The aim of this study is to analyse and critically assess the nature, scope and basis of South Africa‟s official external threat perception as it developed during the period from 1994 to 2012. Accordingly, the assessment allows for the identification of shortcomings in the current national security policy on external security threats, based on the alignment of external threat perceptions with the Government Programme of Action. Essentially what had to be determined is whether perceived official threats correspond with the actual situation. Accordingly, the main research question of the study is: What is the nature, scope and basis of the post-1994 official external threat perception of South Africa? The research problem generated four subsidiary questions: When does a security issue become a national threat? What types of threat are there? How does the South African government perceive these threats? And whose security is threatened?
In responding to the main research questions, the study‟s findings note a change in perceptions during the post-Cold War era as to what constituted threats to security. The focus shifted from traditional to non-traditional threats to national security, because most current threats are non-military and transnational in nature. The analysis of South Africa‟s official external threat perception is informed by the changed views of Government towards what are considered the main threats to national security. The study concludes with key findings in response to the stated problem and with specific recommendations. The study confirmed that the nature of threats and security debates post-1994 have changed constantly with the expansion of the security agenda beyond state and military security. The official viewpoint is that South Africa at present is not faced with any military threats. Emphasis is currently placed on human beings as the main object of security. Most identified threats are transnational in nature and these relate to the illegal flow of immigrants, terrorism, organised
crime, climate change (linked to food and water security), regional instability and other socio-economic threats. These threats are being perceived and articulated by Government through policy announcements and public speeches, also validated in the critical analysis of various scholars.
The concept of non-traditional threats still lacks a commonly accepted definition; hence the study proposes the need for South Africa to define and outline non-military security threats in a comprehensive manner, preferably through the development of a South African External Threat Perception Framework. Developing such a framework will assist security agencies (such as analysts) and other stakeholders in providing advice and guidance to Government in identifying external security threats. This initiative could eliminate the abuse of power by various stakeholders in securitising any issue as a threat to national security, and instead divert those resources to other Government services. Provision should also be made in the form of policy initiatives on the role of military force and other agencies in addressing non-military security threats. Thus, the development of key elements of an integrated national security strategy in order to address external security issues and threats is essential.
Dissertation (MSecurity Studies)--University of Pretoria, 2014.
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