Ulandseminaret: South Africa – a benevolent hegemon?

South Africa is arguably Africa’s leading power. Which interests does the country have towards its African neighbors?

Organizers: The Norwegian Council for Africa (Fellesrådet for Afrika) and SAIH (Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund)

Many people would claim that South Africa is not part of the «typical» Africa. This claim holds some truth: Among the 50 largest business companies in Africa, only 12 are non-South African. South Africa’s economy is a power house on the continent, but its companies have also been criticized for aggressively taking over local industries in other African countries.

South Africa’s has a modern defense and through active participation in peace-keeping operations on the continent the country has secured its position as a regional power. South Africa is also Africa’s most industrious peace broker. However, the country’s role in brokering a deal in the Congo-DRC conflict has been overshadowed by the appeasement of Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe. This has led many to criticize Thabo Mbeki’s «silent diplomacy» approach for being too silent on uncomfortable foreign policy dilemmas for the ANC.

As South Africa’s economic, diplomatic and political power in Africa are consolidated many in – and outside South Africa – are raising questions on its motives as a regional power: Which interests does South Africa have towards other African countries? Does South Africa’s history imply that the country is more benevolent than other hegemons? With which mandate does South Africa represent the whole continent in its dealings with the rest of the world in the UN, WTO and other international bodies? How will domestic factors shape South Africa’s foreign policies?

Nosizwe Lise Baqwa – Leader of the African Student Union
Cedric de Koning – South African researcher at NUPI (Training for Peace)
Ismail Coovadia, South African Ambassador to Norway and Iceland
Chair: Anita Haslie, board member (Norwegian Council for Africa) and researcher at NUPI