The emerging foreign policy under president Zuma continuity or change
By Thabang Shaun Dladla
Table of contents page no
2. Definition of concept………………………………………..2
3.1 Foreign policy………………………………………………..3
3.2 National interest…………………………………………….3
3. The Mandela foreign policy ……………………………….3
4. The Mbeki foreign policy……………………………………5
5. The Zuma foreign policy……………………………………7
6. Is it a continuity or change…………………………………8
The central idea at play in international relations has always been that of states interacting with one another in the pursuit of their national interest. Many international relations personnel’s have always argued that foreign affairs starts with domestic affairs, this has proved itself to be true in many case studies in world affairs like that of South Africa Prior and post 1994. Since 1994 the policies of south Africa has been that of restructuring and correcting the injustices of the apartheid governments both domestically and internationally and finding its place in international politics, since the republic of south Africa was isolated from international politics because of the policies they pursued domestically. Prior 1994 the foreign policy of South Africa was acting upon the interests of the white minority laying aside those of the black majority and it was primarily based on the constant search for security. In contrast to that the foreign policies pursued by the post apartheid governments have been that of restructuring domestic issues and transforming South Africa into an internationally recognized global actor.
... States Department of State, the foreign policy approach for South Africa and the larger Africa is Transformational Diplomacy (“US Foreign Policy in Africa for 2007”). The principle being ... expounded in this kind of foreign policy approach ...
This paper seeks to compare the foreign policies of South Africa post apartheid till the end of the President Mbeki’s period and that of the emerging Zuma administration. This is to show that there is continuation from the previous administrations, but then the question arises is the South African foreign policy a stationary or uniform type of policy since the obtainment of democracy? No this may not be the case because the ultimate determinant and fundamental objective for states to conduct foreign policy is for the pursuit of their national interest, so this assignment seeks to clarify the confusion that the Zuma administration foreign policy will change of course it is not the exact equivalent as the other policies but it continues to pursue national interest.
2. Definition of key concept
2.1 Foreign policy: – according to Jones (1970:11) Foreign policy is the collection of measures by no means essentially coherent, utilized by Governments or decision makers of a state to meet the interests best suited to their state, this is to say foreign policy is not a perfect course of action it does not exist in a plane different from the rest of human activities. “It is never free from muddle, from mistaken information, from the clash of perspective, from human infirmity in all its social guises. But it is a specific area of political activity with some kinds of difficulties, but it is not a cut off from other areas and it does not exist in some kind of special medium”, Jones (1970:11).
2.2 national interests: – this includes self preservation, independence, territorial integrity, military security, economic wellbeing and this is the basic determinant of states to engage in foreign relations, Mingst (2008:63).
3. The Mandela foreign policy
According to Landsberg (2007:251) before the 1994 democratic elections the African National Congress (ANC) had already started to make promises of restructuring the foreign policy of the Republic of South Africa, strengthening regional cooperation as well as continental integration as it had already had special affiliations with countries which supported it in the anti apartheid movement as well as those that were affected by that regime of racial discrimination. As soon as the ANC took its place in power after winning the elections with a two thirds majority they started their duty and felt it worthwhile to restructure the foreign policies of their predecessors, so they chose a “highly moralistic and principles driven foreign policy” which was however hard to implement because it had to let go of all security considerations. The key actor in South Africa’s foreign policy was the department responsible for international relations and cooperation which was the department of foreign affairs, it together with government drafted guiding principles for behavior of foreign relations Landsberg further quotes the minister of foreign affairs when he said that the basic tenets of foreign policy of south Africa are principles which determine the kind of nation and world they envisaged, Landsberg (2007:252).
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Furthermore the foreign policy of the Mandela administrations was highly driven by a highly moralistic figure a president of the first democratic South Africa “Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela” who was not only a president but a world icon who reinstated hope to the entire world, the Mandela driven foreign policy attracted investors and won home status and world acknowledgment. Also the diplomacy of the 1994-1999 put a great emphasis on three important aspects namely human rights, democratization and respects for law especially the international law; it also played an important role in bridge building between the global north and the immediate south, Landsberg(2004-159).
Put to practice the foreign policy of the Mandela administration was too idealistic contrasted to power politics at play in the diplomatic arena. There are several examples to prove this like the Nigerian crisis 1995 where South Africa was in favor of the political prisoner (Abiola) who was then to be a leader and was also in favor of the nine Ogoni leaders not to be executed, but Abacha went the other side with this and continued with the executions. The South African republic felt betrayed by these means and tried to impose sanctions to the Nigerian government but failed because of the pulling back of western powers and other African states this resulted to South Africa adopting the “quiet diplomacy style” of doing things. Another examples includes the two Chinas policy because of the dispute these states the Peoples Republic of china and Taiwan had after Taiwan’s request to be independent from China, but then majority of the international community recognized the PRC while the remaining minority recognized Taiwan SA included so the Mandela driven policy recognized both actors hence it is called the two Chinas policy, Landsberg (2007:252-253).
