The role of South Africa in SADC regional integration: the making or braking of the organization

Saurombe Amos


The economic and political strength of South Africa in Southern Africa is undeniable. South Africa is the strongest economy in Southern Africa and in the whole continent of Africa. Regional and global interests lie at the heart of South African’s foreign policy resulting in the need to create compromises that may disadvantage the SADC block. South Africa is the current chair of SADC and its leadership role is critical. The country is also the gateway to foreign direct investment to the developing world. This paper seeks to discuss the critical position which South Africa finds itself in. The challenge to provide leadership at regional and global level has also been compounded by the domestic outcry for a need to deal with issues at home. South Africa holds the key for the success of SADC both at economic and political levels.  However SADC’s dependence on South Africa may turn out to be a stumbling block since there is divided attention. This has been shown by South Africa’s ‘go it alone’ approach when it comes to negotiating trade agreements, e.g. with the EU, as well as its unwillingness to compromise on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) that the other SADC Members States are signing. What is obvious is that SADC needs South Africa but at the same time South Africa is at liberty to choose when to drive the SADC agenda. This problem has to be delicately addressed if SADC is seriously seeking success on the regional integration front.

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