Nigeria’s ‘Megaphone Diplomacy’ and South Africa’s ‘Quiet Diplomacy’: A Tale of Two Eras

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Nigeria, under Murtala/Obasanjo regime was widely acknowledged to have adopted an overtly active foreign policy toward the rest of Africa, and particularly, South Africa‟s apartheid regime, which was in tandem with her Afro-centric posturing at the
   Covenant University Journal of Politics and International Affairs (CUJPIA) Vol. 1, No. 2, December, 2013. Nigeria’s ‘Megaphone Diplomacy’ and South Africa’s ‘Quiet Diplomacy’: A Tale of Two Eras   Chidozie Felix C.  1  Agbude Godwin A.  2  & Oni Samuel 3   1 Department of Political Science and International Relations, School of Social Sciences, College of Development Studies, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State Nigeria. Felix.chidozie@covenantuniversity.edu.ng 2 Department of Political Science and International Relations, School of Social Sciences, College of Development Studies, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State Nigeria. 3 Department of Political Science and International Relations, School of Social Sciences, College of Development Studies, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State Nigeria. Abstract:  Nigeria, under Murtala/Obasanjo regime was widely acknowledged to have adopted an overtly active foreign policy toward the rest of Africa, and particularly, South Africa‟s apartheid regime, which was in tandem with her Afro-centric posturing at the time. This multilateral cum bilateral diplomatic relations earned Nigeria the status of a „frontline state‟ and wider recognition at other multilateral levels, but much animosity from the West. South Africa, under Mbeki regime was acknowledged to have adopted an overtly active foreign policy relation toward the rest of Africa, but covert diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe, which was in tandem with her African-renaissance posturing at the time. This multilateral cum bilateral diplomatic relations earned South Africa the status of a „backline state‟ and further diminution at the global stage. Nigeria and South Africa are arguably perceived as regional hegemons in Africa, whose national interest vacillate between cooperation and conflict. The fate of contemporary Africa, however, rest on the convergence of these ambivalence of interests. The work adopts the realist framework of analysis to interrogate the permutations of Nigeria and South Africa diplomatic trajectories at the periods under investigation. Furthermore, comparative analysis is applied to the discourse with a view to placing the analysis within theoretical context. The understanding of the diplomatic calculations that governed these two eras and their implications for contemporary  Nigeria/South Africa relations vis-a-vis African politics is instrumental. Ultimately, the fact that these diplomatic permutations played out within the context of the international economic capitalism makes the analysis more interesting. Keywords:  Foreign Policy, Megaphone Diplomacy, Quiet Diplomacy, Foreign Direct Investment 235   Covenant University Journal of Politics and International Affairs (CUJPIA) Vol. 1, No. 2, December, 2013. INTRODUCTION  Nigeria and South Africa are two  potential giants and powerful African states. Both are uniquely located within Africa to respond to the global challenges that are unfolding for the continent in the new century. The tremendous phenomenal changes that started evolving in the global system since the beginning of the 1990s, including the democratization process that commenced in the South African racist enclave, have had a significant  bearing on relations between the two countries and constitute a watershed for bilateral relations between them. This consciousness is jointly shared  by the two countries and has continually defined and redefined their relationships within the global  politics (Onimode, 1999). RESEARCH METHODOLOGY This research adopts a critical conversational method which involves literature review, histo-empirical analysis, critical conceptual clarification and analysis. As a way of exhausting the content of this research topic, the literature review affords us the opportunity of laying bare the concepts of Megaphone diplomacy and Quiet diplomacy of the two countries within the purview of our intellectual interrogation. The histo-empirical analysis affords us the opportunity of grounding this discourse on the empirical facts surrounding the foreign policies of these two countries rather than mere abstract  pontifications. Critical conceptual clarification and analysis is necessary in ensuring that we do not escape into the world intellectual irresponsibility by disengaging those that are not familiar with issues in Political Science and International Relations. Thus, there will be clear clarifications of the concepts that formed the bases of our discourse. In other words, this research adopts a qualitative method relying mainly on secondary data. NIGERIA AND SOUTH AFRICA: A CRITICAL DISCOURSE Since its independence in 1960,  Nigeria has been in the forefront of African and global politics. Although, the country initially tried to maintain an independent identity, it did not pursue an independent course. Rather, it was actively  pursuing a pro-Western policy especially during the First Republic (1960-1966). All that changed, during consequent events in global  politics that demanded a more assertive role for Nigeria, in liberating other African countries from the clutches of colonialism and white supremacist regimes. This redefinition of roles by Nigeria in African politics was clearly marked  by the posturing and perceptions of the successive military regimes which had wrested power from the more conservative regimes of the immediate post-independent era. Thus, Nigeria‟s perception as the „giant‟ of Africa and its almost altruistic commitment to the growth, development, peace and security of 236   Covenant University Journal of Politics and International Affairs (CUJPIA) Vol. 1, No. 2, December, 2013. the African States conferred on her a leadership position in Africa (Ogwu, 1999). In essence, among the military regimes which held power at the  period of decolonisation, the most active was the Murtala-Obasanjo regime of the 1966-1970. In driving the course of decolonization, the Murtala-Obsanjo regime did not involve in rhetoric, but actually deployed all military and diplomatic arsenal at the disposal of the state to thwart the anti-decolonisation  policies of the west and secure independence for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Namibia, while  placing the issue of South Africa‟s apartheid on the international agenda. According to Joseph Garba, the primacy of apartheid on the foreign policy agenda under Murtala/Obasanjo could not be overemphasized. He argued thus:  No other foreign policy issue has pre-occupied Nigerian governments more since our independence in 1960.  