South Africa's deceptive foreign policy
South Africa has, to a large extent, intervened in various other trouble spots on the African continent - the DRC and Burundi to name a few.
It also appears that South Africa has, of late, been preoccupied with Somalia. It was involved in the the troubles in Haiti and has always been preoccupied with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over half a globe away.
But from a broad view, when any analyst juxtaposes South Africa's effort to bring about democratic change in the DRC - even going as far as printing ballot papers and supervising their elections - its inaction on Zimbabwe, in an already advanced state of economic haemorrhage and political volatility, raises eyebrows.
It really does not
amount to mere rhetoric or unfounded accusations of Machiavellian schemes
to say that South Africa and its business interests has directly and
indirectly benefited from the destruction of Zimbabwe's economic capability.
It is not even a question of South Africa's malfeasance. It is plainly
a case of a sinister quasi-imperialist agenda, masquerading as 'diplomatic
engagement' on their part that they seek to entertain in order to perpetuate
their interests and hegemony as the chief politico-economic power edifice
It is common knowledge that, true to its Trojan Horse character, South Africa has pursued an aggressive policy of developing and upgrading its ports and communications facilities with the rest of the world, and when they say that they aspire to becoming the gateway to the African continent, they really mean it. Looking closely, one of South Africa's chief intentions is to ensure that countries such as Mozambique and Zimbabwe remain their political and economic satellites.
As a prime example, South African business interests in Mozambique at this time, have not had it any better. The country has become economically dependent on South Africa, and the latter country enjoys the status that such dependence attracts. When political change beckoned in Mozambique, there was a flood of South African business interests entering the changed climate.
South African products, South African shops, South African companies - you name it. It has become the holiday paradise destination for South African travellers and tour operators.
And last, but by no means least, South Africa has taken full advantage of the exodus of skilled Zimbabwean professionals to build its own economy.
An aggressive expansion has been undertaken of South Africa's harbours and ports - for the long-term purpose of inducing continued dependence by neighbouring countries, and even further. Zimbabwe has always depended on the lifeline to the port of Beira.
But what if the
port of Beira is upgraded to a capacity sufficient enough to cater for
a burgeoning future economy in that part of the region? What if Namibia
decides to head in the same direction with its port of Walvis Bay? It
would be far more convenient in terms of distance, for Zimbabwe to trade
via the port of Beira than transporting shipping by road and rail between
Zimbabwe and Durban via
The ANC-led government in Pretoria simply couldn't care less about who runs Zimbabwe at the end of the day - as long as the country can remain their active or passive surrogate, regardless of their argument to the effect that Zimbabwe is not being treated as South Africa's tenth province. Their claim than an all-inclusive political settlement should be reached in Zimbabwe is neither here nor there, for the Zimbabweans generally have established the necessity of this themselves.
Such utterances by South Africa for inclusive dialogue are anything but 'constructive', but more diplomatic, with a view to subtly tempering the nuances of their true stance. This comes as no surprise, given that long ago the Soviets, who were the former political mentors of the ANC, pursued the same kind of policy with its Warsaw Pact satellites. The only difference is that in this particular case it is not military.
There are many dynamics to consider, in terms of South Africa's circumstances, regarding the Zimbabwean debacle. In the first instance, amid international condemnation over events that have unfolded in Zimbabwe in the last few weeks, a sort of quiet panic has set into the corridors of power in the ANC-led government, vis-a-vis the prospect of (which they would dare not brand as 'reactionary' in public) a future MDC-led Zimbabwean government.
The thought of such a prospect would be rather unpalatable for the ANC, not only for the chief reason that Zanu (PF) is a member of the Old Boys' Club, as it were, but that an MDC-led government will align itself more to the West that its ANC counterpart.
Even with its relatively greater general rapprochement with the West than before in its history, and for deeply rooted ideological reasons, the ANC had chiefly drawn its influence from the Eastern Bloc. The first post-apartheid leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, only served to confirm this ideological stance by saying that the government should establish relations with the West, but not at the expense of the East, let alone preclude bilateral relations with Eastern countries. This had been most pronounced by South Africa's curtailing of diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of China.
No amount of convenient reasoning that Zimbabweans must sort out their problems on their own, can dispel intense suspicions of the latent and historically established imperialistic character of South Africa.
Albeit granting fairness where due, by taking into consideration South Africa's political imperatives at home, history has shown that South Africa has always pursued the lie of 'constructive engagement'. It is all very fine and well that South Africa should be pressured to 'pull the plug' on Mugabe, in much the same way when, in 1976, Ian Smith of the RF-led government in Salisbury was forced to accept the Kissinger Proposals for a political settlement of the Rhodesian question.
But the fact is that, at that time, South Africa only did this for the simple reason that they were at pains to ingratiate themselves with the Frontline States; that in their hope, the Frontline States would tolerate the Apartheid system in their back yard without batting an eyelid.
South Africa's modus operandi in this present time is exactly the same, but the only difference being that it is not a question of appeasing any Frontline States, but it is a question of appeasing their own electorate and the business interests of their own "Halliburtons", together with the entrenched interests of the Old Boys' Club regional leaders.
Regardless of what the South African Government has to say, the foregoing shall take shape as the typical opinion of the reason why South Africa is predisposed in this manner towards Zimbabwe. And needless to say, one reaps what one sows, because a future emerging Zimbabwean economic rival shall make matters rather difficult for South Africa, as such future economy, in its engagement with neighbouring economies, would make the space for manoeuvre that South Africa currently enjoys somewhat restricted through competition.
Therefore, South Africa's stance on Zimbabwe amounts to nothing short of reckless posturing, that in the long term will not bode very well for the South African economy.
Alain Balageas writes from South Africa. He can be contacted via e-mail: Alain.Balageas@bigenafrica.com
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