Regional conflicts and policy shifts in the post-apartheid era : impact of domestic politics on South Africa's foreign policy.
Despite its rhetoric about prioritising Africa and the need for an African Renaissance, South Africa's leadership is severely constrained by domestic political factors in its ability to engage and lead the continent. To date, the ANC-led government has been criticised for its incoherent foreign policy. Most criticisms have centered on South Africa's failure to engage the SADC region effectively. This research, examines the importance attached to South Africa getting involved in the region and the rationale guiding its involvement. Employing realism as a technique of assessment, the study examines the factors that influenced South Africa's actions or inactions. The ANC (African National Congress) -led government must concern itself with several issues that can muffle efforts by the state to intervene or act in concert with members of the region. Such issues include a historical (apartheid-induced) antipathy toward Africa, a 40 percent unemployment rate amongst its main racial constituents, a very vocal and demagogic opposition, large minorities with little or no interest in developing extensive links with the region, and the ever-present need to contest and win domestic elections. Given this internal context as well as the general desire to lead and effect change within the region and to improve her international prestige (for instance, by securing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council or bids for major sporting events), South Africa will find herself torn between domestic and external imperatives. As such, the ability or capacity of the South African government to act effectively in conflict resolution missions within Africa will be shaped substantially by how well it is able to attend to, and reconcile, those tensions.
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