Share this page December 2013


Dear Readers

The time has come to say goodbye.

Over the past two years, the evolution of the SAFPI programme and its website has come to occupy a significant space in South Africa's foreign policy landscape, not to mention a special place in our own hearts.

The inception of the programme illustrated that foreign policy is both an extension of, and influenced by, the interplay of the domestic and external environment. And this is a notable feature that has defined SAFPI's identity. While the journey of the SAFPI programme has not been without its challenges, it has, nevertheless, demonstrated how important it is to have a programme that is nurtured domestically. Not only does this enhance an understanding of the various pulse-checks and trajectories, strategic in supporting policy research and advocacy, it also advances the credibility of a platform that enables knowledge sharing, peer-learning, stimulation of debate and critical discussion of South Africa's foreign policy.

This has been the vision of the SAFPI programme: to continuously engage in promoting awareness of South Africa's foreign policy behaviour in a changing global architecture, through active research and development of a powerful knowledge hub.

Where critics may have thought that the programme did not actively and explicitly pursue a critical stance about the moral code of conduct of South Africa's foreign policy, SAFPI did so by supporting empirical research on International Criminal Justice, through the work of the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), or, for that matter, Pretoria's One China policy through the work of the Centre for Chinese Studies. Grants to the Institute for Global Dialogue, the Centre for Conflict Resolution, the South African Institute of International Relations and the Department of Political Science (University of Pretoria) allowed these organisations to host active policy debates.

Where critics felt that South Africa was ambiguous about its place in Africa and less than truthful over its intentions, SAFPI hosted roundtables on the demise of the SADC Tribunal, with the former Judge President of the Tribunal, as well as an honest appraisal of Pretoria's role in the G20. They offered a platform for constructive engagement, helping shape informed analysis and advocacy on South Africa's foreign policy identity.

In recognizing the achievements of the SAFPI programme, we would like to acknowledge that it would not have been possible if it was not for the foresight of the former Executive Director of the OSF-SA, Ms Zohra Dawood. Zohra's determination in creating SAFPI has been matched by the outreach that SAFPI has achieved both domestically and globally (users from South Africa's IBSA partner countries, India and Brazil, rank highly each month on our usage statistics). The impact of the programme testifies to the vision that Zohra had when she created the programme. We are both deeply grateful to you.

To the friends of SAFPI, in South Africa and further afield, we cannot thank you enough for your support and for accommodating requests to contribute articles and commentaries. Your contributions have made the information and debates on the SAFPI website of the highest quality. To the many grantees of the SAFPI programme, the research that you have undertaken over the years has made it possible for SAFPI to continue to strengthen the foreign policy landscape.

To our colleagues at the OSF-SA, especially Ms Helene van der Watt (grants administrator), Debbie Bartus, Zaid Israel and Monica Zifo, without your administrative and organisational support, the SAFPI programme would not have been able to function like it has done with efficiency. We are forever grateful to you.

To the SAFPI website Internet Service Provider (ISP), Octoplus, especially Diederick, Elsa, Sue and PW, while not forgetting Carlos, your patience with our requests, implementing them timeously, contributed to the success of the SAFPI website. Our sincere gratitude.

Finally, SAFPI would not have been able to make its mark without our followers, our readers and the growing group of twitter followers, who RT'd us on an almost daily basis. The loyalty and confidence that you have shown SAFPI over the past two years has been deeply appreciated, more so when you told your own circles of the virtues of SAFPI.

In saying farewell, this last edition for 2013 is a special issue of research reports and projects that SAFPI supported over the past 18 months. The edition is dedicated to the work that the programme has supported and hopefully will continue to do so, in whatever form its new identity will be, including that of the future of the SAFPI website.

Best wishes

Sanusha Naidu, Richard Humphries

Funded projects for 2013

But what do 'ordinary' South Africans think? Public opinion survey on foreign policy
Department of Political Science, University of Stellenbosch

The public opinion survey examines and assesses the perceptions and views of the South African public on issues of foreign policy.

South Africa's role in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2012
Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR)

The project assesses South Africa's two year non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

South African relations with China and Taiwan: Economic realism and the 'One China' doctrine
Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS)

The study critically assesses South Africa's economic relations with the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China within the foreign policy doctrine of the 'One China Policy'. The project intends to evaluate the extent to which South Africa's adherence to the One China Policy (a conditionality in Beijing's bilateral engagements) has impacted on political and economic relations with Taiwan in the context of economic diplomacy.

South African foreign policy and South-South co-operation: Opportunities and challenges
Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD)

The project assesses the impact of South-South cooperation on South Africa's foreign policy identity and behaviour. It seeks to evaluate the changing nature of South-South cooperation and its corresponding influence on South Africa's foreign policy trajectories.

