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South Africa, U.S.: Dueling for Hegemony in Africa
September 04, 2007 20 48  GMT

Summary

South Africa recently expressed opposition to the proposed U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), in a move to prevent Washington diplomatically from challenging Pretoria’s dominant position in southern Africa. However, South Africa’s designs do not extend into the West and the Horn of Africa. There, AFRICOM will face a different set of basing obstacles as it pursues its core interests of securing energy supplies and combating terrorism.

Analysis

Just days after South African Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the Pentagon’s command in Africa, known as AFRICOM, is not welcome in southern Africa, former Zambian Vice President Christon Tembo said Sept. 4 that caution is needed by African countries before AFRICOM can be established, an allusion to a similar position taken by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa.

However, South African opposition to AFRICOM will not block the latest U.S. combatant command from securing basing rights in the West and Horn of Africa regions. But it does represent an effort by Pretoria diplomatically to pre-empt the United States from challenging South Africa’s return as the undisputed regional power in southern Africa.

South Africa sees itself as the natural power in southern Africa. It is thus seeking to re-establish its hegemonic position, which during the apartheid era reached as far north as southern Angola and the Katanga province area in southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were also in this sphere of influence.

The end of apartheid in 1994 saw the African National Congress (ANC) party come to power in South Africa, first under Nelson Mandela and then under Thabo Mbeki. While both Mandela and Mbeki sought to reassure neighboring countries that South Africa no longer held hegemonic designs, South African commercial interests — dominated by its mining sector but also including banking, construction and telecommunications — not only continued but also expanded their operations in southern Africa.

South Africa’s almost-complete consolidation of democracy under ANC rule also means its era of internal focus will be ending shortly, opening up room for maneuver elsewhere. With no credible rival political party in sight, Mbeki’s party will face certain re-election in 2009. Mbeki’s as-yet-unchosen successor — or possibly Mbeki himself, since he has not ruled out seeking a third term — will be expected to devote more resources to promoting South Africa as Africa’s premier power, able to involve itself internationally by mediating conflicts in Africa and assuming leadership positions at the U.N. Security Council, the African Union and the G-8.

Already Africa’s most sophisticated polity and greatest economy, South Africa’s power soon will be complemented by a series of military moves. South Africa’s push for a Southern African Development Community peacekeeping force, to be equipped and based in South Africa but able to inject itself into any of the continent’s conflicts, will be reinforced by the procurement of Saab Grippen and BAE Hawk fighter jets, A-400M aerial refueling and transport aircraft and German submarines and corvettes. Delivery of this package began in 2006 and is expected to end by 2012. This defense package will provide South Africa, already Africa’s leading military power, with an even more robust capability that will far outstrip the capabilities of any other African military.

Outside of southern Africa, South Africa has limited influence on the continent. During apartheid, South Africa did not concern itself with regions outside of southern Africa. It had enough going on domestically and in the southern region, from deal-making in the mining sector to combating liberation-seeking insurgents and domestic political opponents. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa’s efforts to mediate conflicts in Africa, such as the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, have been blocked by countries such as Nigeria, which sees West Africa as its sphere of influence. South Africa has not even tried to mediate conflicts or become otherwise involved in the Horn of Africa.

West Africa and the Horn of Africa, however, are of great interest to AFRICOM. Securing access to energy assets in the Gulf of Guinea region is of core concern to Washington. This region includes Nigeria’s violent Niger Delta, where the Nigerian government has struggled to rein in militant groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. Combating terrorism in West Africa’s largely ungoverned and violent Sahel is another of AFRICOM’s core interests. Similarly, ensuring that Somalian territory in the Horn of Africa region does not fall prey to transnational jihadist fighters aiming to take advantage of that country’s weak government and vast ungoverned territory is a final AFRICOM priority. This goal follows up on previous U.S. achievements through operations of the Djibouti-based Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

While a decision has not yet been made on where to base AFRICOM — which will begin as a subcommand of European Command by October and stand up as a separate command by fall 2008 — a series of lily pad bases will be used to allow contingency operations in West Africa and the Horn of Africa. Administrative priorities aside, a single meaningful location for troop basing will be ruled out in deference to twin fears. One is the concern in Washington about committing large numbers of U.S. troops far from a sphere of core U.S. interests. The second is a fear held by African governments and populations that U.S. troops will serve as a colonizing power there.

Compared to other regional commands, AFRICOM will have a much more fluid, dynamic structure emphasizing civil-military cooperation. Under this framework, and to deflect criticism of imperialism, AFRICOM will work with other U.S. government agencies and with African militaries to build up local capacities to respond to humanitarian crises in addition to combating terrorism.

