Original Research

An Afrocentric critique of sub-state actors in South Africa’s foreign policy: Case of Limpopo province

Dominic Maphaka
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 8, No 1 | a359 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v8i1.359 | © 2020 Dominic Maphaka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 November 2019 | Published: 20 July 2020

About the author(s)

Dominic Maphaka, Department of Cultural and Political Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa

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Background: Foreign Policy-Making and implementation have traditionally been the domain of the central government.

Aim: This article uses Limpopo province as a test case to critique the role of Sub-state actors in South Africa’s foreign policy processes from an Afrocentric perspective. The main argument of this desktop article is that sub-state actors and non-state actors collaborate with central government, the main actor to make and effectively implement foreign policy.

Setting: It locates the involvement of the provinces in international relations by reference to the African experience prior to the arrival of colonisers.

Methods: This article employs Afrocentric qualitative research methodology as articulated by Asante (2007), Mazama (2001), Ntseane (2011) and Schreiber (2000) to provide a complete analysis and understanding of sub-state actor’s involvement in South Africa’s foreign policy, by using Limpopo province as a test case study.

Results: Limpopo province attracts trade and investment by marketing itself abroad. The province draws skills needed for human resource development by sending officials and students to institutions of higher learning abroad. Even though the province involvement in international relations is not without challenges. Included here are the MOUs that are stalling because of a lack of implementation strategy and skilled personnel, for example, those signed with its counterparts of Sweden, Italy and Cuba. Public participation in the FPM process is very limited because of a number of reasons.

Conclusion: This article recommends that the central government should deepen training, dialogue and exchange of ideas between national and provincial officials. In line with conditional grants that they receive, provinces should seek additional funds from the central government to improve, develop and deepen their engagement in international relations. Regular platforms accessible to public members should be established across the province.


Afrocentricity; actors; foreign policy; Limpopo province; South Africa.


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