Junior Partner South Africa (II)

PRETORIA/BERLIN | | suedafrika

PRETORIA/BERLIN (Own report) - Government advisors in Berlin are recommending that measures be taken to stabilize South Africa's domestic situation. The democratic market economic order must be consolidated and processes of social disintegration combated, warns a recent study published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Otherwise South Africa's utility for the German economy will be as insecure as that country's role as a junior partner for German foreign policy. The gap between the poor and the rich could lead to a "radicalization" of the governing party and prompt it to make serious "encroachments into the market economy, particularly in regards to the right to private property." This must be thwarted through government programs to enhance job opportunities for the lower social strata or even through means of foreign cultural policy. Several of the SWP's proposals are already being implemented by the so-called German development policy. Berlin, for example, is supporting administrative reforms through which the poverty-stricken part of the population will have better prospects. Other projects have been implemented specifically in South Africa's preparation for the World Cup, but serve also long-term German interests.

Domestic Stability

Two factors play a primary role in the SWP's considerations for South Africa's domestic situation: the German enterprises' economic interests in lucrative business relations with that country and Berlin's political interests in co-opting Pretoria as its junior partner for foreign policy objectives.[1] Domestic "stability", according to SWP, is important for both of these. Besides, Germany's political and economic interests "are best served, if the democracy and market economy of the country are maintained." A lack of democracy would engender corruption and often "a certain degree of political inertia". A lack of market economy damages German business. In addition "regression in democratic consolidation", "economic stagnation" or even the "accentuation of domestic strife" would not only have a serious adverse affect on "South Africa's international attractiveness" but also on "the material configuration of South African diplomacy". After all, South Africa is "needed to serve" as the model of a success story "for other African and threshold countries". A "positive development" domestically, would "clearly be supportive" of Germany's aspired "status of South Africa, as the rising international medium power and an African regional power."[2]

The Right to Property

According to the SWP, in South Africa "popular support for democracy (...) is clearly stronger than for market economy ". Particularly the black majority in the population, with the high rate of unemployment - estimated by SWP at between 25 - 40 percent - is hardest hit. Their "chances of obtaining regular employment" is "imaginably limited". "In their eyes (...) the South African market economy is therefore not particularly legitimate nor worth maintaining." It is not out of the question that the "political development could lead the ANC to become more radical", in which case "there is a higher probability of more serious encroachments into the market economy, particularly the right to private property", for which the SWP proposes both material and ideological counter measures. For example "cooperation in development (...) could, to a limited extent, facilitate government programs improving the living conditions of the population sectors lowest on the scale and enhance their possibilities for finding employment." The foreign cultural policy could "play a major role in the consolidation of democracy and the market economy." And finally, German NGOs could reduce the "predominance of the governing party," offsetting, what, from the German perspective is considered as the counter productive, concentration of power in the hands of the ANC.

Social Chasm

According to the SWP, domestic stability is showing "considerable deficits," particularly "the low level of public security caused by widespread crime." This derives from the "huge social chasm between rich and poor," the high rate of unemployment of youth, as well as the "social consequences of HIV/AIDS." "In spite of the increase in personnel, the reorganization, better equipment and training efforts," South Africa’s police "have yet to succeed in bringing down the country's crime rate." SWP proposes two approaches to solving this problem. The German government could intensify its aid to the South African police on the level of training and equipment. But the "lawlessness in the townships and the huge rich-poor divide provoking property related offenses are more than merely problems of the police." Therefore SWP also proposes measures of professional training that could enable individuals to climb the social ladder. After all, "the rise of numerous blacks into the middle and upper class" has a "stabilizing" effect.

Triangular Cooperation

Berlin's political and economic interests and the possible solutions to the problems, as described by the SWP, correspond, to a large extent, to Germany's "development" policy with South Africa, for which Berlin has earmarked for the two-year period 2010 - 2011 approximately 112 million Euros. Germany is supporting South Africa’s administrative reforms aimed at promoting municipal self-government to increase "the opportunities, above all, for the poorest in the population". The German government is financing "measures to prevent violence at the municipal level" and is helping combat HIV/AIDS. This disease not only "poses a danger to the economic development of the country but also to its social stability,"[3] warns both the German development ministry and SWP. Berlin is also promoting a "triangular cooperation with South Africa," meaning that both countries are jointly implementing development projects in other African countries - a step that introduces South Africa into the role of an African regional power.

World Cup

Just before the opening of the World Cup last Friday, the German government initiated other projects for social stability in South Africa to prevent a "radicalisation" and the resulting restrictions on the right to property. The project "Youth Development through Football (YDF)" is targeting the disadvantaged youth between the ages of 12 and 20, to acquire "life skills" and "improve their perspectives." Within the framework of the "football field project," 100 football fields are to be constructed in the middle of townships. The "focus" is "particularly on the prevention of violence and conflict resolution" writes the German development ministry.[4] And finally, German police are supporting their South African colleagues in preparation for the World Cup [5] - a measure that will help establish contacts and will continue having an effect even after the World Cup.

Duty Bound to German Interests

These measures, initiated for the World Cup and also used for PR purposes have long-term applications. They are serving German interest in an economically and politically stable junior partner, South Africa.

[1] see also Junior Partner South Africa (I)
[2] Zitate hier und im Folgenden: Stefan Mair: Südafrika - Modell für Afrika, Partner für Deutschland? SWP-Studie S12, Mai 2010
[3] Südafrika: Zusammenarbeit; www.bmz.de
[4] Deutsche Projekte; www.deutschland-suedafrika-fussball.diplo.de
[5] LZPD unterstützt Südafrika bei Fußball-WM 2010; www.polizei-nrw.de