South Africa’s limited influence outside southern Africa means Pretoria cannot be expected to block the bilateral agreements under which the United States will secure AFRICOM basing privileges. Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, whose nation enjoys a very close relationship with the United States, has been the most persistent African promoter of AFRICOM. Sao Tome and Principe and the Malabo archipelago of Equatorial Guinea are two possibilities for AFRICOM basing in the Gulf of Guinea region. And Manda Bay, on Kenya’s east coast, and continuing operations at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti and in Ethiopia will figure into AFRICOM’s Horn of Africa activities.

Strategy and enforced circumstances thus will result in a small but flexible AFRICOM footprint in a limited number of locations in West Africa and the Horn of Africa, something that does not directly clash with South African interests. Less pressing AFRICOM priorities in southern Africa resulting in the U.S. command’s focus being directed elsewhere removes a possible major rival to South Africa’s return as the dominant power in southern Africa.

Other potential rivals remain, however, and are contributing to South Africa’s prickly posture. China is such a potential rival, which prompted Mbeki to warn that Africa must guard against a neocolonial relationship with Beijing. South Africa also is keeping a close eye on Angola. Historically, Pretoria has had a conflicted relationship with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, Angola’s ruling party. Flush with energy and diamonds, Angola also no longer faces an imminent insurgency to distract it. That combination of circumstances means Pretoria is keeping a close watch on Angola’s behavior in neighboring Zimbabwe and the DRC, which in turn means Pretoria must ensure that it remains fully capable of maneuvering in southern Africa.

http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=294869&selected=Analyses

Meanwhile Botswana is ready forAfricom should stakeholders agree …


Daily News does not publish on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Please email your comments to DailyNews@gov.bwFrom 6 July 2006, a graphic version of current edition is available at the Daily News Online web site.


Govt to decide on AFRICOM
06 September, 2007

GABORONE – Government will listen to everyone before making a decision on a proposal by the United States to set up an African Command (AFRICOM) in Botswana.President Festus Mogae said Botswana, like any other, has been approached to host AFRICOM, but is yet to decide.We have listened, asked questions and we will continue asking more questions as we do not yet know what this animal will be like.

He was responding to a question from academic, Dr Kesitegile Gobotswang, after delivering a public lecture at the University of Botswana on Tuesday.

It was part of the UBs 25th anniversary activities.

He said they have heard different viewpoints from academics, individuals and the news media and they would take them into consideration before reaching a conclusion.

We are also not the only country where objections were raised, other countries had to retract from the idea of hosting AFRICOM after threats from their Islamic groups, Mr Mogae said …

http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20070906&i=Govt_to_decide_on_AFRICOM

We at the Zambian Chronicle did mention that African Leaders are like that, we may need to learn never to talk on others behalf because they might say they are with you and when push comes to shave, you remain alone … thanks a trillion.

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President HE Levy P Mwanawasa SC. was quoted to have said “… each country had its own sovereignty to decide on any matter and Zambia would not allow the establishment of a military base in the country … as Zambia, we will not be giving sanctuary and I think I can speak on behalf of the SADC region that none of us is interested …” 

This was in response to a question as to whether Zambia would welcome the offer from the United States of America to move AFRICOM’s headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Zambia under the command of General Ward. The president is believed to have said this before boarding his Challenger Jet for the official opening of the Trade Fair in Swaziland.General William E. “Kip” Ward Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command

General William E. (Kip) Ward is currently Deputy Commander, Headquarters US European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. 

USEUCOM is responsible for the day to day operational activities for US forces operating across 92 countries in Europe, Africa, Russia, parts of Asia and the Middle East, the Mediterranean and most of the Atlantic Ocean.

He (General Ward) was commissioned into the Infantry in June 1971.  His military education includes the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, US Army Command and General Staff College, and US Army War College. 

He holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelors of Art Degree in Political Science from Morgan State University. His military service has included overseas tours in Korea, Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia, Israel, two tours in Germany, and a wide variety of assignments in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

According to the official press release from the Pentagon last month, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) foremost mission is to help Africans achieve their own security, not to extend the scope of the war on terrorism or secure African resources, a top Pentagon official said.

“The United States spends approximately $9 billion a year in Africa, funding programs in such areas as health, development, trade promotion, and good governance,” Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, told members of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa and global health recently.

“In contrast, security-related programs receive only about $250 million a year.”AFRICOM will play a supportive role as Africans continue to build democratic institutions and establish good governance across the continent, she said. “Our security cooperation with Africa is one aspect of our collaboration with Africa, but it is a small part of our overall relationship,” she added.

The Defense Department currently divides responsibility for Africa among three combatant commands: European Command, Pacific Command and Central Command.

AFRICOM, slated to stand up in October, is a three-pronged defense, diplomatic and economic effort designed to enable U.S. government elements to work in concert with African partners without the “bureaucratic divisions” created by a shared command structure, Whelan said.

But why the hostility towards AFRICOM?

Whelan addressed the “many misconceptions” about AFRICOM’s structure and purpose.

“Some people believe that we are establishing AFRICOM solely to fight terrorism or to secure oil resources or to discourage China. This is not true,” she said. Though violent extremism is “a cause for concern and needs to be addressed,” countering this threat is not AFRICOM’s singular mission, she said.