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Furthermore inside the ANC there was a conflicting interest as there were different personnel’s “such as those from exile, those who remained in SA, Africanists, Charterists, communists, workerists and others”, Landsberg (2010:104).
Also the arms sales where in conflict with the pursued ethics driven foreign policy as there then governing government said before being elected that” their future foreign policy cannot be determined by shadowy merchants of death in foreign countries”, Landsberg (2010:111).
4. The Mbeki foreign policy
After serving the nation with pride President Mandela felt it worthwhile that he hands over power to MR Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki who had served as deputy in his administration and who has been serving the ANC prior 1994 as a person reliable for international relations and cooperation. Landsberg (2004:160) describes Mr. Mbeki as a “pan-African who often combines vision with public management and putting in place institutions and mechanisms needed for the realization of his vision”. Landsberg (2004:160) further defines Mbeki as a practical person whom principle came second for achievement of a long term strategic goal, contrasted to Mandela Mbeki was upright about race and fought to put Africa as hegemony in world affairs. Moreover the ANC led government inherited a divided nation and divided economies “one nation of the haves and those of the have not’s”, Landsberg (2010:123).
these were some of other issues that the Mbeki led administration had to address carefully because the previous administration laid a foundation of cutting ties with the past and moving on to a rainbow nation south Africa with the ethics driven foreign policy, which this is some of the critical challenges faced by the Mbeki government. However this administration somehow succeeded in addressing the issues at hand of reuniting the nation and economic reform this can be seen through the socioeconomic policies they pursued the “growth employment and redistribution” (gear) and accelerated and “shared growth initiative for south Africa” (asgisa) following the program of their antecedents the “reconstruction and development program” (RDP) and Black economic empowerment (BEE) to empower the previously disadvantaged, all of these policies were meant to redress the issues at play in the domestic arena, Hirsch(2005:104).
... U. S. foreign policy. Works Cited Grimmett, Richard F. Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress. Foreign Affairs and National ... provisions of law. Occasionally, the President undertakes a sudden foreign policy action before Congress is fully informed about ... of agreement would be acceptable. The President also establishes US foreign policy through unilateral statements or joint statements ...
However South Africa continued its role of bringing back together Africa as outlined in the department of foreign affairs strategic plan that “they will continue to pursue national interest and pursuing the SADC interest together with Africa, DFA (2005:3).
with their steward, who was prominent in African affairs and brought by policies that were to address issues such as poverty reduction, debt relief, racism and underdevelopment and Africa’s identity in international politics with the most famous idealistic concept of “African renaissance” which made him one of the major authors and lucid interpreter of the “new partnership for Africa’s development”(NEPAD) which gave birth to the “African peer review mechanism” (APRM) which its fundamental objective was democratization of African States, and all of this was led by the Mbeki administration. Furthermore President Mbeki was seen as the “foremost African peacemaker and multilateralist, a founding father and first chairman of the new African Union” which replaced the antiquated Body of African Unity, “a main player and outgoing chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, Africa’s strongest voice in the globalization debate between the rich North and the poor South, and the super-diplomat who has succeeded in placing Africa high on the global agenda”, Oliver (2003:1).
The Term Paper on Foreign Policy Analysis : Compare and Contrast Nigeria’s Relationship with the U.S.A.
... : University Press. Aluko, O, (ed) (1977). The foreign policy of African states. London: Hodder and Stughton. Maduagwu O.M., and Mohammed ... particular, the nations of Africa and particularly Nigeria are seen to benefit from America’s idealistic foreign Agenda. (Aka, 2005). ... and security collaboration between the two countries and in Africa generally, can only increase, given the threat of terrorism ...
Furthermore the Mbeki administration was elected new chair of the G77 adding China, which is a partnership of 77 developing countries present in the United Nations, this G77 was established in 1964 comprising 77 states in in the 132 present at the united nations, SA began its position as chair in 2006 January and put to emphasis south south cooperation’s making strong economic and technical affiliations which will challenge the north who were in position of domination, Landsberg (2010:172).
Moreover the General assembly of the UN elected South Africa into the temporary security council membership from 1st of January 2007 to 31st December 2008 this showed that South Africa’s young and prominent democracy was legitimate and trusted as it gained majority vote when elected to the position, Landsberg (2010:183).
The Mbeki administration foreign policies addressed many of the subject matters that were inherited from the apartheid governments, however president Mbeki did not finish his second term in office resulting from being outvoted in the polokwane conference which took place December 2007 and resulted to him handing his resignation from being head of state September 2008. This led to Mr Kgalema Motlante who was elected deputy president of the ANC in the Polokwane to take over as acting president immediately until the new government was elected into power in the third democratic elections which took place March 2009. President Motlante’s duty was to continue where president Mbeki left off and finish up his duty in office in time for the new government to take over.
