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South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa

Relations with Other Countries

In the early 1990s, South Africa began establishing or reestablishing ties with many other countries. Algeria, Bulgaria, Italy, Libya, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, and Tunisia announced the end of trade sanctions against South Africa in 1991 and 1992, paving the way for full diplomatic relations. Representatives of 169 countries attended President Mandela's inauguration in May 1994; by 1995 South Africa had ties to at least 147 countries.

Among the many countries that were eager for closer ties to South Africa in the mid-1990s were the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC). South Africa and the ROC had maintained ties during the apartheid era, partly because both were virtual outcasts from the international community. The PRC had been strongly critical of apartheid but had been cool toward the ANC (generally supporting the PAC). In the 1990s, President Mandela expressed South Africa's desire to maintain longstanding ties to the ROC and to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC. In response to PRC objections to proposals of dual recognition, Mandela suggested that the question of sovereignty should be decided between Taipei and Beijing, rather than being left to other countries to choose between them.

With one of the strongest economies in the world, the ROC has been an important source of investment, trade, and tourism for South Africa. Taiwanese investments in South Africa, for example, exceeded R1.4 billion in 1994, according to South African reports, and the ROC was then one of South Africa's six largest trading partners. In addition, Taipei made significant contributions to South Africa's Reconstruction and Development Programme and to other areas of development.

The PRC--with lower levels of investment, trade, and development assistance to South Africa--nonetheless represents a population of more than 1.2 billion people in the 1990s. In addition, Beijing holds a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and is recognized by most other countries as the legitimate representative of the Chinese people. With the expected transfer of control over Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997, some South African officials argued forcefully for strengthening ties between South Africa and the PRC, even at the expense of ties to the ROC. Opponents argued, in response, that Taiwan's record of commitment to South Africa and Beijing's record of disregard for international norms concerning human rights favored recognition of the ROC over the PRC, at least in the mid-1990s.

International Organizations

The year 1994 marked a watershed in South Africa's international relations, as it was welcomed into regional and international organizations, such as the UN, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Nonaligned Movement, and many others. The UN already had played an important role in South Africa's transition to democracy beginning in August 1992, when United Nations Security Council Resolution 772 authorized the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA) to help quell political violence. UNOMSA deployed thirty members in November of that year, and increased the number to 1,800 to oversee the April 1994 elections.

On May 25, 1994, the United Nations Security Council lifted the last of its punitive measures, the arms embargo of November 1977, known as Security Council Resolution 418 (strengthened in December 1984 as Security Council Resolution 558). Pretoria then refused to pay roughly US$100 million in dues and annual payments for the years its UN participation had been suspended. In 1995 the UN waived most of this amount, stating the Pretoria was not obliged to make back-payments on behalf of the apartheid regime.

President Mandela addressed the OAU summit in Tunis in June 1994, when South Africa assumed its seat in that organization for the first time. He emphasized his support for other African leaders and South Africa's solidarity with African interests. Also in June 1994, South Africa rejoined the British Commonwealth of Nations, which included fifty-one former British colonies. This action followed a thirty-three-year absence that had begun when South Africa declared itself a republic in 1961.

South Africa became the eleventh member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on August 29, 1994, when Deputy President Thabo Mbeki attended a SADC meeting at the organization's headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. SADC's predecessor, the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), had been established in 1979 to attempt to reduce regional economic dependence on South Africa. In 1992 SADCC's ten member states agreed to reorganize as SADC in order to strengthen regional ties and to work toward the formation of a regional common market.

On September 21, 1994, South Africa became the twenty-fourth member of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone and attended that organization's meeting in Brasilia. South Africa also signed a declaration affirming the South Atlantic as a nuclear-weapons-free zone as well as agreements on trade and environmental protection in the region.

South African leaders in early 1996 were working to capitalize on the universal goodwill that had greeted their country's establishment of multiracial democracy in 1994 and its emergence from international pariah status. It was evident, at the same time, that some of the ANC's former staunch defenders in Africa were expecting concessions and assistance from the new government in Pretoria, in recognition of the decades of support South Africa's new leaders had received during their struggle to end apartheid.

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Many excellent books, monographs, and articles are available concerning the South African political system. Valuable works include those of Robert M. Price, The Apartheid State in Crisis: Political Transformation in South Africa, 1975-1990 ; Donald L. Horowitz, A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society ; Allister Sparks, The Mind of South Africa: The Story of the Rise and Fall of Apartheid ; Marina Ottaway, South Africa: The Struggle for a New Order ; Kenneth W. Grundy, South Africa: Domestic Crisis and Global Challenge ; Stephen John Stedman, ed. South Africa: The Political Economy of Transformation ; John D. Brewer, Restructuring South Africa ; John Kane-Berman, Political Violence in South Africa ; and Timothy D. Sisk, Democratization in South Africa: The Elusive Social Contract .

Informative biographies of political leaders include two works by President Mandela: The Struggle is My Life , and Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela ; Willem de Klerk's biography of his brother, F.W. de Klerk ; Gerhard Maré and Georgina Hamilton's An Appetite for Power: Buthelezi's Inkatha and South Africa ; and David Ottaway's Chained Together: Mandela, de Klerk, and the Struggle to Remake South Africa . Analysis of political organizations is found in works by Edward Roux, Time Longer than Rope: A History of the Black Man's Struggle for Freedom in South Africa ; Baruch Hirson, Yours for the Union: Class and Community Struggles in South Africa, 1930-1947 ; Anthony Marx, Lessons of Struggle: South African Internal Opposition, 1960-1990 ; Sheridan Johns and R. Hunt Davis, Jr., eds., Mandela, Tambo, and the African National Congress: The Struggle Against Apartheid, 1948-1990 ; Patrick J. Furlong, Between Crown and Swastika: The Impact of the Radical Right on the Afrikaner Nationalist Movement in the Fascist Era ; and Vernon February, The Afrikaners of South Africa .

Outstanding analyses of the country's foreign relations include those of Pauline H. Baker, The United States and South Africa: The Reagan Years ; Stephen Chan, Exporting Apartheid: Foreign Policies in Southern Africa, 1978-1988 ; George W. Shepherd, Jr., ed., Effective Sanctions on South Africa: The Cutting Edge of Economic Intervention ; Gavin Maasdorp and Alan Whiteside, eds., Towards a Post-Apartheid Future: Political and Economic Relations in Southern Africa ; and Chester A. Crocker, High Noon in Southern Africa: Making Peace in a Rough Neighborhood . (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of May 1996

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