Colgate University Libraries


Andrew Eldredge


Why have South Africa and the U.S. adopted and maintained different foreign policy stances towards the crisis in Zimbabwe? This question is of particular importance due to the political, economic, and humanitarian implications of the Zimbabwean situation since 2000, the regional impact of the crisis, and the recent potential for positive developments under the newly established Zimbabwean unity government. Previous studies predominately concentrate on analyzing either the western or the regional approach towards Zimbabwe to the detriment of gaining a complete understanding of why these approaches have differed. This study builds upon the existing literature by employing a comparative approach to demonstrate the ways in which the U.S. and South Africa have varied towards Zimbabwe and the effect this variance has had on the crisis. Following field research and interviews in South Africa and Washington D.C., I trace the history of the crisis in Zimbabwe and discuss the external relations of the U.S. and South Africa towards Zimbabwe. The study identifies four main factors that explain the source of variance – differences in geographic proximity, hegemonic influence, interpretation of the source of the crisis, and the primary goal for engagement. In addition, the study argues that greater cooperation between the U.S. and South Africa on the issue would strengthen both states’ ability to effectively respond to the crisis. The report concludes with policy recommendations for how joint collaboration can be achieved to better influence positive change in Zimbabwe.