South Africa’s foreign policy priorities under the Zuma Presidency

29 November, 2010

Wilton Park and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) held a briefing discussion led by the South African Institute for International Affairs on Thursday  25th November.

Joining the BRIC group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to encourage “south-south co-operation”, and promoting commerical diplomacy to create a free trade area that stretches from the Cape to Cairo are among top foreign policy priorities for South African President Jacob Zuma; according to Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, National Director of the South African Institute for International Affairs. Ms Sidiropoulos led a delegation of experts from the Institute, one of the most prestigious in Africa which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, to address policy at the briefing.

At the briefring South Africa saw a free trade area as the first practical step towards greater and more effective regional integration, seeking a more prominent role on the world stage. President Zuma has recently moved to establish a Council on Foreign Relations as a formal advisory body to the government, but South Africa cannot not separate itself from its South African identity and needs, first and foremost, to clarify its own relationship with the rest of Africa with a full debate on its interests and identity.

The situation in Zimbabwe poses a particular challenge

There are declining economic and social conditions in the country, but there is a marked reluctance by neighbouring S.Afica’s ANC party to move against the government of a fellow, feeling a genuine conviction that any intervention might do more harm than good.

Delegates

Discussions were chaired by Wilton Park’s Adela Gooch, Programme Director for Key States

SAIIA delegation

  • Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, National Director of the Institute
  •  Steve Gruzd, Head of the Governance and African Peer Review Mechanism Programme
  •  Romy Chevallier, EU-Africa Climate Change Researcher
  •  Chris Alden, Head of Africa in China programme

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