A study of intra-African relations : an analysis of the factors informing the foreign policy of Malawi towards Zimbabwe

Njoloma, Eugenio (2010) A study of intra-African relations : an analysis of the factors informing the foreign policy of Malawi towards Zimbabwe. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




There has been only limited scholarly analysis of Malawi’s foreign policy since its independence in 1964 with key texts focusing primarily on the early years of the new state. Perhaps due to its relatively small stature – economically, politically and militarily – in the region, very little attention has been paid to the factors informing Malawi’s apparently uncritical foreign policy response to the Zimbabwe crisis since it began in the late 1990s. This thesis addresses this deficit by locating its understanding of Malawi’s contemporary foreign policy towards Zimbabwe in the broader historical and contemporary context of bilateral relations between the two states and the multilateral forum of SADCC and SADC. It is argued that the Malawi’s long-standing quest for socio-economic development has forced it to manoeuvre a pragmatic but sometimes contentious foreign policy path. This was also evident until the end of the Cold War and the concomitant demise of apartheid in South Africa in the early 1990s. Malawi forged deliberate diplomatic and economic relations with the region’s white-ruled Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and South Africa in pursuit of its national economic interests while the majority of southern African states collectively sought the liberation of the region by facilitating the independence of Zimbabwe and countering South Africa’s apartheid and regional destabilization policies. In the contemporary era, there has been a convergence of foreign policy ambitions in the region and Malawi now coordinates its regional foreign policy within the framework of SADC, which itself prioritizes the attainment of socio-economic development. However, to understand Malawi’s response to the Zimbabwe crisis only in the context of SADC’s “quiet diplomacy” mediation efforts obscures important historically rooted socioeconomic and political factors that have informed relations between Malawi and Zimbabwe and which cannot, it is argued, be ignored if a holistic understanding of Malawi’s position is to be sought. This study argues that the nature of historical ties between Malawi and Zimbabwe and the role of Malawi’s leaders in driving its long-standing quest for socioeconomic development have not only informed its overall foreign policy behaviour in the region but underpin its contemporary relations with Zimbabwe.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Malawi, Foreign relations, Zimbabwe, Politics and government, Southern African Development Community
Subjects:J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Africa, Asia, Australia, etc) > Africa
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Political Studies and International Studies
ID Code:2116
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:14 Oct 2011 07:37
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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