South Africa’s Trade with Africa is Valued by the BRICS

BRICS logoThis past spring, I heard a lecture by a communications professor about Globalization in Africa. It was a very generic talk, covering many broad issues that concern Africans and policy makers. I was dissappointed to take nothing substantive away from the talk, as I felt it was simply a quick overview of basic themes and topics. However, it was during the second part of his talk, that on South Africa, that I become motivated for my latest paper, Globalization in Emerging Markets United: How South Africa’s Relationship to Africa serves the BRICS (Click here to Read). In no uncertain terms, the professor mitigated South Africa’s involvement in the continent in terms of trade and investment. For someone who claimed to have a special place for the Rainbow Nation in his heart, I was taken aback by the mistatement. Since his talk had contained numerous inaccuracies and misintepretations of South African history, I decided to bite my tongue rather than start a critique on his presentation after the Q&A part began. The talk did provide me an incentive to correct his statement through a research paper that would show how deep South Africa’s involvement with the continent, especially the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Then I would explain that the BRIC countries see this importance and have integrated South Africa into its organization.

The paper starts off by discussing Apartheid South Africa’s interactions with the continent during the time of Total Onslaught and the origins of South African hegemony in the region. It then explains the links through which South Africa and its neighbors are inter-connected by covering certain markets and business sectors that South Africa capital had swept into after the dismantling of anti-apartheid sanctions. The paper then specifially talks about South Africa Telecom by examining the New South Africa poster child for success, MTN, and their continental ventures.

Finally, the paper dives into the formation of the BRICS and South Africa’s invitation to join the organization this spring. By examining trade data from the International Trade Centre, I was able to show how strong South African trade is with the region despite its economy being of much smaller size than it’s new BRICS partners. It turned out to the one of the most empirically based papers I have written to date, but it allowed me to play around with charts and graphs that really made the information come through to visual learners like me.

With this data presented, hopefully a much clearer involvement of South Africa in Africa can be seen. As BRICS membership is likely to change the business and economy of South Africa, this paper would be a useful start for anyone beginning that journey.

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Review of Chieftaincy, the State, and Democracy: Political Legitimacy in Post-Apartheid South Africa


Click Here for: Outline for Book Critique

In J. Michael Williams’ Chieftaincy, the State, and Democracy: Political Legitimacy in Post-Apartheid South Africa, the relationship between the new South Africa’s sources of mixed authority is examined through field research conducted in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal around the turn of the Millennium. Williams tells of an ongoing struggle in South Africa about political legitimacy between the state and chieftaincy regarding which institution has the right to exert authority in rural areas.

Williams focuses on how the chieftaincy seeks to establish and maintain its political legitimacy with the local population as well as the state in the post-apartheid era. Through comparative case studies he analyzes specifically on how chieftaincy and local populations have negotiated the introduction of specific norms, rules, processes, and institutions that are fundamental to the ANC’s policies of transformation and democratization.Through a framework that Williams calls the multiple legitimacy framework, he seeks to show how the chieftaincy has sought to establish and maintain its authority in the midst of these political changes. With chieftaincy still a central figure in the lives of rural communities in South Africa, the examination of the complexity of the chieftaincy-state and chieftaincy-society relationship that have formed and continue to evolve in the post-apartheid world.

Williams says his analysis is necessary because current assumptions about legitimacy conclude that power will eventually reside in the government as democracy and local government become more ingrained in society. He uses his framework in understanding the results from three case studies in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and supplements the data with national economic and survey data from other authors in the field. While stopping short of drawing empirical generalizations, he seeks to use his analysis to tell the story of real South Africans who deal with the struggles of the post-apartheid political structure in their daily lives.

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The Year of the South African World Cup

This year has been one of fantastic adventures and difficult challenges. Alisa and I began the year in Washington DC having started entry level jobs at the most innovative technology company on the planet, but with no real plan for the future other than to save up and return to Africa, where hopefully we would find employment. When the email came from FIFA on the 5th of February notifiying me that I had won tickets to all the matches I had submitted for during the random drawing, it gave me what I thought would be new purpose to life. I finally had confirmed tickets to return to the country I had fallen in love with only 3 years earlier. It would finally give me a reason to book my plane tickets and set off, hoping that Alisa would tag along for the World Cup part even though she sought to find a ‘real’ job in Washington DC. The year took on new meaning when just seven days later, I received another email accepting me into the African Studies Program at the University of Califorinia – Los Angeles.

I had lost hope of getting into graduate school when I saw my GRE scores flash on the screen the previous December. I thought I had blown my money on apps and the test as well as the chance to improve my chances for ‘real’ employment in the near future. So when UCLA sent the confirmation email of my acceptance, I was relived and surprised that I had got in. That surprise grew when just a few weeks later I learned that the Masters of Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California had also extended it’s acceptance letter to me. Suddenly I had a reason to return to the United States after the World Cup, and I set out to convince Alisa to embark on this journey of a lifetime. Continue reading

Lost Posts of 2010

Over the course of 2 months in Southern Africa this summer, Alisa and I strove to blog about our experiences everyday to provide friends and family a look into our daily adventures but also as a way for us to document the journey. Hopefully this will allow us to look back in the years to come and get a clearer picture of all that we did and where we went. The blog helped serve as our motivation for keeping track of things we did, as we also felt a responsibility to pass on the insider information we acquired throughout the region so that future travelers would have smoother sailing.

Blogging from the iPad exclusively in Mozambique was difficult as it was our first leg of our adventure, and the least amount of data coverage we would come across. While we sought to review each place we ate and stayed, we quickly realized that our nomadic lifestyle wouldn’t allow for hours of writing each day. Thus days were back logged and reviews were left in drafts. Moving back to South Africa we retrieved Alisa’s Macbook Pro from safe keeping and we were able to write in a speedier manner and catch up to just a day lag for our blog posts. However, we’ve found that days that were written about were not posted, or they were deleted (thanks to the glitchy WordPress app for iPad, which has by now of course recieved many updates making it a much more reliable app). Over this holiday season, Alisa and I were able to pour over our writings together for the first time. We found that our memorable 30 hours in Kimberley never got documented at all, the day before and day of the  France-South Africa match had been lost, and that our days of driving back into South Africa were of such tedium that they were never written down.

While back in the US, the blog will primarily shift back to postings articles on African studies and news, but it will fire back up for the preparation for the next trip back to the African continent!

Below are links to the ‘lost’ posts:

Kimberley Day 1

Kimberley Day 2

Bloemfontein Day 1

Blomfontein Day 2