South Africa as a Regional Great Power

  • Samuel M. Makinda


South Africa is the wealthiest, most populous and militarily the strongest state in southern Africa. There is no clinical definition of the southern Africa region, but it generally consists of 10 countries: South Africa and its former colony, Namibia; former Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique; former British High Commission territories of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland; and former Central African Federation members, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The region is basically a geographic unit, but it also contains states which have historically maintained a network of commercial, political or communications links with South Africa. Tanzania, as one of the Frontline states, may be thought to be a southern African state, but in my view, it does not fit in the region either geographically or historically. With a population of about 37 million, South Africa accounts for about 40 per cent of the region’s total population. It has about 26 million blacks, six million whites, four million ‘coloureds’ and one million Asians. In spite of international economic sanctions, and a severe recession in 1991, South Africa’s economy has remained buoyant in comparison with those of neighbouring states, with the exception of perhaps Botswana and Zimbabwe.1 With a GDP in 1989 of more than US$ 90 billion, South Africa accounted for more than 80 per cent of the GDP of the 10 countries of the region taken together. It has a strong industrial base and is self-sufficient in most goods. It does not have oil reserves, but has the technology to convert coal into oil.


African State International Politics African National Congress Security Council Resolution South African Government 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1992

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  • Samuel M. Makinda

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