South Africa has experienced its worst unrest since apartheid ended. Mobs attacked shopping malls and factories in two provinces. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Pauline Bax explains that the disturbances exposed the political and economic dynamics of a state struggling to contain deadly violence.
Following Aug-Sept xenophobic violence, foreign nationals 8 Oct began sit-in protest near office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town demanding relocation out of South Africa; refugees and asylum seekers 20 Oct also protested outside UNHCR offices in Pretoria and Johannesburg. In Cape Town, police 30 Oct forcibly tried to disperse sit-in protest near UNHCR office, arresting about 100. Ramaphosa attended first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, Russia 23-24 Oct; for first time two Russian nuclear-ready bombers on training mission landed in South Africa 23 Oct, left 28 Oct.
For years, South Africa trusted in behind-the-scenes contacts to alleviate Zimbabwe’s political and economic problems. But those troubles have continued to mount. By stepping up pressure, and by working with Washington on reform guidelines, Pretoria can help Harare find a way out of its crisis.
In the years right after apartheid fell, South Africa was a leader in continental diplomacy, brokering peace accords and bolstering multilateral institutions. Its role subsequently diminished, but today it is well placed to make a positive difference in several trouble spots.
Tensions over land and race, which have already contributed much to Zimbabwe’s political and economic collapse, are rising in South Africa as well. New approaches are needed if they are not to push tempers to the boiling point across all southern Africa.
Originally published in IOL News
Originally published in City Press
Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director, and Trevor Maisiri, Southern Africa Senior Analyst, talk about tensions surrounding Zimbabwe's 2013 elections. We recently published the report Zimbabwe: Election Scenarios looking at possible paths towards elections, expected to be held between July and November 2013.