1 minute read
3 Apr 2014
9:00 am

Zuma’s EU snub is short-sighted

President Jacob Zuma's decision to boycott the European Union (EU)-Africa summit in Brussels may earn him kudos among the likes of Robert Mugabe, but it is short-sighted.

Mugabe is not there because his wife was refused a visa. Another shopping trip ruined. Zuma told the SABC, “that time must pass wherein we are looked on as subjects, we are told who must come, who must not come”.

While this has been interpreted as expressing solidarity with Mugabe, Zuma’s comment could also refer to Europe’s decision to invite Egypt, which is suspended from the AU, and Morocco, which is not a member. However, this is not an EU-AU summit. It specifically includes African countries outside the AU.

Although South Africa is represented by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and others, Zuma’s snub is a blow. South Africa is the EU’s main national strategic partner in Africa. While Zuma kowtows to China, the EU as a block remains South Africa’s biggest trading and investment partner.

Yet SA is losing its attraction as an investment destination. Zuma and Mugabe have not triggered an African boycott. Other countries, notably Nigeria, are gearing to trade places.