tjir_v1n4rum01 - Eight Years of Tension, Misperception and...

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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 2002 158 Eight Years of Tension, Misperception and Dependence from April 1994 to December 2002 Zimbabwe - South Africa Foreign Relations: A Zimbabwean Perspective Martin R. Rupiya* During the short eight years since South Africa (SA) gained her majority independence in April 1994, Zimbabwe has experienced near seismic changes in her relations with her neighbour. Sadly, the changes appear to be all adverse as we write. This debilitating impact, of the policies adopted during this period, is graphically reflected in the political, security, economic and social spheres. In assessing Zimbabwe’s foreign policy (ies) towards SA, it is important that we also cast a glance at her regional stance within SADC and other fora. Through this secondary prism, it is possible to discern the sort of positions adopted in order to positively influence given individual national interests. At the political level, Zimbabwe is grappling with a debilitating domestic and international political hiatus and has moved from being ‘my brother’s keeper’ to SA before 1994 to becoming reliant on the latter. SA intervention within the Commonwealth, 1 in Africa and internationally has provided the most important conduit through which Zimbabwe has been able to engage these partners over the last year or so. In the economic and social areas, Zimbabwe has moved from being the second most important trading partner with SA, 2 to what can only be described as a dependent state. 3 Its
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.4, Winter 2002 159 currency has become almost worthless 4 while the economy, based on an agricultural, has stagnated and begun to regress rapidly. This development has been as a result of launching an almost secretive land reform policy that caught the locals, regional players and the rest of the world by surprise. SA was forced to embark on a ‘quiet diplomacy route’ with its neighbour in order to better understand the policy motivation as well as pre-empt the inevitable outflow of refugees from Zimbabwe across her own borders. In embarking upon this containment strategy, other factors such as drought and famine as well as acute shortages of foreign exchange have forced SA to underwrite loans and provide credit in a situation where the International Financial institutions, donors and investment have withdrawn from the country. 5 The impact of the ongoing land reform, associated with politically motivated violence has also been exacerbated by the massive emigration of professional and skilled staff as well as investors. 6 Meanwhile, wider SADC regional economic integration since 1994, in favour of SA, has proceeded more by default rather than commission in a trend in which Zimbabwe appears to have adopted policies that have culminated in her increased isolation. 7
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tjir_v1n4rum01 - Eight Years of Tension, Misperception and...

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