South African foreign policy and the great lakes crisis: African renaissance meets vagabondage politique?

I. Taylor*, P. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article explores how far the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has sabotaged the attempts of South African President Thabo Mbeki to engineer an African Renaissance. It does so in three stages. The first section discusses how South Africa's African policy has been influenced by Mbeki's vision of a renaissance and exactly what this has entailed. The second section then provides an analysis of the conflict in the DRC and suggests that the primary factor driving the violence is a form of kleptocratic political economy, what we call vagabondage politique. The third discusses South Africa's unsuccessful attempts to broker a peace agreement. The article concludes that, ironically, the very neo-liberal principles that lie at the heart of Mbeki's vision of an African Renaissance have contributed to the erosion of the neo-patrimonial state in Africa and actually encouraged the growth of what William Reno described as 'warlord capitalism'. Thus, instead of understanding the war in the DRC as the antithesis of an African Renaissance, it may well represent a prophetic glimpse of what the dark side of neo-liberalism has in store for areas of the globe that remain peripheral to the affairs of the great powers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-286
Number of pages22
JournalAfrican Affairs
Volume100
Issue number399
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2001

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