News / Africa

Some S. Africans Oppose Military Deployment in CAR

Fighters for the Seleka rebel alliance stand guard in front of the presidential palace in Bangui, Central African Republic, March 25, 2013.
Fighters for the Seleka rebel alliance stand guard in front of the presidential palace in Bangui, Central African Republic, March 25, 2013.
Solenn Honorine
— South Africa lost 13 soldiers during a fight against the Séléka rebels, staging a coup in the Central African Republic last month. This was the worst military loss in a foreign country since the fall of apartheid and it triggered a political backlash for President Jacob Zuma, who authorized the mission. Foreign policy specialists say the loss could influence South Africa to re-evaluate its foreign policy on the continent.

The deaths of its soldiers in what seems like a faraway country has triggered a backlash for Zuma:  the political opposition is seething, and the media is speculating on the existence of hidden economic interests for the South African political elite who seemed to have colluded to defend an embattled dictator in CAR.
 
But Alfredo Hengari, a researcher for the South Africa Institute for International Affairs, says Pretoria's sending of extra troops in January was in line with the 2007 bilateral agreement between both countries.
 
Hengari says Bozizé was still the legitimate president of CAR at the time. In his opinion he says South Africa's big mistake was a lack of preparation and ignorance of the complex political realities of the country.
 
Since coming to power in 1994, the ruling party African National Congress's foreign policy has promoted democracy on the continent and the search for “African solutions to African problems”.  So, in this respect, interventionism on the continent is consistent with long-stated goals.
 
Check Achu, a researcher for the Africa Institute of South Africa, says that Pretoria also believes that helping achieve greater stability on the continent is in South Africa’s interest.
 
“If one look[s] critically at the number of people that come down to South Africa when there is a problem in any part of the continent, it is alarming," noted Achu. "So South Africa, by engaging in the continent, it will try to resolve the problem before it actually started, before it escalates to the point where refugees will come down to South Africa. On the African continent, we need a powerful nation to drive the United States of Africa project. And South Africa has all the resources, the manpower, the military drive, to actually drive this particular project.”
 
South Africa is, by far, the main power on the continent:  its gross domestic product (GDP) is almost double Nigeria's, which is Africa's distant second richest country. In recent years it has shown a willingness to play a bigger role in continental affair.  It lobbied extensively to ensure the election of one of its nationals, Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma, as chairperson of the African Union.  As a member of the emerging powers grouping, the BRICS, it is also the voice of the continent in relations with China, Russia, Brazil and India.  
 
But Siphamandla Zondi, the director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, says, although South Africa is flexing its muscle on the world stage, it remains wary of being perceived as a bully.

“South Africa is an enthusiastic leader but is a reluctant hegemon. It is reluctant to become a policeman of the continent," Zondi said. "What we see is a South Africa who is enthusiastic to play a role but is very worried of the implications of doing it alone.”
 
According to Zondi, the deaths of the 13 South African soldiers could dampen Pretoria's enthusiasm in continental affairs.
 
“The issue of South Africa's involvement in the Central African Republic is a seriously contested issue within South Africa," noted Zondi. "But it's almost a non-issue on the continent. That's the biggest implication that we might see in the coming years: it might cause South Africa to be reticent, a little bit, in playing the role of a stabilizer, supporter of democratization, governance strengthening, in fear of a backlash back home.”
 
Zondi says that South Africa learnt a hard lesson from its experience in the Central African Republic, where it sent troops according to the terms of a bilateral agreement. Instead, Pretoria should be seeking multilateral agreements to shield itself from the fallouts at home, he says..

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid