South Africas Foreign Policy All Things to All States

A University of Leicester lecturer has shared his expertise of South Africa with leading thinkers and policy makers at a Chatham House event in London.

South Africa's Foreign Policy: All Things to All States? took place in London on 2 November with James Hamill of the School of History, Politics & International Relations.

He was joined by Oscar Van Heerden, Trustee, of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, Pumela Salela, Country Head, United Kingdom, Brand South Africa and the Chair of the panel was  Lesley Masters, Senior Research Associate, University of Johannesburg.

Mr Hamill said: “South Africa’s external engagements since 1994 have been shaped by its ambition to be Africa’s champion as well as ‘one among many’ on the continent. Within sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa has sought to be a development partner, moral leader and industrial investor all at the same time. Equally it has acted as a friend and ally to developing countries, traditional donors and its BRICS partners. But this effort to be all things to all states is under increasing strain.”

Mr Hamill’s talk drew upon his forthcoming book for the International Institute for Strategic Studies which examines South Africa’s capacity to assume the role of a hegemonic power in Africa. The book concludes that Pretoria has limited capability to do so given its declining material power and its inability to play a dynamic role at the ideational level.

The event also launched Oscar Van Heerden’s latest book Consistent or Confused: The politics of Mbeki’s foreign policy 1995-2007, as well as a new research paper by the Chatham House Africa Programme examining the drivers of the country’s commercial engagement on the continent, as speakers assess the sustainability and future of South Africa's foreign policy.