ISBN 9780798304856
Pages 188
Dimensions 244 x 170 mm
Published 2015
Publisher Africa Institute of South Africa, South Africa
Format Paperback

Promoting Progressive African Thought Leadership

edited by Aziz Pahad, Garth le Pere, Miranda Strydom

The much-heralded economic benefits of the neo-liberal free market economy have not materialised. Instead we see across the world, among others, growing inequality in terms of the distribution of wealth and income, which has led to such popular responses as the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US and the antiausterity demonstrations in Europe. And indeed neo-liberal deregulation to create a ‘free market’ for the financial institutions led to the world financial and economic crisis which started in the US in 2008 – the worst global economic crisis since the 1929 Depression, again in the US. Given all the foregoing, what is called for are alternative and progressive voices which are able to offer different interpretations and readings of the fastunfolding events and processes, and are also capable of questioning the prevailing assumptions and underlying logic of the Western ‘liberal order’. This is the same order that must bear much of the responsibility for the current state of despair, hopelessness, and cynicism in international relations. These alternative and progressive voices are especially important for us as Africans, given the reality that Africa remains marginalised in terms of helping to fashion these relations, despite their direct impact on the lives and destiny of the one billion Africans. This is further compounded by the weakness of the African voice even about African developments.

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Review

This book represents what might be called 'symbolic capital' in the sense that, under the rubric of the Concerned Africans Forum (CAF), it is an attempt to develop a different set of lenses for understanding many of the critical themes that shape South African current public discourse and body of opinion. This kind of capital that the CAF has promoted is not only about how these themes are articulated and expressed from a progressive and critical perspective. It is also, quite crucially, about how the use of this capital can serve to influence debate and understanding as well as the agenda of public discussion, especially as this relates to Africa. The offerings contained in the book have evolved out of the presentations and discussions that the CAF has hosted since its inception. The Forum had its origin in the West's manipulative intrigue in engineering regime change in Libya, together with tendentious and self-serving media coverage - both Western and South African - that went with it. The Libyan conflict again demonstrated the consequences of the imbalance in the global power relations. Thus those with preponderant political and military power could take decisions to determine the future of Libya, to the detriment of the Libyan and African peoples. The CAF Open Letter on Libya was very prescient and warned about the dangers that would accompany the social and political trauma of regime change in that country. Other similar open letters or statements also followed on Syria. These have been reproduced at the end of the book. However, it is in the strategic and topical relevance of many other issues addressed in its chapters that the book has added immense value and refreshing perspectives. A sampling of the analytical coverage includes the conflict in Mali and how this plays out across the Sahel region, the changing political landscape in Egypt following the ousting of Mohammed Mursi, the al-Shabaabled attack at a Nairobi shopping mall, the implications of the al-Qa'eda threat in Africa, and the US geo-political agenda in Africa and its militarised impulses. The book also reflects on important topics in the South African setting, such as challenges of nation-building and inequality. This book opens a window to the need for critical vigilance and ongoing reflection about the mounting complexities that come with power-as domination in our extremely fluid continental and global environments.

Thabo Mbeki, Former President of the Republic of South Africa
About the Editors

Aziz Pahad

Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he held from 1994 until he resigned from government in 2008. He has served in various structures of the African National Congress (ANC) from the time of his exile in the 60’s to date. In September 2014, President Jacob Zuma appointed him as Special Envoy to Gaza. Pahad is also Chairperson of the Concerned Africans Forum and a Trustee of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

Garth le Pere

Visiting Professor at the University of Pretoria and a Senior Associate at Gabriel & Associates. He is also the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue, where he served for 12 years. He received a BA (with highest honours) from Rutgers University (USA) and did postgraduate work in political science at Yale University (USA) from where he holds MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees. His areas of interest and publications record include international relations theory, multilateral trade and emerging markets, South African foreign policy, the politics of Africa and the Middle East, and China’s increasing role in Africa, a subject on which he has co-authored a book, China, Africa and South Africa: South-South Cooperation in a Global Era. He is completing another book, China’s Global Rise: Reconfiguring Power after the Cold War, which will be published in mid-2015.

Miranda Strydom

Former Presidential Correspondent of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). She worked as a journalist for 16 years and left the media industry in 2011 to join the Thabo Mbeki Foundation where she is heading the Communications unit.