Promoting Dialogue on South Africa's Regional Integration Role in Southern Africa

The main focus of the two public dialogues – “South Africa’s Corporate Expansion in Southern Africa”, and “Powerful Trade Unions: South African Drivers of Regional Economic Growth?” – interrogated the political economy of Southern Africa and discussed the role of South Africa’s regional corporate expansion, as well as the role of trade unions in Southern Africa; with a view to promoting socio-economic benefits through industrialization, effecting regional trade, and boosting infrastructural development. In both dialogues, the role of the state in becoming a modern industrial democracy was considered critical for promoting intra-regional trade, and for building regional industrialization that can improve labour in Southern Africa. However, the growth model that Southern African states are promoting follows a line of reasoning that says “grow first, and regional integration will follow”. This model appears to be flawed, since 35 per cent of the region’s 281 million citizens are still unemployed, and levels of inequality have not diminished; in fact, they are growing.