South Africa’s Interests Must Inform Our Foreign Policy Agenda

Misalignment in South Africa’s Foreign Policy Strategy has been the subject of much criticism and scrutiny. Could the issues result from ambiguities in the country’s foreign policies, or are they simply due to misunderstanding? Foreign Policy scholars, writers, and practitioners interested in post-apartheid international relations have sought to unpack South Africa’s Foreign Policy choices.

As we stand at the crossroads of history, it becomes more important than ever to envision a future where the harmonised rhythms of our country’s vibrant tapestry resonate within our borders and reverberate with strength and unity worldwide.

To that end, South Africa’s foreign policy, as we venture into the future, must be a beacon of hope, echoing the principles of humanity, equality, and justice, the very foundations upon which our nation was reborn under the leadership of our nation’s Founding Father, President Nelson Mandela who spearheaded a Foreign Policy posture committed to safeguarding Human Rights; the advancement of democracy; Justice; Peaceful Resolution to Conflicts and Economic Cooperation.

In looking to the future, we must acknowledge the centrality of the broader African Continent in our international relations strategy. South Africa, as a key player on the Continent, must foster a Pan-African outlook, promoting unity, peace, and socio-economic and political cooperation throughout the Continent. Within this framework, ActionSA envisages an equitable, integrated, and united Africa, one that champions sustainable development, economic prosperity, and social justice.

We anticipate a continued commitment to multilateralism, which adheres to a rules-based international system, respect for international law, and the primacy of diplomatic engagement. With South Africa’s legacy of overcoming divisions and fostering unity, we must once again stand to reclaim its place as an advocate for resolving conflicts through dialogue, negotiation, and mediation. Our diplomatic engagements must espouse the principles of Ubuntu – our universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.

ActionSA’s Inter-Provincial Policy Panel discussions emphasised the need for global governance reforms, advocating for a more inclusive and representative United Nations, including the reform of the UN Security Council to strengthen the voices and representation of African nations. We will pursue a foreign policy that is keen on forging alliances that advance the interests of the global South, affirming the spirit of unity, collaboration, and mutual respect.

As we stand before the challenges climate change presents, our foreign policy will be dynamic and aligned with the principles of sustainable development. We will advance a green and just transition that accommodates economic growth and environmental stewardship, encouraging the international community to adopt a more aggressive stance on climate action.

We envision a South Africa that will stand firm against all forms of discrimination, racism, and xenophobia, advocating for a world where the rights and dignity of all individuals are respected. Through active diplomacy, we will spearhead initiatives aimed at gender equality, the empowerment of youth, and the upholding of human rights globally, showcasing the rich diversity and resilience of the South African people.

Economic diplomacy will be at the forefront of our foreign policy as we move forward. South Africa will seek to build robust economic partnerships grounded in mutual benefit and focused on fostering innovation, technological advancements, and skills development. We will leverage our strategic geographical position and rich resources to foster regional economic integration, improving connectivity and facilitating trade and investment. Ladies and gentlemen, the road ahead is not without its challenges.

However, grounded in the principles of Ubuntu, emboldened by the spirit of Nelson Mandela, and guided by a vision of a united, prosperous, and peaceful world, ActionSA’s foreign policy will articulate an optimistic, forward-thinking, and firm commitment to forging a future that echoes the dreams of our forebears and meets the aspirations of future generations.

In this endeavour, we invite South Africans throughout our land to join hands with us, to build bridges of understanding, to foster partnerships grounded in mutual respect and shared values, and to work collaboratively in crafting a world committed to justice, equity, and the collective wellbeing of all its inhabitants.

ActionSA believes that the interests of South Africa should be at the forefront of our foreign policy agenda.

ActionSA is guided by the following principles:

Principle 1: We reaffirm a commitment to democratic principles, peaceful resolution to conflict, and harmonious co-existence with our neighbours while respecting the sovereignty of each country. Therefore, ActionSA affirms that respecting the borders and autonomy of neighbouring countries is essential for regional stability and development.

Our Foreign Policy will strive to foster good relations with our neighbours, recognising that their security and prosperity are bound with ours. Whether through bilateral engagements or regional organisations like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), South Africa aims to strengthen cooperation, promote economic integration, and jointly address common challenges such as poverty, disease, and climate change.

Furthermore, Let it be made clear that ActionSA will maintain South Africa’s participation in BRICS, the G20 and all other cooperative forums. However, we must underscore that ActionSA will only participate in these forums under the condition that such engagement serves our nation’s best interests. We are committed to ensuring that South Africa and her people’s interests are consistently prioritised above all else in any international cooperative engagement.

Principle 2: A Peaceful, Democratic, and Economically Prosperous Africa: Ending Poverty, Unemployment, and Inequality

We envision an Africa characterised by peace, democracy, and economic prosperity. To achieve this vision, ActionSA actively supports initiatives to end poverty, unemployment, and inequality across the Continent. More importantly, one that aims to move South Africa and influence fellow African states to move from being suppliers of primarily raw materials to value-added goods that can improve our overall GDPs.

Through mutually beneficial partnerships, foreign aid, trade, and investment, and collaboration with regional organizations and foreign investors, ActionSA’s Foreign Policy aims to promote economic growth, create job opportunities, and address social disparities in Africa.

Principle 3: A Fair Multilateral System with Equitable Representation: Balancing Global Power Dynamics

ActionSA believes that the world’s multilateral institutions must reflect the diversity of the global community. Therefore, ActionSA advocates for a fair multilateral system that ensures equitable representation and power-sharing between countries from the global North and South. South Africa actively participates in international forums, such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the G20, to promote a more inclusive and just global order.

Through diplomacy, South-South cooperation, and alliance-building, South Africa seeks to influence global decision-making processes and advocate for reforms that address the imbalances in the international system. We work towards creating opportunities for developing nations to have a voice in shaping the rules, norms, and policies that govern the world.

Ultimately, our vision is founded in the aspirations enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa for our county to strive to build a united, democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.