SAPES Trust research: peace and security in post-apartheid Southern Africa
Ching’ambo, Lloyd John
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Currently, there are two schools of thought about the region in the post-apartheid era. The first one is an old thesis. It suggests that although SA would no longer pose a military threat as it did before De Klerk came to power, its considerable superiority (technological, etc.) will continue to be a source of economic destabilisation. Thus, whichever group comes to power, SADCC states will continue to be vulnerable. SA will always seek to utilise its powerful economic leverages to suggest that, although formal (or institutional) apartheid as we have known it is officially dead, the region will not escape economic apartheid. There is merit to the above statement. However, it ignores one essential point: that the objectives, environment and factors that made SA act in the way it did have slowly been changing. It follows therefore that new relationships between SA and its neighbours at the bilateral and collective levels will emerge (where they have not yet started to shape up). True, SA’s hegemonic strengths and powers are still in place. But their presence need not be a source of instability for SADCC or oppression of its neighbours (see also Nyong’o, 1990). During the Total Strategy Era, SA deployed its superiority in all its forms as an instrument of coercion. This economic superiority could now be put to better use developing the region. Indications are that SA is committed to working with its neighbours on an equal footing (refer to Chingambo, 1992).