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The Rainbow Myth: Dreaming of a Post-racial South African Society

Nelson Mandela’s ideals incite admiration and hope for most South Africans, overseas citizens and other international observers. The mission of the SA liberation movements and its icons was to build a non-racial society based on equality and justice. This has been the foundation of the ANC, its political programs and the SA constitution. Nonetheless how were the policies addressing socio-economic inequalities designed and implemented to build a rainbow nation? This paper will trace back the original mission of a rainbow nation and compare them with the present situation. Download here

IGD Newsletter 2018

Download the latest IGD newsletter to discover the latest Publications, Books and articles from the IGD by clicking here.

South Africa’s BRICS Engagement

Dr. Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, opened the event by contextualising the day’s discussion and explained that the dialogue falls under South Africa’s second track diplomacy, whereby academic institutions, think tanks and researchers interact. South Africa pushed to have this interaction institutionalised in 2013 through its first BRICS Presidency. Download report

South Africa’s BRICS Presidency 2018: An Inclusive Path towards Global Development

Dr. Philani Mthembu, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), opened the dialogue by providing a brief review of South Africa’s diplomatic calendar for 2018, which is one of the busiest in the post-1994 era. The BRICS partnership, one of several foreign policy agenda items, has continued to evolve as it enters the beginning of its second decade. Download report

South Africa and the World: 2018

The round table, which focused on South Africa’s 2018 foreign policy agenda during the course of the year, also looked towards possible projections for 2019, and took place on the 22 February 2018 in Pretoria at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). South Africa’s 2018 foreign policy agenda is possibly its busiest since 1994. The country finds itself chairing the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) partnership and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), while it is also involved in the G20 summit. Download report

From MGDs to Sustainable Development Goals

This book is the first in a series that aims to help readers understand the diversity of African academic thinking around the MDGs and their success (or lack thereof); and the transition into the SDGs. The questions this book looks to examine are: How far has the implementation of the aspirations enunciated in the UN Millennium Declaration gone? and Can any measurable progress made towards the implementation of the MDGs be equated to a serious commitment by the world to achieve the now adopted SDGs? Order your copy

About Us

The Institute for Global Dialogue is an independent foreign policy think tank based in Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa. It advances a balanced, relevant and policy-oriented analysis, debate and documentation of South Africa and Africa’s global politics and diplomacy. It strives to promote a broader understanding of the role of foreign policy and diplomacy in the pursuit of national and international development goals.

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South Africa and the World 2018: Retrospectively Anticipating 2019
22 November 2018, 09h00
The Institute for Global Dialogue and Human Sciences Research Council Cordially invite you to a roundtable titled South Africa and the World 2018:... Read more...

Dr Dlamini Zuma’s win does not herald smooth sailing for South African foreign policy

After what seemed like an uphill battle against incumbent African Union (AU) Commission chair Jean Ping of Gabon, former minister for Home Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has secured the confidence of 37 out of 51 states in Africa to become the newest leader of the AU’s executive arm. While her victory is undoubtedly a triumph for the country, and indeed women everywhere, South Africa should not expect plain sailing in the months and years ahead, as this success will only catalyse more scrutiny of its foreign policy from its African neighbours.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has received much criticism for what many believed were over-ambitious tactics in attempting to secure Dlamini-Zuma’s election. After a failed attempt at winning the contest in January – as well as what must have been some incredibly robust negotiation behind the scenes – South African diplomats managed to secure enough votes to ensure Dlamini-Zuma would take up the reins at the AU with a view to revitalising a moribund and floundering organisation. Her experience in the former Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and more recently her time improving the appalling performance of the Department of Home Affairs, meant that Dlamini-Zuma was touted as the candidate to bring about a new era for the AU – one in which the body could perhaps legitimately escape comparisons with its corrupt, ineffective predecessor, the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) or so-called “Dictators’ Club”.

 

The acrimonious nature of the election contest between Dlamini-Zuma and Ping was undeniable. South Africa was seen to be hubristic and insensitive (particularly when the South African delegation celebrated the stalemate at January’s conference), and Ping fired his own missiles in the form of press releases lambasting the South African approach to the contest. At its core, the spiteful tone of the election reflected broader resentment towards South Africa from its non-SADC neighbours; something that has been brewing ever since South Africa started to assert itself diplomatically post-1994. Although much of the media’s attention focused on the stratified support for Dlamini-Zuma and Ping from postcolonial Anglo- and Francophone countries respectively, some of the South African candidate’s largest detractors came in the form of Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya. Added to ECOWAS’s strong showing of support for Ping, it seemed unlikely that Dlamini-Zuma would get the nod from other African nations, particularly after the aforementioned stalemate in January.

 

This explains why this victory is so significant for South Africa. Going against the grain of the ‘unwritten rule’ that only smaller states should seed candidates for the AU Commission chair, South Africa proffered a contender that many believe to be capable of turning the AU around. Despite what DIRCO has described as a ‘victory for South African diplomacy’, this is now where the work truly begins. Indeed, South Africa will have to work hard to repair the cracks of resentment in the AU’s dam wall, lest the entire project of African rejuvenation crumbles.

Of particular importance in the coming years will be South African foreign policy on the continent: if anything, it will face even further scrutiny than before. The spotlight on Dlamini-Zuma will only serve to illuminate every nook and cranny of South African policy abroad, and the country’s more robust competitors in Africa will undoubtedly seek opportunities to cry foul at any presumed instance of Pretoria’s interference in AU affairs. While it seems that the likelihood of Dlamini-Zuma acting as Pretoria’s puppet is virtually nil, perception is everything in the diplomacy game, and South Africa will need to tread even more carefully than before in continental matters.

South Africa should be equally concerned about constructing a foreign policy that does not further alienate the continent. Recent action in the international realm has probably not left the AU with much confidence in South Africa’s political finesse, despite Dlamini-Zuma’s victory. After unceremoniously treading on Nigeria and ECOWAS’s toes in the Côte d’Ivoire election crisis; reneging on its commitment to Resolution 1973 which saw a no-fly zone implemented over Libya; and again recently inflaming tensions with Nigeria over the yellow fever vaccination deportation fiasco, South Africa is already on unsteady ground. It should seek to consolidate and build relations with the countries on the continent as much as possible. The country’s somewhat erratic recent policy decisions have been cause for concern at multilateral fora such as the UN: what seems like a lack of any coherent international agenda has only cultivated suspicion and dismay amongst former allies.

As a result, South Africa should seek to construct an overarching strategic vision for its foreign policy – one that is more practicable than current interpretations of its ‘African agenda’ foreign policy pillar. At present, it appears that the ‘African agenda’ needs to be unpacked, to ensure that South Africa can adequately represent issues of concern to Africa are on the international agenda. Now is the time for South Africa to seriously consider the long-term vision and structure of its foreign policy so that it may not only positively contribute to the revitalisation of the AU, but also repair fractured relationships between African states, to ensure that the continent assumes a mantle of responsibility, accountability and efficacy in world affairs. South Africa now has the opportunity to assume the role and status it has so desperately sought in world affairs. Its subsequent performance will dictate not only the country’s future on the continent, but also the future of Africa as a whole.

Lyndsey Duff is a researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD). She writes in her personal capacity.

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