South Africa's integration efforts within the Southern African Development Community: Regional supremacy or coalition?

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
South Africa's integration efforts within the Southern African
Development Community: Regional supremacy or coalition?
Daniel N. Mlambo
|Olusola Ogunnubi
Department of Public Administration,
University of Zululand, Richards Bay, South
Faculty of Management Sciences,
Mangosuthu University of Technology,
Durban, South Africa
Olusola Ogunnubi, Mangosuthu University of
Technology, Umlazi, Durban 4013, South
Regional integration has manifested itself to be an integral part of Africa's postcolonial
economic growth blueprints. It was viewed as a mechanism for African states to
enhance their development and work collectively, improve their cooperation, and
enhance peace and security. Nevertheless, regional integration initiatives are often
seen to succeed when spearheaded by regional hegemons. By narrowing this to
southern Africa, from 1994 after the firstever democratic elections and after also
becoming a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South
Africa was regarded as a state capable of spearheading regional integration. This was
a result of its relatively robust economy and military power in comparison with other
SADC states. As a result, it was poised to utilize these vast resources to the benefit of
the SADC. However, over the last two and a half decades, its regional stance has
often come under a lot of scrutinizing due to its ambiguous foreign policy doctrine,
particularly in southern Africa. Basically, its post1994 foreign policy projections
towards the region have often not been implemented as attested and have often
lacked clear articulation. Nevertheless, this paper argues that South Africa has made
positive strides in the SADC's regional integration endeavors post its democratic tran-
sition. Its vast regional investments and diplomatic and military interventions have
played a crucial role in the development and security reforms in the region. Although
it is portrayed as a regional hegemon, it has nevertheless used its regional standpoint
to the benefit of the region and further contributed to regional integration post the
apartheid era.
Regional integration has been observed as a vital factor as a result of
various possible gains for its member nations. Generally, the need for
regional integration is drawn from factors that compose of improved
trade prospects, abolishing of tariffs, attract foreign direct invest-
ments, better market share, bilateral engagements, regional security
mechanisms, and infrastructural development. From an African
perspective, regional integration was regarded as a means of rectifying
the continents underdevelopment, colonial heritage, and dependence
on western donors particularly post the colonial era where African
states could know partake in continental politics and trade on their
own and not in the hands of their erstwhile colonial rulers. (Jiboku &
OkekeUzodike, 2016).
South Africa is regarded as one of the biggest regional powers in
the African continent and by far the biggest in Southern Africa.
Although Pretoria possesses ample amount of political and economic
potential, there has been vast scholarly debate (particularly post
1994) whether it has duly utilized this potential for the benefit of
Southern Africa's regional integration and governance attempts.
Through his seminal paper entitled South Africa's Future Foreign
Policyin November 1993, former president of South Africa Nelson
Mandela emphasized that
Southern Africa commands a special significance in our
foreign policy, we are intimately part of Southern
Africa and our destiny is linked to that of a region.
(Mandela, 1993)
Received: 24 July 2018 Accepted: 2 August 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1856
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1856.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of7

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