Sovereignty refers to a nation’s ability to govern itself without interference from external sources and it is on this basis that states are founded. Colonialism interfered with this status and strangers usurped authority from pre-existing local structures. They established governing institutions to administrate the local polity. External administration was oppressive and this led to the establishment of movements to agitate for independence and assert their sovereignty over their territories. South Africa achieved its independence as the Union of South Africa in 1910. However, the country was subjected to apartheid which officially ended in 1994 with the first universal suffrage elections. Although South Africa became a unified country it also came to experience the murky situation of international politics and the systematic undermining of its sovereignty.
Factors limiting sovereignty in South Africa have been seen to originate from external institutions. However it is also important to recognize the role of local individuals and groups in the support of the prevailing condition. Racism, International financial institutions, international judicial bodies such as the ICC and local politics have been identified as some of the factors that are actively limiting South Africa’s sovereignty.
Financial institutions have been accused of interfering with the country’s sovereignty by influencing the Rand’s value. Two financial institutions have been mentioned in the conspiracy to undermine the Rand and these are; Barclays Bank Africa Plc, its subsidiary Amalgamated Banks of South Africa ABSA and Goldman Sachs. The ANC Youth League through its spokesperson indentified a repeat of the situation in 2001-2002 to the current 2015-2016 situation where strong international financiers are systematically interfering with the local currency. The situation is expected to interfere with the ability of the government in making decisions. The group points to a withdrawal of capital occasioned by selling the Rand in the international money markets. This has also been connected to racism where Young Caucasians are accused of selling the Rand whenever extreme announcements are made pointing to Africa.
South Africa has accused the ICC for undermining the country’s sovereignty especially after the Omar Al-Bashir debacle that led the ICC to demand explanations from South Africa’s government. South Africa’s government is more worried about ICC’s political implications. This is because the body can be manipulated by powerful countries represented in the UN Security Council and who are not members of ICC, the United States being a case in point. These countries have the power to put off and commence cases against other countries. This situation has been seen to create an environment rife for the powerful countries to interfere with other nations, further limiting their sovereignty.
Local politics has also been identified as a factor that limits the country’s sovereignty. Political differences have at times been played out on the international stage. The government’s ability to make decisions has been curtailed and the institution has been forced to submit to local and international political pressure by different parties. Unspecified actions have been used to intimidate the government into making decisions acceptable to these local forces who seek assistance from their international partners to pressurize the government. Such was the case in the recent appointments of the finance minister with the president’s choice of Van Rooyen, who only served for four days before being replaced by Pravin Gordhan.