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A comparative analysis of South Africa's foreign policy on the Central African Republic and Nigeria since 1994.

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Since ridding itself of apartheid in 1994, South Arica (SA) has been portrayed as an important regional power in Africa, as opposed to being dubbed a pariah state prior to 1994. Importantly, South Africa is increasingly being seen as a significant global player in the debates about reforming the global governance architecture to create a fairer international order. As the global balance of power changes, new and old powers are investing more in terms of cultivating new and deeper relationships. During the first two decades of democracy, South Africa positioned itself internationally through bilateral and multilateral engagements. However, the policy contents and realities of the foreign policies of South Africa, Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) have not been systematically and adequately studied. The aim of the study was to carry out a comparative study on South Africa’s foreign policy towards CAR and Nigeria. The objectives of the study were to investigate the nature of South Africa’s foreign policy towards Nigeria and CAR and the factors which determined the country’s foreign policy agenda. The use of two international relations theories, i.e. realism and neo-functionalism assisted in understanding the complex foreign policy issues. The study used a mixed-methods approach where five key informant interviews were conducted and one hundred and fifty survey questionnaires were distributed to the respondents. The study found that South Africa has been visible in its foreign policy footprints by being involved in the African peace mediation efforts. The increasing importance of soft power in the global politics is recognised both in the literature and among scholars and practitioners of international relations. Although South Africa faces a number of challenges in constructing its new democratic institutions, it has emerged as one of the most important countries which has imbedded the ‘Ubuntu’ philosophy in its foreign policy posture. The idea of Africanization has become entrenched in South Africa’s identity which has over-stretched the state that is striving to meet the idealistic demands placed upon its fragile democracy. The study revealed South Africa’s policy influence on the global policy and policy innovation. Moreover, it concluded that the presence of South Africa in Nigeria has resulted in increased trade and restored peace in CAR, but also created a number of opportunities in both CAR and Nigeria. Furthermore, the study established the strategic relevance of Nigeria and Central African Republic to South Africa. This has contributed to a broader understanding of the factors that shape South Africa’s foreign policy agenda. However, further research should be conducted on the role of South Africa’s foreign policy in enhancing continental integration.


Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2018.