Occasional Paper

Continuity and change in South Africa’s present and future foreign policy

This occasional paper concerns questions relating to the domestic political, economic and social character of the post-apartheid state, examines a number of assumptions commonly held about South Africa’s foreign policy in the post-apartheid period, and questions the extent to which the ‘new political dispensation’ has an external as well as internal dimension. South Africa is likely to be a powerful regional player in sub-Saharan politics, and the new South Africa will not opt for isolationism. All visions of South Africa’s future foreign policy concern its full participation in international affairs. While South Africa will probably play active roles in the Commonwealth and UN, it is not clear that it will be non-aligned. The new South Africa will be hard put to maintain political and ideological indifference to global issues. Its future role in world politics is bound to be constrained by its success at local and regional levels. The priority will be the search for internal political stability allied to economic growth. The primacy of domestic politics mitigate against adventurous foreign policy postures.