New SAFPI policy briefs

Siphamandla Zondi: Global Mandela: A complexity

With the world's leaders having come to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial and funeral, and with the eyes of the peoples of the world focused on us this last week, it is time to reflect on the meaning of Nelson Mandela as a world statesman.

The common narrative of a nice Mandela who is everything to everyone with only one single motif to his life story and agenda - forgiveness and reconciliation - is replicated in the dominant narrative on foreign policy during the Mandela era. The message is that the Mandea era was conciliatory, rather than contradictory, and that it placed human rights, rather than ideology, at the centre, and so forth.

The narrative castigates what is assumed to be a uniquely Mbeki posture - ideologically incongruent with western imperial designs - by projecting Mandela as a "good native".

[But] In this sense, the fundamentals of Mandela's foreign policy have not changed. This is because Mandela did not pursue a foreign policy of his own, but rather one which was shaped by the thinking of the ANC and refined by the government he led. To the extent that it has not fundamentally changed, but that each leader after him has simply brought their personality into it, is evidence of a continuity of purpose and paradigm.

Mandela's persona as a global figure and foreign policy actor should not be over-simplified. He was not just an idealist committed to values and norms of a better world, but he was more. He was not just a realist that was aware of power dynamics that shape the world system, but he was more. He did not just understand the importance of identity and ideas in shaping international relations, but considered many other factors in foreign policy decision-making also important. Mandela was progressive, committed to values of fairness, justice, balanced and deliberation, believing fully in the humanist view of life. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.

Janis van der Westhuizen and Karen Smith: South Africa's role in the world: A public opinion survey

Over the last fifteen years, South African foreign policy has been subject to tumultuous twists and turns, as the immediate post-1994 'honeymoon period' with its remarkable enunciation of a human rights centred foreign policy increasingly gave way to processes reflecting greater complexity. South Africa emerged as a leading spokesperson for the global South and, at the same time, increasingly had to assert its African identity. These factors, as well as the usual rough-and-tumble of realpolitik in daily diplomacy, slowly eroded the premium placed on human rights under the vanguard of the Mandela presidency.

In short, South African policymakers are often hard pressed and face trenchant critiques for failing to strike a balance between material demands and normative constraints. These material demands usually entail dealing with divergent constituencies clamouring for domestic expectations of redistribution on the one hand and market-led demands on the other; whilst normative constraints involve having to seek a compromise between cosmopolitanism and pan-Africanism on the other.

As a result, multiple contradictions clutter the policymaking domain: a widely pronounced commitment to an 'African Agenda' amongst the political elite, set against severe levels of xenophobia amongst the poor, in part because South Africa has had to deal with amongst the largest influx of refugees in the world; increasing trade and economic ties with China, including Chinese sponsorship of South African membership of BRICS, set against massive Chinese imports which have, for example, decimated the local textile industry; and enunciating a commitment towards 'democratizing' international institutions, yet having to tolerate one of the world's last absolute monarchy's in its own backyard.

Given these contradictions, policy analysts and newspaper columnists have played a crucial role in shaping the discourse about what our foreign policy should be about.

What motivated this research project was the remarkable absence of scholarly analyses about 'the attentive public's' attitudes to key issues in our foreign policy. The only other comprehensive study of a representative sample of the South African population was conducted 15 years ago by Philip Nel. We contend that since then, considerable shifts in attitudes are likely to have occurred, making another survey both necessary and very compelling. The survey - which was not designed to test the public's knowledge of international affairs but rather their attitudes, beliefs and values about our foreign policy - reveals considerable convergence across various societal divides in relation to major issues.

Osita Agbu, Emeka Okereke, Sharkdam Wapmuk and Bashiru Adeniyi: The foreign policy environment in Nigeria and implications for Nigeria-South Africa relations: Baseline study

It is safe to assume that the character of Nigeria's foreign policy, from the early 1960s, logically shaped her firm stance against racism and apartheid in South Africa. To date, Nigeria has held firm to her 'Africa-centered' foreign policy, even when vilified and accused of playing 'Father Christmas' around the continent. This long-standing principle has seen her expend time and resources on issues affecting Africa and blacks in the Diaspora: the issues are too numerous to mention, whether in respect of financial or humanitarian assistance, as well as peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

Nigeria's interest in the welfare of South Africans, whether under apartheid or at the present, is therefore part and parcel of her world view of being specially endowed as the country with the largest population of Black people in the world and that possesses the resources to help uplift Africa and Black peoples all over the world. Nigeria is quite unapologetic about this world view. South Africa should understand the role of Nigeria from this perspective and not from one which sees Nigeria as necessarily in competition with her. Indeed, it is germane to observe that it is South Africa that may be in competition with Nigeria. By this we do not necessarily mean only in terms of economic fundamentals, but in all ramifications. Indeed, it is possible that once South African leaders and citizens understand this, competition and rivalry between both countries will lessen or become non-existent.

