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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid