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Research Report

Southern Africa:: Threats and Capabilities

Gavin Cawthra
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2008
Pages: 20

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)
    Terje Rød-Larsen

    IPI is pleased to introduce a new series of working papers on regional capacities to respond to security challenges in Africa. The broad range of United Nations, African Union, and subregional peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding initiatives in Africa underscore a new sense of multilayered partnership in the search for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa. As the total number of conflicts on the continent has been significantly reduced in the past decade, there is widespread recognition of the opportunities for a more stable and peaceful future for Africa. But there is also a profound awareness of the fragility of...

  4. (pp. 1-2)

    The southern African region is now generally defined in political terms as those countries that are members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (the geographic definition is usually somewhat more limited). Currently there are fifteen member states of the SADC: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    These countries are disparate in many ways: they vary greatly in size, population, and levels of economic growth, and include some of the poorest countries in the world, but also some of the richest in...

  5. (pp. 2-5)

    A vast range of often interconnected issues can be identified as causes of insecurity or factors that contribute to insecurity in the region, and it is difficult to do them all justice here. What follows is therefore necessarily schematic and selective.¹

    Overwhelming poverty, marginalization, and inequality within and between states, exacerbated in many cases by globalization, remains the bedrock of human insecurity in southern Africa, as elsewhere in Africa. Most southern African states are characterized by massive (and often increasing) poverty and inequality. Most are indebted and dependent on aid, trade, and investment flows from developed countries, resulting in a...

  6. (pp. 5-9)

    A wide range of actors within the region have shouldered the burden of dealing with threats to security. The focus of this section will be on multilateral institutions, but attention will first be paid to the states that play key roles in conflict prevention, management, and resolution (of course, as well as in contributing to conflict); and the active community of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with peace and security issues, especially in South Africa.

    South Africa, as the regional hegemon, has a critical role to play: it is able to project military power, it dominates the region economically, and following...

  7. (pp. 9-11)

    A number of scenario-building exercises have been carried out in recent years in southern Africa. Most of them have concerned South Africa. There is one exception: in 2004 the South Africa-based NGO, the Institute for Global Dialogue, published a scenario exercise, “Southern Africa 2020: Five Scenarios,” which specifically focused on the SADC region, and was based on the scenario-modeling approach of Peter Schwartz.14 This developed, as its name suggests, five scenarios: “Danger! Ngozi! Kotsi!,” which envisaged a region plunged into multifaceted violent conflict; “Market Madness,” in which the region was driven by globalization and “unbridled private sector economic activity” which...

  8. (pp. 11-12)

    The task of making recommendations is not easy, given the complexity and interrelatedness of security threats in southern Africa, so this section will focus mainly on the multilateral dimensions of security cooperation and how these might be enhanced.

    First, many interventions need to take place at the level of the state. Democratic consolidation needs to be implemented, or where there is no formal democracy (as in Swaziland), transition needs to occur. All the attributes associated with good or effective governance need to be nurtured and enhanced. These include accountability, transparency, and responsiveness. In the security sector, the raft of issues...

  9. (pp. 12-12)

    This paper has looked at the security challenges facing the southern African region, taking a wide view and arguing that such threats are not primarily military, but largely political, social, and economic in nature; and while there may be very strong external drivers of insecurity, it is internal dynamics that predominate.

    This paper examined the—mostly multilateral— capacities for dealing with such threats. I argued that a comprehensive regional framework has been put in place, but that it has not necessarily been implemented, and even so, the existence of regional security mechanisms does not imply that the AU and the...

  10. (pp. 13-13)
  11. (pp. 14-14)