. Fourteen member states paid more than half their contribution and 15 have not made any payment. This level of dependence on external partner funds raises a fundamental question: How can member states own the African Union if they do not set its agenda?’

An inability to fund its own institutions means that even if Africa’s engagement with external powers were to be institutionalised in a more coordinated manner, it would still not be on equal terms, as many of the G20 countries would in effect be dictating the agenda. The Kagame Report thus raises integral issues for Africa’s place in the world, namely domestic resource mobilization and representation. In the short to medium term, African countries will have to pay serious attention to the domestic mobilization of resources, which will also include addressing matters such as illicit financial flows.

Enhancing African agency in globalisation

The matter of self-financing the continent’s institutions is thus important to ensuring greater representation and the exercise of greater agency in Africa’s global partnerships in general, and with the G20 in particular.

Africa is clearly not a monolithic actor, consisting of over 1 billion people with approximately 2000 languages and cultures, and a geographic space large enough to fit the United States, Western Europe, India, China, and Japan. It will thus be important for the vast array of state and non-state actors interacting with their interlocutors in the G20 countries to construct individual and sometimes collective strategies that engage with their counterparts in the global community.

If Africa is to move from being shaped by globalisation to shaping its evolution, then it must seriously address the matter of funding so that it advances its agency and provides greater representation for its people on the global stage. However, previous reform efforts must also be studied closely to understand why they were never fully implemented. While groups such as the T20, comprising think tanks from the G20 countries and the BRICS Academic Forum, which comprises think tanks and academic institutions from the BRICS countries, play important roles in fostering mutual understanding, they are not yet central to the ideas shaping the official summits. The challenge for think tanks is thus to use the platforms opening up to think tanks to build solid research communities amongst G20 and BRICS countries and institutions. Indeed think tanks must make use of the track two diplomacy and realise that global politics is no longer the domain of government-to-government relations alone.

 

Dr Philani Mthembu is the Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), associated with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a co-founder of the Berlin Forum on Global Politics, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of academic, expert, and public understanding of global politics.

 

This article was first published by the German Development Institute 02 May 2018

https://blogs.die-gdi.de/2018/05/02/africa-and-globalisation-transforming-from-taker-to-shaper/

South Africa’s 2018 foreign policy agenda: in pursuit of the national interest

saforpolThe beginning of 2018 came with what is possibly South Africa’s busiest diplomatic calendar year since 1994 as the country finds itself at the helm of various international and regional groupings that have strategic importance.  It thus chairs the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) group, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), while set to relinquish its rotational co-chairing of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and participate in the Group of 20 (G20) meeting as the only African representative.   South Africa assumes these leadership roles at a time when domestic politics are recovering from a leadership transition in the governing party, leading to the question of whether South Africa will be able to advance its national interest within both the African and global contexts.   

While trying to pursue its national interest of being people centred, including promoting the well-being, development and upliftment of its people, protecting the planet for future generations and ensuring the prosperity of the country; its region and continent as whole, South Africa’s post 1994 foreign policy has faced a number of challenges.  It has at times been characterised by inconsistencies and controversy, although there has been some continuity between the Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma administrations regarding their African agenda and international cooperation. Under Nelson Mandela, the focus was on championing human rights and re-joining the international community after South Africa had been isolated during the apartheid years. However, despite the more elevated human rights discourse during the Mandela years, he was also not immune to close scrutiny by various state and non-state actors about his choice of friends, which included close relations with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Palestine’s Yasser Arafat, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Indonesia’s Suharto.  When questioned about their human rights records, Mandela would often say that he was free to choose his friends. 

South Africa’s contradictory actions in relation to championing human rights have continued since the Mandela administration as the democratic government was confronted with the realities of global politics, where the pursuit of the national interest is not always aligned with one’s own internal values as a nation state.  In September 2014, the Dalai Lama’s application for a visa was denied, largely seen as South Africa putting its economic interests above human rights. Moreover, South Africa turned a blind eye to the widespread human rights violations in Zimbabwe leading up to the 2002 elections. A SADC Parliamentary Forum Observer Mission report on the Zimbabwe elections was suppressed by the Mbeki administration; the report had declared the elections unfair and unfree. From Mandela to contemporary times, all the administrations have been grappling with the complexity of advancing national interest and championing a human rights agenda that emanates from South Africa’s own internal struggle.

The Thabo Mbeki administration chose to elevate the African agenda, strengthening ties with other African countries and pushing for more recognition and benefits for Africa while promoting a more equitable global order. The Jacob Zuma administration was a continuation of this focus on South-South cooperation with South Africa’s membership of the BRICS grouping being a major accomplishment in advancement of the Global South agenda.

Furthermore, South Africa's position on the reform of the UN including its interest in a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and its participation in the G20 has added to the projected image of South Africa being the corporate and institutional gateway to the continent.  However, South Africa’s efforts in becoming a prominent power in the global South, such as its BRICS membership, its G20 participation and its UNSC ambitions, have also added to the negative perceptions of African countries about South Africa’s hegemony. African states have been sceptical of South Africa’s declarations that it will use its international representation to advocate for the issues plaguing the continent, as they do not necessarily share the view of South Africa as a continental leader.  Contradictions to the African agenda as a core tenet of South Africa’s foreign policy, including the outbreak of xenophobic attacks and its quiet diplomacy approach to the crisis in Zimbabwe, have also cast a shadow on its Afrocentric foreign policy orientation.

South Africa has stated that its Chair ship of IORA will be used to promote and attain its priorities including the African Union’s 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and Agenda 2063.  National interests will also benefit from the IORA Chair ship as the Association’s seven priority areas align perfectly with South Africa’s own objectives under Operation Phakisa, which aims for the development of an ocean economy.

A key question remains whether South Africa has the capacity, both in financial and human resources, to meet all the stated foreign policy objectives or has South Africa bitten off more than it can chew, especially considering the many domestic challenges that need to be addressed before attempting to address external ones? This then highlights the importance of the consultations on the Foreign Service bill, which is meant to build a professional and competent foreign service that will be able to represent South Africa in the desired manner, pursue national interest as well as translate South Africa’s diplomatic presence into tangible results for both the country and its sub-region.

Although the election of the new president has ushered in what is being called a new dawn, it remains to be seen how President Ramaphosa will utilise these various multilateral leadership roles in addressing domestic challenges. In his State of the Nation Address, the President clearly articulated the importance of improving economic growth by increasing business confidence, wooing investors and expanding trade, which will translate into job creation and poverty reduction and making it clear that these objectives require a professional and dedicated foreign service that will promote and represent Brand South Africa internationally. The President also spoke on the need for an economically independent African Union that has competent institutions that will be able to try gross human rights violations and war crimes. This is important given the recent shielding of leaders accused of violations such as Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and DRC President Joseph Kabila.  If obtained, these objectives will see South Africa being able to use its 2018 foreign policy agenda to advance the national interest within both the African and global contexts.  

Ms Remofiloe Lobakeng holds a BA Hons in International Politics from UNISA and is a research assistant at the Institute for Global Dialogue associated with UNISA. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the IGD

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