published on Perspectives: South Africa; emerging power or fading star?
South Africa, 2006. The country’s GDP growth rate stands at 5.6 percent, the highest since the first democratic elections in 1994. After supporting the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union at the beginning of the millennium, President Thabo Mbeki’s vision of an “African renaissance” of peace, stability and development is glowing with vitality. In July, the Democratic Republic of Congo holds its first multiparty elections in 41 years, following a peace deal that Pretoria helped to broker in 2002. In September, the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum meets for the first time in Brasilia. A month later, South Africa is elected non-permanent member to the United Nations (UN) Security Council (2007–2008), with 186 out of 192 votes. Given its economic prowess, regional influence and international aspirations, South Africa cements its role in the world as an “emerging power” and the most influential player in Africa.