Africa’s Lost Leader: South Africa’s Continental Role Since Apartheid

In This Review

Africa’s Lost Leader: South Africa’s Continental Role Since Apartheid
By James Hamill
Routledge, 2018
128 pp.

In 1994, with the end of apartheid and the introduction of majority rule, most observers believed that South Africa was destined to become a regional hegemon, given its large economy and its highly professional and well-equipped army. Hamill carefully explains why South Africa’s international standing has instead waned over the last two decades. Thanks to the apartheid state’s history of bullying and military intervention in southern Africa, the new democratic government was reluctant to take on an explicit leader-ship role in the region. In recent years, the country’s stagnant economy and poor governance have limited its attractiveness as a role model and its ability and willingness to exercise influ-ence. Hamill also emphasizes the sharp decline of the South African armed forces, after years of neglect and underfunding. Military spending has dropped from 4.4 percent of gdp in the final years of white minority government to just one percent today, sharply reducing South Africa’s ability to project power beyond its borders. 

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