Nigeria has made friends with countries with whom she has nothing in common; she has conversely made enemies of erstwhile friends- all on account of their attitude towards the South African question. We have formulated economic policies that have sometimes been detrimental to our own development  because of our commitment to the eradication of apartheid (Garba, 1987:101). The commitment to the course of the liberation of South Africa, earned  Nigeria the status of a front-line state, even though she shares no geographical proximity with the South African region (Ogunsanwo, 1986; Akinboye, 2013) and consequently, commendations at multilateral stages. Paradoxically, the gains in the decolonisation  process engendered by Nigeria through her active Afro-centrism earned her much hatred from the west leading to strains in her foreign  policy relations with the latter. The extent of South Africa‟s influence and involvement in Africa and global politics is comparatively less than that of Nigeria. This is understandable. For several years, South Africa was a pariah state due to its apartheid system. The obnoxious policy had been in place for over four decades. It remained in existence until the early 1990s when a process of democratisation was initiated by the last apartheid President, Fredrick de Klerk, and the country began to parley with other states in the global system (Akinboye, 2005). However, since the dismantlement of apartheid and entrenchment of a democratic setting in 1994, South Africa has been fully engaged in African and global affairs. The successive regimes in South Africa have been instrumental in the more robust activities of the African Union (A.U), 237   Covenant University Journal of Politics and International Affairs (CUJPIA) Vol. 1, No. 2, December, 2013. Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations (U.N). The post apartheid South Africa has continually asserted their hegemonic influence within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), participating actively in  peace keeping efforts, especially in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Alao, 1998; Pfister, 2000; Habib, 2008). The active and influential personality of Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded  Nelson Mandela as the second  president of the post-apartheid South Africa best exemplifies the tempo characteristic of the post-apartheid foreign policy of South Africa. Some scholars have recognised the unique challenges facing the immediate  post-apartheid South Africa such as democratic consolidation, socio-economic disparity, rampaging effects of HIV/AIDS, land-based issues, gender-based divisions, and deep racial cleavages; which understandably occupied the attention of the Nelson Mandela administration and which also informed the defensive foreign  policy of his regime (Ala, 2003; Landsberg, 2005; Mazrui, 2006). But following Thabo Mbeki‟s coming in 1999 as the successor to  Nelson Mandela; he chose instead to actively and dominantly stamp South Africa‟s foreign policy on a regional and global stage. With deft diplomatic collaboration with Obasanjo‟s Nigeria and Wade‟s Senegal, Mbeki was able to initiate the birth of New Partnership for Africa‟s Development (NEPAD), which consequently led to the transformation of Organisation of Africa‟s Unity (OA U) to AU in 2002. In view of these bilateral cum multilateral moves, Mbeki left no one in doubt about his government‟s determination to jettison the conservative and defensive diplomatic approach of his  predecessor (Adebajo and Landsberg, 2003). It therefore, came as a surprise to the international community to notice the conservative approach with which South Africa treated her  bilateral relations with Zimbabwe on the heels of the legitimacy question in the latter. A number of conjectures have been postulated by theorists and analysts to explain the bilateral trajectories of South Africa‟s Mbeki and Zimbabwe‟s Mugabe, which incidentally are not within the confines of this paper. But it is important to observe that the continual defiance of the international outcry against the leadership crisis in Zimbabwe on the heels of the post-election crisis earned South Africa massive condemnation in the international community, leaving Mbeki with credibility questions, copiously  painted by the west. As earlier mentioned in the abstract, the  patronising approach of Mbeki to the Zimbabwe question may not be un-connected to his African-renaissance  philosophy which dotted every line in his foreign policy agenda 238   Covenant University Journal of Politics and International Affairs (CUJPIA) Vol. 1, No. 2, December, 2013. (Landsberg, 2003, Chikane, 2012; Chikane, 2013). It is against this background that this  paper interrogates the issues involved in the two eras under investigation and their implications for Africa‟s development. The issues are placed within the context of the international capitalist environment within which the regimes operated. After the introductory part of this  paper, the second section conceptualises realism as a theoretical approach in diplomacy. Following in the third section, the Murtala-Obasanjo regime is highlighted with special emphasis on the activism that informed the mega- phone diplomacy of the era. The fourth section interrogates the conservatism that characterised the quiet diplomacy of Mbeki in Zimbabwe. An attempt will be made consequently to bridge the gaps in analysis by a systematic and comparative approach in the fifth section. Finally, the concluding section wraps up the discourse. REALISM AND DIPLOMACY: CONCEPTUAL ISSUES The field of international relations is laden with concepts which are best described as contentious and worst as vague depending on the view  point of the scholar. This  problematic usually comes to play in an attempt to conceptualise terms in the cause of scientific investigations. Therefore, defining diplomacy and realism will not substantially defer from this difficulty in the discipline. Martin Griffiths, in his attempt to deconstruct the concept of realism from the traditional polarisation of the term, usually when being compared to idealism, voiced this growing concern in a rather poignant way. According to him, one of the difficulties of treating realism as clear-cut school of thought is that its representatives differ vastly in the way they use the assumptions which are said to define the school in the first place. For this and other reasons, he argued, there is not even a derivative consensus on how to define realism beyond a few broad assumptions about the importance of states as actors, the institutionally anarchic environment within which states co-exist, and hence the importance of power as the master variable to explain broad patterns of states‟ interactions. He concludes that at this level of generality, realism is simply a set of assumptions about the world rather than a particular theory, let alone anything so pretentious as a scientific paradigm (Griffiths, 1992). Ultimately, how one understands and evaluates realism in international relations depends a great deal on whether one views it as a  philosophical disposition, a scientific  paradigm, a mere framework of analysis, a testable explanatory theory of international politics, or an ideology of great power conservatism (op.cit, 1992). Off course, there are many other attempts to define realism more rigorously and narrowly so that it may be 239
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