Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Region-Building in Africa: Progress, Problems and Prospects - Book Review

Saunders. C., Dzinesa, G. A. & Nagar, D. 2012. ‘Eds. Region Building in Southern Africa: Progress, Problems and Prospects. New York: Zed Books. 350 pages. ISBN 978 1 78032 I79 0 hb and or ISBN 978 I 78032 178 0 pb. Price not indicated.

The book under review is mostly a collection of papers from a four year project on ‘Peace-building’ in Africa that was spearheaded by the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), in Cape Town, South Africa. The book is titled Region-Building in Southern Africa: Progress, Problems and Prospects, and was edited by Chris Saunders, Gwinyayi A. Dzinesa and Dawn Nagar. This is an easy-to-read piece of work, and is tailored especially for those that are interested in understanding the southern African region, its challenges and dynamics. The book offers new perspectives on topical issues that are largely based on research, making it quite beneficial to policy makers, planners, business leaders and scholars. What appears on the cover page are several different pieces of a puzzle with each piece reflecting the flag of one particular southern African country. The pieces of the puzzle are then integrated, giving the reader a visual appreciation of the theme of the book - region building.

The book is divided into 5 parts, viz: historical legacy, governance and military security, economic integration, human security and external actors. It consists of sixteen chapters which were contributed by nineteen pan-African authors covering a wide range of issues from these scholars of diverse backgrounds.

The book sought to give an overview of efforts being made to foster regional integration in southern Africa. It provides an overview of attempts being made to harmonise policies among southern African states, align state activities to accelerate regional development, as well as deal with regional challenges in the political, economic and security spheres. This piece of work builds on previous research policy development as well as capacity building experiences. A key accomplishment of the book was to highlight southern Africa’s region-building challenges, while paying particular attention on the main actors that include Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Additionally, the book covers four key priority areas of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat: military security, food security, HIV and AIDS and governance. What makes this book different is that, while a vast amount of literature is already in existence on the subject of challenges faced by countries in the southern African region, not many books have focused specifically on the theme of region-building in the post-apartheid era. This therefore, makes the contribution of the volume to the discourse of region-building in southern Africa particularly unique. The usefulness of the book is further enhanced by the fact that deals with topical issues such as food security, migration, climate change as well as the role of development financial institutions in region building.

This publication is extremely comprehensive with well researched articles that will enrich the existing body of literature on regionalism. The publication is a must-read for all those who wish to better understand the southern Africa region and its dynamics. The book is worthy of inclusion in the bibliography resources of libraries across the world for the benefit of academics, development practitioners and politicians.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Odireleng Jankey
University of Botswana

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