In Focus is a refereed IGD blog spot providing snip analysis by IGD staff and external analysts on topical developments in Africa and the world. If you want to have your commentary considered, write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Older In Focus articles may be found in the Archives section.
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By Fritz Nganje Tuesday, 25 September 2012 15:28
As the dust settles in Addis Ababa after the fallout from the election of a new head of the African Union (AU) Commission, it is time for foreign policy drivers in South Africa to extract important lessons from the diplomatic showdown and formulate appropriate interventions. One area that begs for serious attention relates to the ingrained tensions on the continent around South Africa’s Africa policy, which seem to be nurtured by divergent diagnoses of Africa’s challenges and the corresponding difficulty by its leaders to articulate a shared vision of how to move the continent forward. As one of Africa’s de facto leaders, South Africa’s attempt to give direction to the continent by articulating and promoting an African Agenda would be better served if a conscious and well-targeted effort is made to complement traditional diplomatic processes with societal-level approaches that encourage constructive and sustained dialogue among critical stakeholders in the continent. This is where academic diplomacy, seen as an official diplomatic strategy that seeks to create understanding about a country or its policies through institutionalised academic cooperation, becomes relevant in addressing misperceptions about South Africa’s posture in Africa.
Contrary to what some observers would want us believe, South African policy makers’ reading of the current challenges confronting Africa, especially as they relate to the continent’s engagement with the outside world, does indeed resonate with the concerns of a substantial constituency in other quarters of the continent. In fact, one can argue that concerns about France’s continued neo-colonial influence in Africa, as well as the new scramble for the continent’s resources involving both established and emerging powers are stronger in other parts of Africa than is the case in South Africa. This is particularly true if we take into account the fact that it is the African people we are referring to and not just their leaders.
By Bonisiwe Felicia Mhlanga Friday, 07 September 2012 12:42
The Zimbabwean democracy has been thrown into uncertainty again, following ZANU-PF’s rejection of the proposed draft constitution released on 19 July 2012. The much anticipated document was drafted by the Select Committee of Parliament on the New Constitution (COPAC) of Zimbabwe, a process that was delayed by three years and cost the taxpayer some US$50 million. The draft, if effective and implemented, will conclude the four year transitional Inclusive Government (IG) and hopefully pave way for smooth elections in 2013.
In brief, the IG, also known as the Government of Unity, was formed in 2008 following the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It is a government shared between the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Thus, the executive includes President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. They had agreed to end violence, share power through a transitional government and accelerate economic restoration .In addition, the parties to the GPA pledged to restore the rule of law, draft a new constitution, pursue land reform and promote nation healing, while hoping that the West will remove sanctions. This brought an end to 38 years of single party rule by the ZANU-PF and gave the MDC factions an opportunity to gain experience in government.
By Siphamandla Zondi Wednesday, 22 August 2012 20:57
The appointment of another African, the former Foreign Minister of Algeria, Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi, as the new UN and Arab League special envoy on Syria comes after Kofi Annan announced his intention not to renew his contract when it expires at the end of August. Ibrahimi’s mission has been greeted with excitement only amongst those in favour of peace and with subtle disdain amongst those dead-set to bring about a regime change by military means.
For this reason, he has an unenviable job and he will most likely quit in exasperation, not because of lack of ability, but because there is no adequate appetite for a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis amongst key UN Security Council members and other powerful states.
Kofi Annan was appointed in February this year as a joint UN-Arab League special envoy to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis when the conflict was already just about a year old. While some including those for whom a military solution was the way Annan’s mission came a little too late in Syria, while others thought the drawn-out military stalemate signified that the situation was actually ripe for a political solution. The appointment had the backing of the most democratically constituted organ of the UN, the 193-member General Assembly, through its resolution on 16 February where it called on the Syrian government and rebels to cease hostilities in order to give a UN-Arab League process a chance to lead them towards lasting peace.
By Kenny Dlamini Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:54
Recently, China made a move to occupy one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea, a decision that has been highly criticised by the United States and some South Asian nations. The decision is viewed as irresponsible and having the potential to exacerbate already existing tension in the South China Sea.
For decades now, diplomatic relations between the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) and China have been clouded by controversy over the maritime rights on the South China Sea. The South China Sea supports one-third of the world’s traffic in the shipping trade. Half of the world’s oil and gas is transported through it. China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines all have overlapping territorial claims over a seabed that has proven oil reserves and natural gas.
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