South Africa's foreign policy, conducted in an ad hoc and haphazard fashion under President Nelson Mandela, has been consolidated under the presidency of Thabo Mbeki. This article first outlines five consistent policy themes: Africa and Africanist; democracy and respect for human rights; a holistic understanding of security; a pacific approach to conflict resolution; and multilateralism. The article then identifies and attempts to explain a number of significant inconsistencies in relation to these themes, including Mbeki's ‘quiet diplomacy’ on Zimbabwe; his denialist position on HIV/AIDS; South Africa's controversial arms procurement programme; and its domestic xenophobia. Some of these inconsistencies have undermined the country's international credibility and at times overhshadowed its considerable achievements.
International Affairs (2005) 81 (2) 361-372 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2005.00455.x]