“Natural resources represent Africa’s current and future wealth, but in an open-market environment, many benefit,” she continued. “Ironically, the U.S., China, and other countries share a common interest — that of a secure environment in Africa, and that’s AFRICOM’s objective.“AFRICOM is about helping Africans build greater capacity to assure their own security,” she added.

The United States does not seek to compete with or discourage African leadership and initiative, Whelan said. Rather, AFRICOM will benefit it its partners on the continent prevent security issues from escalating without U.S. intervention.

“U.S. security is enhanced when African nations themselves endeavor successfully to address and resolve emerging security issues before they become so serious that they require considerable international resources and intervention to resolve,” she said.

U.S. Africa Command also will support other U.S. agencies in implementing other programs that promote regional stability, Whelan noted, calling AFRICOM an “innovative command.”

Unlike other commands, AFRICOM will be staffed by a large number of State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development members, including a senior Foreign Service officer to serve as the military commander’s civilian deputy. This deputy will plan and oversee the majority of AFRICOM’s security-assistance work, she said.

Are the reasons for rebuffing the offer valid?

We are sure that the president and his advisors have looked at this issue with different eyes and are probably right in their assertions but the issue of speaking for SADC and or on behalf of others in the Sub-Saharan region is what led Zambia into poverty once.

President Kenneth Kaunda despite so many accolades made serious mistakes by believing that all other heads of state in the Non-Aligned Movement were on the same page. For instance, while Kaunda declared sanctions against South Africa, Botswana and Namibia were trading freely with the Boers but always wore a different face when in his company. Their economies thrilled and ours suffered.

It is common knowledge that most African leaders tend to discourage each other in public about such offers while in the dark of the night make arterial overtures at respective US embassies when no one is watching. We would not even be surprised if other nations were in the forefront discouraging Zambia, all the while eagerly waiting for such an offer themselves.

But why Zambia? Because it already has initial capacity …

It is currently common knowledge that the newly elected Liberian president has been heavily lobbying the US State Department so the US can establish the AFRICOM in her country.

However, the US government thinks that Liberia may not be the best fit since its population is unskilled and the transition may take longer due to human resource reasons while Zambia is very favorable in every aspect feasible. When it comes to the issue sovereignty, we are hoping that the president simply misspoke.

The largest military base in Europe is in Germany and that country has the third largest economy in the world. Former Chancellor Schroeder was a serious opponent of the Iraq invasions even.

Japan houses the largest US base in Asia Pacific – Guam, it is the world’s second largest economy and is usually very vocal against the United States as can be proven with the Kyoto Agreement. South Korea has US military base and still a sovereign nation. Eight of the world’s most prosperous nations house US military bases and are very sovereign.

Is the Xenophobia China centric?

Could be … China is investing heavily on the continent and its investments are taking other developed nations by storm. It is believed that by 2009, the Chinese economy could surpass Germany’s making it the third largest in the world.

With China’s huge demand for natural resources, it is investing now so that it can have a greater steak when it comes time to control means of production and could be in the forefront of propagandizing for its national interest.The United States on the other hand is very interested in Africa as well. It is believed that almost 25% of oil and gas to that country will be coming from Africa soon. This is a very important economic apparatus for the world’s largest economy. Overall, if you are going to spend $9 billion a year of your own money for humanitarian purposes, you would want to keep an eye on it … Our suggestion to the president is that he looks at this proposal with an open mind, other African leaders could be saying all they can because of nothing but jealous. They could be doing things that are derogatory because they were not asked first and China could be worried that with AFRICOM housed in Zambia, it might not be able to exploit the Zambian workers the way it like to …

As for our sovereignty, we are a sovereign nation; no one can take that away from us, and we really aren’t offering sanctuary to the Americans, they can do a lot of things without our permission if they wanted to.

They already own 9 out of 10 deep space technology stations around the world; they are the world’s indispensable super power and it is no wonder European leaders first visit the US immediately after they are elected.

When Angela Merkel became the German Chancellor, guess where she went first after her victory, when Nicolas Sarkozy won the French presidency this summer he went to the United States before taking his victory tour holiday. Tony Blair’s successor Gordon Brown went to Camp David even before he issued his desire to work with HE Levy P Mwanawasa, SC.

Whether we like it or not, AFRICOM will be established in Africa somewhere, that somewhere better be Zambia and if not, why not? US Commands are already in place on three continents in different sovereign nations.

AFRICOM comes with added value to our enterprise and the economic benefits as well as prestige derived therefrom surpasses all else; that’s the memo from the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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(below in the comment line is an except from Dr Wafula Okumu Head, African Security Analysis Program, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa, testimony given to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, “Africa Command: Opportunity for Enhanced Engagement or the Militarization of U.S.-Africa Relations?” August 2, 2007)