The role of national trade union organisations in South Africa’s foreign policy processes : 1999-2012

Graham, Clarissa Jane (2013-12)

Thesis (MA)-- Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The role and influence of interest groups and non-state actors in the foreign policy process remains an interesting topic for debate. This study explores the role of three South African trade union organisations, COSATU, FEDUSA and Solidariteit, in the foreign policy process of South Africa. It asks what role these trade union organisations played between 1999 and 2012 in the South African foreign policy process and what factors had a bearing on that role. The core argument of this study is that trade union organisations participate in creating public awareness of foreign policy issues among its members and the broader population. Through this role they, in turn, get involved in the foreign policy debate by promoting the participation of the masses. The dual approach of quantitative and qualitative content analysis of online news articles, statements and policy documents produced interesting results about the factors that motivate trade union interests in the South African foreign policy process. The main findings show that South African trade union organisations attempt to influence or engage in the economic and foreign policy processes when it affects their members. Their economic focus is on the extent to which economic factors have a bearing on how the macro-economic policy of the state favours the wealth and development of its citizens over the financial gain of international investors. Interesting findings are presented by the political factors that have a bearing on trade union organisations‟ roles in the foreign policy process of South Africa. The results show that trade union organisations have an inherent interest in the strengthening of democratic values, governance and the protection of human rights. Similar to the analysis of economic factors, it was found that South African trade unions show a greater interest in foreign policy events or issues that affect trade unions or workers domestically or in other states. This can be attributed to the strong sense of solidarity among trade union organisations for greater representation in political and policy processes. The findings of this study imply that South African trade union organisations are part of a growing trend among non-state actors and domestic interest groups that take an interest in issues and events beyond national borders. The results of this study correspond with arguments made in existing literature that South Africa trade union organisations play a minimal role in the making of foreign policy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die rol en invloed van belangegroepe en niestaatsrolspelers in die vorming van buitelandse beleid bly 'n interessante onderwerp vir bespreking. Hierdie studie verken die rol van drie Suid-Afrikaanse vakbondorganisasies – Cosatu, Fedusa en Solidariteit – in die ontwikkeling van die land se buitelandse beleid. Dit ondersoek die rol wat hierdie organisasies tussen 1999 en 2012 in buitelandse beleid gespeel het, en die faktore wat daardie rol beïnvloed het. Die kernargument van hierdie studie is dat vakbondorganisasies hul lede sowel as die groter publiek van kwessies met betrekking tot buitelandse beleid help bewus maak. Deurdat hulle massadeelname aanmoedig, word die organisasies op hulle beurt by die debat oor buitelandse beleid betrek. Die dubbele benadering van kwantitatiewe én kwalitatiewe inhoudsontleding van aanlyn nuusberigte, verklarings en beleidsdokumente bring interessante resultate oor die redes vir vakbondbelangstelling in Suid-Afrikaanse buitelandse beleid aan die lig. Die hoofbevindinge toon dat Suid-Afrikaanse vakbondorganisasies die vorming van ekonomiese en buitelandse beleid probeer beïnvloed of daaraan deelneem wanneer dit hul lede raak. Ekonomies konsentreer hulle veral op die mate waarin die makro-ekonomiese beleid van die staat die welvaart en ontwikkeling van sy burgers bo finansiële gewin vir internasionale beleggers stel. Dit is egter veral die politieke beweegredes vir vakbonddeelname aan die land se buitelandse beleid wat insiggewende resultate oplewer. Die studie bevind dat vakbonde 'n inherente belang het by die versterking van demokratiese waardes en bestuur, en die beskerming van menseregte. Soos met die ekonomiese faktore, dui die ontleding van die politieke faktore ook daarop dat Suid-Afrikaanse vakbonde 'n groter belangstelling toon in gebeure of kwessies insake buitelandse beleid wat vakbonde of hul lede binnelands sowel as in ander state raak. Dít kan toegeskryf word aan die sterk samehorigheidsgevoel onder vakbondorganisasies om gesamentlik beter verteenwoordiging in politieke en beleidsprosesse te bekom. Die bevindinge van hierdie studie impliseer dat Suid-Afrikaanse vakbondorganisasies deel uitmaak van 'n toenemende tendens onder niestaatsrolspelers en binnelandse belangegroepe om al hoe meer in kwessies en gebeure buite landsgrense belang te stel. Die resultate van die studie ooreenstem met die argumente gestel in bestaande literatuur dat Suid-Afrikaanse vakbond organisasies ʼn beperkte rol binne buitelandse-beleidsmaking speel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/85684
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