Again, were South Africa not only to understand the Nigerian world view and role in Africa, but engaged Nigeria as a partner, and not a rival, as a point of official policy, then it is almost certain that not only South Africa and Nigeria would benefit immensely from this partnership, but the whole of Africa. History, mutual knowledge of each other, and necessity should be enough to spur South Africa and Nigeria towards a 'special relationship' rather than a 'special rivalry'.

Latest news

South African statement to Assembly of States Parties of the ICC
John Jeffrey (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development)

The Hague: It is because of this inter-related relationship between peace and justice in the new value-laden system of international law and our own history, that we see no contradiction between South Africa's continued support of the ICC as a judicial body to dispense justice, on the one hand, and the attainment of peace and stability in Kenya through political means, including the process provided for in Article 16 of the Statute, on the other hand.

South Africa condemns alleged coup attempt in South Sudan
Department of International Relations and Cooperation

Pretoria: The South African Government would like to express its condemnation of the alleged attempted coup in South Sudan on 15 December 2013. The South African Government learnt with shock and dismay of the alleged attempt, by disgruntled soldiers, to overthrow by violent means the Government of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. South Africa firmly believes that respect for democracy and human rights are essential to the governance of all African countries and that all violent means to overthrow legitimate governments must be rejected, in line with decisions adopted by the African Union and the United Nations.

More can be done to enhance Nigeria relations
Dianna Games (BusinessDay)

Lagos: I dined with a Nigerian elder, who told the story of how Nelson Mandela had lived in his Lagos home for several weeks in 1962 during a seven-month journey around Africa to raise support for the African National Congress's armed struggle. Mbazulike Amaechi, an official in Nigeria's first post-independence government, said he was asked by the leader at the time, Nnamdi Azikiwe, to host Mandela during his visit to Nigeria in May 1962. When Mandela visited Nigeria again in 1990 to acknowledge Nigeria's support in ending apartheid, he personally sought out Amaechi and Azikiwe to thank them.

Nigeria's economy largest in Africa as rebasing boosts GDP to $405bn
Patrick Atuanya (BusinessDay)

Lagos: In about three weeks from now, when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) releases the rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it will show that Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as Africa's largest economy, which will have great economic and geopolitical implications. "We are revising up our estimate of Nigeria's GDP by 53 percent. The NBS has nearly completed its work, and our new estimate is that a 45 percent to 60 percent uplift is likely, and we are taking 53 percent as the mid-point figure. We expect the data in January," said Renaissance Capital analysts led by Charles Robertson, its global chief economist and head of macro strategy, in a research report released.

New UN 'Rights up Front' strategy seeks to prevent genocide, human rights abuses
UN News Centre

New York: Still haunted by its failure to forestall genocide in Rwanda and Srebrenica nearly 20 years ago and confronted by ongoing bloodshed in Syria and the Central African Republic, the United Nations is revamping its preventive strategies under a new initiative called 'Rights up Front.' "The need for early action, and the crucial role of responding early to human rights violations, is at the heart of the 'Rights up Front' initiative," Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told an informal session of the General Assembly as he presented a six-point action plan.

The right of peoples for resistance: case of the Sahrawi people
Sahara Press Service

Algiers: The participants to the 4th International Conference on "Peoples' right to resistance: case of the Sahrawi people," called on the UN to "expedite" the settlement of Western Sahara conflict and "expand" MINURSO prerogatives to monitoring human rights in the occupied territories. The full text of the Final Declaration of the 4th International Conference of Algiers "The Right of the Peoples for Resistance: case of Sahrawi People" Algiers, 14 and 15 December 2013:

African Group statement on UNSC reform
Amadu Koroma (Cocorioko)

New York: Africa's position on Security Council reform is well known. Being the only continent not represented in the permanent category and at the same time under-represented in the non-permanent category of the Council, we continue to demand the redress of this historical injustice that we continue to suffer. Given the changing international landscape, we believe that the obsolete composition and the absence of adequate representation of an entire continent is a deficiency that risks compromising the legitimacy of the Council's decisions. In this vein, we call for an expansion in the permanent and non-permanent categories of the Security Council as well as the granting to the new members of all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership including the right of veto, if it continues to exist.

CAR: UN experts urge parties to 'pull back from the brink' of all-out war
UN News Centre

New York: A group of independent United Nations human rights experts urged all parties in the Central African Republic, where armed clashes have escalated in recent weeks leading to deaths and population displacement, to step back from the brink of all-out sectarian conflict. "The current shocking violence in the Central African Republic threatens to descend into a full-scale sectarian conflict between Christian and Muslim communities, but it can and must be halted now," the experts said, while expressing grave concern over the escalating violence in the country and the rapidly deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.

