Southern Africa

South Africa

20 years after the first free and democratic elections in 1994, South Africa remains the most successful economic power on the continent.  But is also faces a huge wealth inequality gap, high unemployment and crime rates, and increasing corruption. The most recent development in South Africa was characterised by extended strikes, especially in mining and industry, which accounted for the comparatively small economic growth. In the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2014, several new political parties had emerged. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) won the parliamentary elections on 7 May 2014 with 62.1% (2009 65.9%) of the votes. The focus of South Africa's foreign policy is still on Arica, with politicians involved in mediation efforts in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Sudan/South Sudan in particular. Military and political involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been stepped up.

In December 2013, the first President (1994 – 1998) of democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela died. His death was marked by a period of national  mourning.


After several years of democratic crisis, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in the second half of 2013; Hery Rajaonarimampianina was elected president of the country and order under constitutional law was restored.


Filipe Nyusi, FRELIMO candidate, won 57 % of the votes at the presidential election held in October 2014 and assumed the office as head of state on January 15th, 2015. The election took place on the basis of a memorandum signed between the government (FRELIMO) and the opposition (RENAMO) in September 2014, which ended the armed conflict in the central region Sofala. Since independence, FRELIMO has been in power without interruption and is therefore well established in all government structures and media. Despite the global economic crisis, Mozambique experienced average yearly growth rate of 7 % to 8 %. Due to lower commodity prices and budgetary constraints , Mozambique is facing economic difficulties. Bilateral relations exist since 1976 and are focussed on development cooperation. However, economic growth has led to an increased interest in enhancing bilateral trade and investment.


General elections held on August 23rd 2017 were won by MPLA, the governing party. As a result of the elections’ outcome and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the MPLA presidential candidate João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço was automatically selected as the new President. The elections were passed without major incidents and were – to a large extent - assessed positively by international observers. The new President’s main challenges are reforming the economy, the fight against corruption and clientelism, and a reform of the security apparatus.


Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Zimbabwe in July 2013. This followed the adoption of a new constitution (agreed by the parties of the Government of National Unity) supported by the majority of voters in a referendum in March. According to the official election outcome, long-standing President Robert Mugabe (ZANU party) won 61 percent of the votes. While the election process was peaceful, many election observers (AU, SADC), the opposition and civil rights groups claimed that there had been irregularities. In light of President Mugabe’s advanced age a fight about succession ensued within ZANU-PF. Two factions have emerged during this two year long power struggle : that of the young guard, the so-called Generation 40 (G40) around the political commissioner Saviour Kasukuwere, who is openly supported by the President’s wife, Grace Mugabe, and that of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa (the so-called Team Lacoste), who has the backing of the security apparatus. Despite his age, Robert Mugabe has been chosen as the ZANU-PF presidential candidate for the election in 2018.