This policy brief aimed to look at South Africa’s commitment to democracy and human rights in Africa, and to consider the drivers behind the often contradictory foreign-policy positions taken by the government. It questions whether South Africa has been a successful norm entrepreneur in Africa. The paper also reflects on the crisis of expectations that South Africa finds itself in, having to balance its commitments to the rest of Africa while overcoming its own domestic challenges. South Africa has to operate in a continent marked by complex crises and weak institutions. Closer to home, its bilateral relations with its neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are complicated by domestic interests and obligations to support SADC financially. This matter raises many questions about South Africa’s leadership in the continent, and whether it can still be relied on to provide the moral and principled leadership it was once known for.