Chad looms large over Central Africa crisis

Bangui: Since the Central African Republic descended into crisis a year ago, Chad has been front and centre, described in turn - and sometimes all at once - as coup instigator, victim and peacekeeper. "Ubiquitous but unclear," was how one seasoned observer in Bangui described Chad's presence in the impoverished country where sectarian violence has left 600 dead in a week. A Western diplomat described Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno as the perennial kingmaker of Central African politics. The presidency has numerous Chadian advisers, leading to a common perception that the Central African Republic is a Chadian province and its president little more than "Deby's administrator".

Syria, CAR top UN's challenges for 2014
Thalif Deen (Inter Press Service)

New York: As the ongoing crises in some of the world's hot spots - including Syria, the Central African Republic, Mali, Libya, Palestine and Darfur, Sudan - continue unabated, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon singled out some of the biggest challenges facing the international community in 2014. At his traditional year-end press conference, Ban said 2013 was the year in which the Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year of relentless killings, has "deteriorated beyond all imagination". "The people of Syria cannot afford another year, another month, even another day of brutality and destruction," he added. And 2013, he noted, was also the year in which the Central African Republic "descended into chaos".

Making sense of the DRC declarations on M23

Kampala: The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the former rebel group known as the M23 Movement signed declarations on 12 December formalizing agreements to end hostilities in eastern DRC. The declarations, together with a Final Communique on the Kampala Dialogue, were released by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the Southern African Development Community - which together sponsored almost a year of fitful peace talks in the Ugandan capital.

Tanzania-India trade could more than double by 2016
Tanzania Daily News

Dar es Salaam: Trade between Tanzania and India could more than double by 2016, according to the Executive Director of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture, Mr Daniel Mchemba. He, however, said that it should not be viewed in terms of balance of payment on how trade from Tanzania and Indian would further grow or double. He said Tanzania has been India's trade partner for some time especially in agricultural products that come from ordinary farmers. CII said Indian business people are interested in Africa in general and particularly in countries like Tanzania whose economies are growing fast.

Turkey attends maiden AfDB board meeting
Muthoki Mumo (Daily Nation)

Nairobi: On December 3, Turkey participated in its maiden African Development Bank board meeting, a symbolic step of the country's increased focus on the continent. Turkey's application to officially join the AfDB was approved in 2008 and the country has since been meeting membership requirements. The country will now have a say in the disbursement of AfDB's billions to African countries for development. "It is especially timely to join AfDB as Turkey enters a new phase of deepening its engagement with Africa," said Mr Hau Sing Tse, an executive director who represents Canada, China, Korea, Kuwait and Turkey on the bank's board.

South-South trade continues to increase, UNCTAD data reveals

Geneva: World merchandise exports have more than tripled over the last two decades and reached US$18.3 billion (in current prices) in 2012, with a quarter of that trade comprising exports among developing countries - so-called South-South trade - which reached a record $4.7bn, according to the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2013. Total developing economies' exports now account for 45% of the world total, with half of the increase in global exports between 1995 and 2012 accounted for by developing countries. The share of South-South trade in total world exports has doubled over the last 20 years, to over 25%. Fuels and manufactured goods now account for roughly 25% and 58% of South-South trade, respectively.

PTA to boost trade ties among D-8 countries
The Nation

Islamabad: Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has called upon D-8 countries to make headway to finalize Preferential Trade Agreement among the member countries. Addressing the D-8 meeting of foreign ministers in Islamabad‚ he said this agreement will help boost economic and trade ties among the member countries. He noted that greater interaction between the private sector of the member countries and political will can help achieve the intra D-8 trade target of five hundred billion dollars by the year 2018.

China outlines 2014 diplomatic priorities
Ling Yuhuan (Global Times)

Beijing: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi outlined China's diplomatic priorities for 2014, including enhanced ties with big powers and economic diplomacy. "China will further build a framework for its relationships and deepen strategic mutual trust and integration of interests with big powers, which should feature positive interactions and healthy development," Wang said at a forum on China's diplomacy in 2013. Wang said the Sino-Russian relationship has been upgraded to a new phase and the Sino-US relationship has entered an era of building a new type of relationship between big countries.

NGOs balancing out government support
He Dan (China Daily)

Beijing: China's NGOs are extending a helping hand to poor countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, a move observers see as an effective complement to government-dominated development assistance overseas. He Daofeng, executive president of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, said his organization drew its internationalization road map in 2007 after realizing that China is shifting from recipient to donor country in the wake of its rapid economic growth in the past three decades.

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SAFPI contacts: Sanusha Naidu (Senior Researcher), Richard Humphries
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The South African Foreign Policy Initiative (SAFPI) a programme of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA).