Africa needs zuma (to have a coherent foreign policy)

This week the Economist rightly called out South African president Jacob Zuma on his country’s lack of a coherent foreign policy. South Africa was reborn in 1994 with the moral authority and international goodwill to be Africa’s shining light in the world. Instead, under Mbeki and now Zuma, the country has squandered all that away.

Mbeki did it with his intransigence against reason on the issue of HIV/AIDS and support of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Mr. Zuma is doing the same with his support for Mugabe and equivocal pronouncements against other murderous tyrants on the Continent. Since his election he has not spoken strongly against any injustices or electoral fraud on the Continent; this task has been left to Ian Khama, president of tiny but relatively prosperous Botswana.

Sub-Saharan Africa is desperately in need of a regional hegemon to help it chart a coherent path in global politics. Latin America has Brazil. South Asia has India. East Asia has China. Even Europe has Germany. In Africa, Nigeria (pop. 150+m), South Africa (~40m, biggest economy), Ethiopia (85m) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (~70m) – all potential regional leaders – have woefully underperformed.

Nigeria is Nigeria. Ethiopia is dirt poor and needs to clean its own mess, Somalia’s and Eritrea’s, before it can venture further afield. The DRC is struggling to keep itself afloat. South Africa, by far, has the capacity and the requisite soft power to take up the job of regional guiding light. The country is slated to become a BRIC country soon, making the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

It is a shame that Mr. Zuma has chosen to abdicate his role as the Continental leader. He alone, among the members of the Continent’s club of kleptocratic autocrats (a.k.a AU), has the clout to stand up to the evils we continue to see in Cote d’Ivoire, Darfur, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

8 thoughts on “Africa needs zuma (to have a coherent foreign policy)

  1. The best thing Ethiopia could do to “fix” Somalia is to stay out of it. However, while this would be great for Somalia, it might not be great for Ethiopia.


  2. Your ignorance is shocking. Are you African cause I might know the source of it. I agree that Zuma is not consistent but you need more facts before you write these silly articles. Firstly, Botswana is not a ‘tiny country’ and pre school geography can help. Population wise, it has not much but it is a lie that it is rich. Though it has the strongest currency, it is one of the least industrialized nation in SADC, it does not produce anything. It is living dangerously with its over reliance on diamond. Its population is unimaginably poor and idle minded. Its economy is being run by Zimbabweans search better renumerations. The same with SA.
    Secondly how shallow to claim that Mugabe is a dictator and a murderer. You are free and welcome to visit my Zimbabwe. Everyone who has visited Zimbabwe, unless with prejudged conclusions will never trust Western sponsored media. Zimbabwe is one of the few safe and peaceful nation in Africa. Even SA is no match. Through President Mugabe’s vision of empowerment and indigenization Zimbabwean will never be the same. With do not care what your masters tell you, we are in charge of our destiny. We are under sanctions but remain the fastest growing economy. We are being blessed and we now rank the most resourceful nation in the world. God bless Zimbabwe. God bless Africa


  3. Butler,

    Many thanks for your comments. Despite the incivility in some of your criticisms, I acknowledge that this post does not capture the whole breadth of what is going on in Southern Africa. That said, I would suggest that you take a moment and look beyond what the state media or your loyalty to Mugabe compels you to believe. Zimbabwe is not the most peaceful country in Africa. A quarter of Zimbabweans have fled the country. Not for tourism. But because of political persecution and economic collapse. These are facts. You can’t hide from them.

    And yes, God bless Zim.


  4. If you do not mind can I help with with people you alledge fled. When our economy collapsed between 2000 and 2008, for reasons we can argue forever, job creation was the most affected because industries closed. Under US led economic sanctions we never recieved help from IMF, World Bank like what they are doing to Greece. Credit lines were cut, oil supplys intercepted, local businesses sabotaged, trade halted, assets of parastatals frozen, development programs stopped among other things. We really touched the ground. But we focussed on regional and Eastern trade and we have had an average 8% GDP growth rate since 2009.
    Those people left the country, left because our economy was no longer producing jobs. Our 16 Universities(highest per capita in Africa) and many Higher learning institution kept producing human resources who were on demand globally with no jobs locally. So instead of saying people fled it is more correct to say Zimbabwe exported labour and expertise because remittances from these diasporians now is the single largest revenue source, earning almost US$1 billion for the gvt. So what you are told to be a curse is actually a blessing. No where in Africa has labour export has been so successful.

    About those who fled persecution, please educate me because I have only lived in Zimbabwe all my life and you are lying about my relatives. Give me a few examples and good sources. There was some disturbances but not worthy the exaggerated publicity. If u do not believe me, welcome to Zim. People then used that as a scapegoat to win asylum in the U.K. because of opportunities in U.K. These same people come back to Zim yearly and if they were being persecuted, would it make sense?


  5. I’m still compelled to say something b4 you continue misleading and misinforming readers.
    Zimbabwe discovered the world’s biggest diamond fields and the west unsuccessful tried to use KP to label our diamonds, blood diamonds. Shame but still it imposed an embargo to shy us of the US$1.2 bil we can rake monthly.
    You know nothing about the history of Africans fight against the imperialism and neo colonialism, that is why you are behaving like a journalist not a doctoral candidate.
    Zimbabwe has world’s largest deposits of diamonds, gold, platinum, chrome, methane gas and many industrial minerals. We are saying no to our resources building other economies and in your eyes thats evil.
    We remain the second most industrialized nation in Sub Sahara, we are owning the means of production, agric is now thriving again, we are developing self sustainance skills. During the sanction regime we built Africa’s first mega bio diesel plant and the biggest ethanol plant. So dont think we sit and cry, thanks to our regional and Eastern partners we remain resolute. You will be shocked and bow down with shame as we prosper.
    Our agrarian reform is a wonder to many and South Africans are pushing for thier’s the Zim style.
    I beg you to read about the Great Dyke in Zim.


  6. I was reading some of your articles, which speak for themselves that you not proud to be African and you are looking for all the wrongs Africa has done. If you find time write about the wrongs of NATO, the U.S. , capitalism, racism, imperialism, killing and looting.
    I was shocked that you idolize Mandela as ‘the greatest African’. Please have memory greater than a decade ago. What of the founding fathers of an independent Africa?
    Let me tell you about so called African heroes publicized by Western media like Mandela. The the west has a diffent dictionary which you read from.
    During Zim war of liberation, revolutionaries were called terrorist by U.K. and they fought in a fierce battle. The U.K. never wanted black rule in a “thousand years”. Zimbabwe won and the system protected the white interests. They owned everything so Mugabe (once a Marxist terrorist to them) was a hero. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth (that whore, who fought Mugabe days before), he was twice nominated for the Nobel peace prize, honored with countless honorary degrees BECAUSE he protected the interests of the whites. That is how a hero is defined. World over it was Mugabe this Mugabe that. When he switched to Black empowerment he became to them a racist. When he spearheaded the repossesion of land he was labelled a dictator. When he fought imperialism he was labelled a murderer.
    So it was easy to turn into a villian. We have refused to use the Western dictionary and a hero is a hero for his people.
    Besides staying in jail like every leader during colonialism did, and forgiving like every humanist would do, what else did Mandela do? He failed to denounce the economic injustices and racism still haunting the beautiful SA. His presidency was about protecting white interests and thats heroism to many eyes. The SA youth though with respect for Mandela are not happy, rather disappointed.. So be careful with media labels


  7. Butler,

    It is perfectly OK for you to engage in a debate without hurling insults. You seem like a reasonable champ, so act like one. Africa has real problems. Hiding behind insults like yours, or colonialism, or racism, or whatever is a lame coping mechanism. We should face the continent’s problems head on, admit our failures and define the way forward.

    I am a proud Kenyan who sees no need to apologize for mediocre leadership on the continent, even if it is Kenyan leadership.

    Whining about racism, colonialism and imperialism will only serve to keep Africa “in its place.” I can tolerate such whining from older generations but for us younger people it should simply inform our actions but not be THE deciding factor. You do not have to be an apologist for Mugabe.

    Lastly, please respect the fact that this is a public forum and desist from using insulting language.



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