New ASC Infosheet: Pivoting to Russia, China and anti-Western rhetoric: South Africa’s foreign policy shifts

Zuma and Putin
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Vladimir Putin of Russia attended China’s victory parade on 3 September 2015. The parade celebrated the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender at the end of the Second World War. The leaders of the US, Japan and the UK said they would not attend because they were concerned about a show of military force at a time of regional tensions.
Zuma’s visit reflected a broader shift in South Africa’s foreign policy in favour of China and Russia. The clear pivot towards China and Russia during Zuma’s presidency (2009-present) differs sharply from the more balanced multipolar approach under Nelson Mandela’s presidency (1994-1999).

This is ASC Infosheet nr 27. Read the full text. 

Contact person: Mayke Kaag, African Studies Centre Leiden

Author(s) / editor(s)

Heinrich Matthee

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Dr Heinrich Matthee works at JISR, meaning 'bridge' in Arabic. This is an independent strategic advisory company focused on markets in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. His e-mail address:

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