South Africa has emerged as a major power on the continent since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Its size, relative stability and the moral authority won through the long anti-apartheid struggle give it unusual weight in African and international diplomacy. Nonetheless, the ruling African National Congress has lost some of its lustre after a decade of economic mismanagement and corruption that has eroded much of the state’s infrastructure. The country has lately experienced severe unrest due largely to persistent crime, joblessness and inequality exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdowns. Through reporting and analysis, Crisis Group tracks indicators of social conflict in the country, advocating for economic reform, while pushing Pretoria to assume a bigger role on the regional stage.
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.
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.