A "culture of conservatism" : How and why African Union member states obstruct the deepening of integration (21 pages)

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though South Africa is economically strong enough that it does not
necessarily need the SADC or the AU, as the bigger part of its exports
go to the European Union (27.0 per cent) and China (13.5 per cent),
the SADC is nevertheless important for its exports, as 11.6 per cent go
there, while only 4.4 per cent of South Africa's exports are to parts of
Africa beyond the SADC region (calculated with figures provided by
the Department of Trade and Industry 2010). This shows the relative
importance of South Africa's immediate region for trade compared to
the continent. The SADC region hence gets more attention than the
AU despite some attempts of South Africa to move beyond the region,
as its recent involvement in the crisis in the Central African Republic
suggests. Under President Zuma foreign policy is inspired by pragmat-
ism and designed to support national (economic) interests (Economist
14 October 2010). Lastly, in the case of Swaziland, South Africa's hid-
den subsidies through the Southern African Customs Union (SACU),
equalling two-thirds of Swaziland's national revenue (at least until 2010
when the SACU revenues collapsed due to the global financial and
economic crisis), are an argument for Swaziland to reject a deeper
economic and political integration on the continental level, because
the biggest part of the national revenue is at stake if a free trade area
were to be established on the continental level. In short: the cases
show that the regional economic communities are more beneficial
than the AU in economic terms, and a consequence of this is that
states focus on these regional organisations and give them priority.

Political considerations also play a role. As pointed out above,

states have an interest to keep control over crisis solution within their
region. ECOWAS has done that with regard to Mali, ECCAS attempts
it with regard to the Central African Republic, and SADC's involvement
in the crises of Madagascar and Zimbabwe point in the same direc-
tion. National and regional interests are at stake and national leaders
often see their regional economic community better suited to address
crises. If the Zimbabwe crisis, for instance, had been referred to the
AU instead of remaining in the hands of SADC, South Africa would
certainly have lost some of its control over the process. We have to
regard the current debate on the establishment of the African Capacity
for Immediate Response, a rapid reaction force, as either a temporary
or permanent substitute to the Regional Stand-by Brigades in this
light. If the plan of establishing regional brigades will be abandoned in
favour of a rapid reaction force, the regions will lose considerable influ-

Strategic Review for Southern Africa, Vol 36, No 1 Martin Welz

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