NewsSouthern AfricaSouth Africa: We are not punching above our weight - Ebrahim


Posted on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 15:31

South Africa: We are not punching above our weight - Ebrahim

By Crystal Orderson in Johannesburg

Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation/Photo©AFPWhen Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, talks about his country's foreign policy it's almost an echo chamber for the views of President Jacob Zuma himself.


The two men have known each other since serving in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the African National Congress's military wing, and their time as political prisoners on Robben Island.

South Africa should play a leading role in Africa without being a bull in a china shop, Ebrahim told The Africa Report: "We are not punching above our weight, we are punching according to our weight.

SA is an important country on the continent."

Without a strong South African diplomacy backed by the country's economic clout, Western powers would continue to make decisions on behalf of Africa, says Ebrahim.

He strongly backs plans to send a 3,000-strong peacekeeping force under the auspices of the UN to the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to enforce a peace agreement signed at the African Union in February.

A Tanzanian general will command the force whose troops will be drawn from Southern Africa.

"Let us as Africans intervene in the DRC and avoid foreign intervention. Here is a good example of Africa taking an important initiative to resolve the problem," he said.

The forthcoming state visit of Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan to South Africa will be important bilaterally and regionally, says Ebrahim.

"Cooperation between South Africa and Nigeria would assist the continent in having a common position on African issues. On the question of instability in the Sahel [...] they are an important player."

Despite South Africa's growing relationships with emerging powers, its relations with Europe are still crucial: "Europe would remain in an advantaged position when it comes to industrialisation and technology," he said.

"Although they are facing an economic crisis now, we believe they will resolve it and we need to continue to build relationships." ●

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