A Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe – Strategic Communication Overview

Project Overview

To anticipate the eventual change of leadership in Zimbabwe this document has been created for communicators and foreign policy analysts as a predictive tool for how the different external stakeholders will go about using strategic communication to complement Cover Page Zim Projecttheir diplomatic missions in Zimbabwe. A document based on prognostication means there are certainly gaps in understanding and predicting how humans will drive interactions. However, using a theoretical framework from the discipline of International Relations will provide guidance on constructing this forecast. Of course, not every actor is welded to a particular theory of IR, and thus below is a starting point for analysis, not the end.

The document has been divided in three different possible scenarios that could see Robert Mugabe leave office: an election, a military coup, and his death. Each scenario is broken into the actions taken by each external actor engaged with Zimbabwe: the African Union, China, the European Union, South Africa, and the United States. For each scenario the goals, strategies, and tactics for each country are outlined, leading to where each country would target their message. Some focus on the people of Zimbabwe, the military, or the other countries in the region. For each target, the message is determined by the set of objectives each country is trying to achieve in the post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. While some covert or diplomatic action is specified, the aim of this document is to predict the public diplomacy or overt strategic communication each actor takes towards its targets. The last piece of each country’s communication plan is the way the actor will engage or react to the actions of the other 5 international entities. This is to account for the fact that no communication plan exists in a vacuum and that the best laid plans will need revising based on the actions and counter-actions of the other players on the scene.

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Africa Day @ The South African Consulate: Engaging Non-State Actors

AU - 50 Years

I was fortunate to spend Africa Day 2013, the celebration of the founding of the OAU, at the South African Consulate in Los Angeles. This year had special meaning as it was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the precursor to today’s African Union and was an opportunity for the African community to come together to hear from a distinguished line up that spoke of the potential of the next 50 years. Congresswomen Maxine Waters spoke, drawing significant applause; Councilman Mike Gipson from the City of Carson awarded certificates, Consulates from Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa sent representatives; and two professors from CSU-Dominguez Hills gave mini-lectures.

I went without knowing much of what to expect of the rhetoric. With South Africa gaining the AU Commission’s chairpersonship of the last year, the Republic has much to gain through the promotion of the AU if Dlamini-Zuma is able to ‘clean up’ the organization and help it flex its muscle on the continent. That also may have been reflected in one of the themes of Africa Day 2013: African Renaissance (the other Pan-Africanism). This was a major theme of Thabo Mbeki’s foreign policy but one that hasn’t been pushed forward since NEPAD has faded.

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The day’s news coverage was generally positive about the AU, but there are many who are writing about the gap between the AU’s promise and its action (see links at the end). Among the critiques is the organization’s inability to solve the latest conflicts on its own: Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, and Mali all required international intervention (notably led by the French) to bring about stability. But the organization has had success in Somalia, with signifcant foriegn backing. Furthermore, with South African forces headed to DR Congo with a more aggressive posture than a simple peace keeping role, this may be the beginning of a more active AU. Still, there are political problems in places like Madagascar, Guinea Bissau, and the Central African Republic that will require the AU’s non-military attention if it is to gain a reputation as a leader in conflict resolution.

What I listened for in all the Africa Day speeches were the statements on engaging civil society and the youth. Continue reading

African Diplomacy: Overview of a Project

African Union MapMy latest project originally sought to understand African diplomacy from a true realist IR perspective. Of course that’s ironic, because IR realists rarely acknowledge the pull or influence that diplomacy (or Africa) has on the IR field. My goal was to understand if there could be any benefit to African nations by pooling their diplomatic representation through a body such as the African Union, rather than conducting their own individual missions abroad. Why staff a small embassy with inexperienced diplomats when a nation could leverage the power of the entire continent and have the best and brightest African diplomats representing their collective needs? Again this runs a tad contrary to realist thinking who usually dismiss the supranational organizations of the world of holding any real power. However, I’m of the believe that in the future these bodies will be the real power holders in IR theory and practice.

Of course, this idea of a African foreign service would sound very similar to the European External Action Service that has come into being with the signing of the Lisbon Treaty in the European Union. There are now two tiers of European diplomacy: national diplomats from individual countries & EU diplomats representing the organs of the supranational body. The African Union, while modeled on the EU in some circumstances (though it was mostly a recasting of the Organization of African Unity while combining the economic capabilites of the African Economic Community and taking its mandate and supplanting it with NEPAD), the AU has yet to develop a pan-African diplomatic service. Thus I was very curious if there would be a way to argue for and against such a diplomatic organ of the AU. As it turned out, predictably, there is very little research into this idea, and while I had thought to expand my comparison to ASEAN, most papers focused on the integrationist desires, not the benefits of a collaborative foreign service, that diplomats or the diplomatic corps in supranational capitals (Brussels, Addis Ababa, and Jakarta). Thus I turned to the wide ranging literature on regional integration for my project to see how the move towards integration on the continent compares to the EU and ASEAN and what impact that would have on the respective diplomatic powers.

AU Emblem

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The African Week in Review: Jan 28-Feb 4

Tons of activity on the continent this week, ranging from the farcical diplomatic movements at the African Union, to the unveiling of Africa’s own tablet, to anti-Wade Protests in Senegal, and finishing up with the commencement of the knock-out rounds in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the Africa Cup of Nations.

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