5. The Zuma foreign policy
The Zuma led administration began its term in office officially on April 2009, with the Mbeki administration casting a very immense shadow, the Zuma administration was left to fill very big boots left by president Mbeki in international cooperation and foreign policy decision making. However the ANC has always been a powerful engine in the drive for democracy and continued to be like that after the break away of the president Mbeki’s allies and loyals to formation of the so called “congress of the people” Cope, which was to combat the ANC led government. However the party continued as always and continued to grow stronger as President Zuma renamed other departments and added some few, this was done to speed up economic and security developments examples of this includes:- the establishment of the NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISION in the presidency, the newly formed “Department of economic development” which is responsible for the country’s economic policy, also the renaming of the ministry of foreign affairs to international relations and cooperation and others, this act by the president is said to push forward the country’s development and also achieve the Mandela task of rebuilding the nation and the visions of a “truly non racist, non-sexist and united in its diversity south Africa, Landsberg (2010:197).
... diamond mining. President Khama then turned his personal attention to foreign policy, seeking out allies such as President Kaunda of Zambia ... sell-out to its all-powerful white neighbours, South Africa (including South-West Africa) and Southern Rhodesia. Botswana was believed to ... that Britain must distance itself from institutionalized racism in South Africa, and decided to allow Seretse and Ruth home ...
However the strategic plans of the ministry of international relations and cooperation still continue from that of the Mbeki administration the visions of “pursuing the interests of the nation and Africa together with SADC”, DIRCO (2009:3).
However the Zuma administration foreign policy is not that different with the Mbeki’s as it continues with the Quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe and continuing its role in Africa as a peacekeeper, this is visible through the recent events of democratization in the Arab world where south Africa led a group of other African states on behalf of the AFRICAN UNION to resolve the Crisis in Libya where president Muammer Gaddafi refuses to step down in his position of leadership, in an interview with the SABC president Zuma confirmed that president Gaddafi had agreed to the deal placed by the African leaders and also accused the US and other western powers of not taking Africa serious and not trusting it in resolving its problems, this follows the killing of Gaddafi’s eldest son and children by the NATO forces. In addition the Zuma led government will see South Africa as a most prominent actor in the world stage after joining a bloc of trade relations with powerful countries namely the BRIC which the acronym of the first letters of each member country the Brazil Russia India China now known as the BRICS with South Africa included. It is said that “The transfer of technologies in agriculture and manufacturing could benefit South Africa as it tries to move along a path of sustained growth in employment” also “The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says it will seek direct foreign investment in value-added industries. The DTI sees collaboration in research as one key area that could be strengthened by the membership newly gained from the BRIC community” (//www.uj.ac.za/EN/Newsroom/News/Pages/SouthAfricamakingitsdebutatBRICSsummit.aspx ) this could realize the dreams envisaged by both antecedent presidents of the republic to see South Africa as hegemon in world affairs.
6. Is it a continuity or change?
From the above presented information about the foreign policy of South Africa post 1994 it is visible that there is continuation from each transition, apartheid South Africa left South Africa with a legacy of divided community or nation as well as a divided economy which were issues of address by the democratic governments who followed. The Mandela driven foreign policy laid a foundation with their ethics driven foreign policy aimed at pursuing national interest and correcting the injustices of apartheid both domestically and internationally, with their domestic policies of unifying the nation since it was divided over apartheid. The Mbeki administration foreign policy continued from the Mandela administration because of putting the interests of Africa, SADC and the nation in the forefront, but the Mbeki led foreign policy put more focus on Africa with the African renaissance concept of unifying Africans and putting Africa as hegemony in world affairs with the formation of the NEPAD and the APRM, being elected chair of the G77 and getting temporary membership in the UN security council getting the majority vote in this election, one cannot help it but say that the Mbeki administration was successful in achieving the national interest of south Africa, also with the domestic policies of correcting the injustices of apartheid namely the BEE, the GEAR following from RDP, ASGISA and others.
However the Zuma administration foreign policy has not drifted from those of their antecedents, the foreign policy continues pursue national interest strengthening regional cooperation as well as African cooperation, also with the new membership in BRIC making it BRICS this could be part of the vision of seeing South Africa and Africa as Hegemon in world affairs and as a prominent actor in African politics with the recent events of the African union sending its delegates in a stunt of peacekeeping in Libya which was led by south Africa, president Zuma was also heard saying Mbeki’s words saying “the US and other western powers disregard Africa in solving its matters”. Although leaders and their personalities play an important role in foreign policy decision making, the change of leadership in South Africa’s foreign policy decision making saw a small change but continued to pursue national interest and putting Africa as one of their major role in foreign policy.
This essay has discussed the foreign policy of South Africa post 1994 from the Mandela period till the end of the Mbeki period contrasted to that of the Zuma administration, this was done to show that though there is leadership change but the foreign policy shows that there is continuity in terms of national interest. The post-apartheid governments have done a great job in uniting the nation that was divided in the apartheid regime also the systems socio economic that were in favor of the minority. Furthermore this essay has shown the centrality of Africa in their foreign policies which then leads us to the conclusion that the Zuma foreign is continuing from that of its antecedents and continues to pursue national interest.
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