Mandela's World: The International Dimension of South Africa's Political Revolution: 1990-1999

Article excerpt

Mandela's World: The International Dimension of South Africa's Political Revolution: 1990-1999. By James Barber. Athens: Ohio University Press and Oxford: James Currey, 2004. Pp. ix, 214. $44.95 cloth, $24.95 paper.

James Barber examines the relationship between domestic and foreign policy in the postapartheid and post-Soviet world in which the African National Congress came to electoral power. Barber tracks the transition from a South Africa politically disdained by, and yet socioeconomically entangled in, the white Western world to a South Africa that finally comes to identify with Africa and the Third World at the highest level of political authority. Central to this is Barber's notable and rare description of the other countries in Southern Africa as being part and parcel of the international climate and not simply satellite states of South Africa's apartheid regime. Thus, Barber offers a unique contribution simply by acknowledging the impact of other African states on South Africa instead of the other way around. Critical to telling this story is Barber's attention to what was popularly called "Madiba Magic," the charming and winning political posture of Mandela contrasted against De Klerk's vision for a negotiated government of national unity. The competition over which constituencies and which of these two strong personalities would set the South African foreign policy agenda, and whether that agenda would be focused on wealth redistribution or wealth consolidation, makes up the major thrust of the book.

Ultimately, neo-liberal moderation prevailed and even Mandela's charm was not enough to make South Africa become the sort of champion for global economic redistribution that it initially hoped to be under the ANC's leadership. Although both leaders promoted a negotiated settlement, they were not equally successful at deploying the moral authority internationally that made the antiapartheid movement an international cause celebre. Skilled at drawing and wooing international support for this negotiated settlement, both men were not equally matched when it came to the day to day governance in the government of national unity. Indeed, De Klerk's eventual abdication of his position reflects how compromised he felt his shared leadership was, despite the success of having achieved the government of national unity that he had so deftly lobbied for. Though exiled ANC activists reported that South Africa had earned pariah status, their petitions to world opinion were increasingly leveraged against more moderate forces within the ANC. Concerned about building the necessary administrative capacity to cope with increasingly globalized financial institutions; militarized and displaced African people and political movements; and the seemingly perpetual lack of trade, aid, and financial investment in Africa, the ANC had to make different choices.

Though Barber hints at a long history of international concern with apartheid (including the 1946 protests by India, the 1947 protests of the annexation of Namibia, and the vigorous protest by the newly independent African states and their intergovernmental organizations-the Organization of African Unity, the Non-Aligned Movement, and their Commonwealth representatives), this intervention into domestic policy was constantly destabilized by apartheid government detente and attempts to negotiate non-aggression agreements (e. …


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.