South Africa’s foreign policy has evolved through various presidents, from Nelson
Mandela to Jacob Zuma. One characteristic lacuna through the various administrations
has been the weak linkage between foreign economic strategies and domestic
economic objectives. There is a gap between what is expressed in rhetoric and the
actual execution of foreign policy. Further, since the dawn of democracy there has also
been a gradual shift from a foreign policy that exhibited strong normative expressions,
inclined to the West, to a more pragmatic foreign policy that is aligned with the new
rising powers. Yet, beyond the tilt, there seems to be a lack of clarity of ideas that
inform the various decisions and activities associated with foreign policy activities.
This paper takes a closer look at these changes in South Africa’s foreign policy, with
particular focus on foreign economic strategies as played out in the country’s role in
multilateral economic processes such as the World Trade Organisation, the G20 and the
BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.