Dr. Emmanuel Matambo

Dr. Emmanuel Matambo

CACS Visiting Research Fellow

Programme: People-to-People Relations


Brief Professional Biography

Emmanuel Matambo began his tertiary experience at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in 2009 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (magna cum laude) in philosophy in 2011. He later went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal for an honours degree in political science. He graduated (summa cum laude) in 2014. His interest in China-Africa relations emerged after his honours degree. His dissertation for a Master of Social Science degree was based on China-South Africa relations. His doctorate dissertation, also done at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was a constructivist analysis of Sino-Zambian relations. While he has published academic articles on a range of topics from conflict resolution, contemporary terrorism, educational theory and African agency, his main interest is on the growing China-Africa relationship.

Selected Publications

Matambo, E. 2018. Formal against Indigenous and Informal Education in sub-Saharan Africa: The Battle of no Winners. Indilinga: African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems, 17(1): 1-13.

Makanda, J., Matambo, E. and Mncibi, V. 2018. The Syrian Conflict and “Women Terrorists” Contemporary Arab Affairs, 11(1-2): 1–17.

Phiri, S. and Matambo, E. 2017. Foreign Intervention Predicament in Africa: Deploying Fanonian Psychoanalysis. Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, 10(9): 322-338.

Onwuegbuchulam, S. P. C., Matambo, E. and Mtshali, K. 2017. Idolatrous Faith as the Accelerant of Contemporary Religious Terrorism: A Theologico-Constructionist Perspective. Ubuntu: Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation, 6(1): 101-119.

Matambo, E. and Mtshali, K. 2016. The Relevance of Emmanuel Hevi: China in Contemporary Sino-African Relations. Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, 9(4): 219-237.

Ani, N. C. and Matambo, E. 2016. “African Solutions” in Chains: External and Internal Causes of Africa’s Continued Dependency Fifty Years On. Journal of African Union Studies, 5(1): 83-111.

Matambo, E. and Ani, N. C. 2015. Endorsing Intellectual Development in South Africa’s Affirmative Action. Journal of Third World Studies, 22(1): 273-291.


‘Implications of the China-Africa Nexus,from the perspective of state- and non-state actors: A Constructivist Review of South Africa and Zambia’s relations with China’

While China has relations with African countries, save for the Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland), it is illogical to generalise the type of relations that China has with individual African countries. I propose research that will mainly focus on Zambia-China and South Africa-China relations. Zambia and China have had one of the most enduring but also fascinating relations that have had a curious mixture of cordial and dangerous episodes. While Zambian governments since 1964 have been optimistic about China-Zambia relations, opposition parties, civil society organisations, Zambia’s labour force and ordinary citizens have not been as optimistic. This brings into question whether ruling parties in Zambia have an authentic optimism about China-Zambia relations or that they are forced to embrace this relationship based on expediency, resignation and the general position of international diplomacy. Thus, the research I intend to undertake will accentuate the impressions of non-state actors on the deepening synergy between China and Zambia.

In addition, I also propose to delve into the details and implications of China-South Africa relations. Established over twenty years ago, relations between China and South Africa have grown and in addition to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, South Africa has the distinction of being the only African country to be part of BRICS, an organisation that comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. These countries represent the foremost emerging economies. China-South Africa relations are likely to impact on the rest of Africa. It is thus important to try and discern the nature of China-South Africa relations with the intention of pointing out aspects that enhance and those that stifle mutual development. Again, it is important to garner the insights of non-state actors and especially ordinary citizens for whom the consequences of China-South Africa relations will be more readily felt.

Theoretical Underpinnings

The theoretical approach that will inform my research is constructivism. In international relations theory, constructivism is an approach that argues that relations among nations are shaped by ideas rather than material forces. Constructivism argues that national identities and interests emerge out of social practice which could be influenced by both domestic and foreign circumstances (Chan 2014). The proposed research has noted the importance of the impression of non-state actors in influencing relations at the state level. Hitherto, constructivism has mainly been used to analyse relations from the level of the state (e.g. see Wendt 1994). The current research will make a departure from this inclination and will make use of a brand of constructivism that considers how non-state actors construct national norms, identities and interests. Even though they have mounted a formidable challenge of time-honoured international relations theories such as realism, constructivists have not successfully responded to the emerging influence that non-state actors have on international relations. South Africa and Zambia have made strides in entrenching democracy and hence ruling parties owe their reigns to ordinary citizens. In this context, ruling parties are compelled to hearken to the tastes of their citizens.

In Zambia, more than South Africa, citizens have been more vocal and hostile towards China and the Zambian government has had a struggle to defend China-Zambia relations and pacify a restive and critical citizenry. The research will proceed from the assumption that constructions of national identity, even when they are constructed by non-state actors, have the potential to influence relations at the national level. A constructivist bent of the sort that I propose is in tandem with the changing dynamics of China-Africa relations. Before the end of the Cold War, most of the Chinese who were coming to Africa did so at the behest of the Chinese government. However, after 1990, there has been an increase in Chinese citizens coming to Africa under private auspices rather than as agents of the Chinese government. The anti-Chinese sentiment that has been a feature in China-Zambia relations has been mainly directed at Chinese employers and immigrants in Zambia rather than at China at state level. This, therefore, calls for a theoretical approach that takes the social relations of non-state actors from China, South Africa and Zambia into cognizance.

Data Collection

I will make use of primary as well as secondary data. Primary data will be gathered through interviews, focus group discussions, primary literature and visual material. Ideally, data collection will be done in South Africa, Zambia and China. This, of course, will be dictated by the availability of resources. I will gather secondary data from published material. I also intend to cite more literature that is of African provenance.

Tentative Research Output

  • Two journal articles;
  • At least two accompanying op-ed publications in the popular press;
  • Participation in conferences that fall within the purview of China-Africa relations;
  • I am also poised to attend and deliver lectures pertaining to the subject at hand.


Adem, S. 2010. The Paradox of China’s Policy in Africa. African and Asian Studies, Vol.9, No.3, pp. 334-355.

Ampiah, K and Naidu, S. eds. 2008. Introduction. In Ampiah, K and Naidu, S. eds. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Africa and China. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 1-19.

Anshan, L. 2007. China and Africa: Policy and Challenges. China Security. 3(3): 69-93.

Atwi-Boateng, O. 2017. New World Order Neo-Colonialism: A Contextual Comparison of Contemporary China and European Colonization in Africa. Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies. 10(2): 177-195.

Chan, S. 2014. Capturing China’s International Identity: Social Evolution and Its Missing Links. The Chinese Journal of International Politics, 7(2): 261–281. Available: https://doi.org/10.1093/cjip/pou030  (Accessed 10 November 2018).

Glaser, C. 2011. Will China’s Rise Lead to War? Foreign Affairs, 90(2): 80-91.

Muekalia, D. 2004. Africa and China’s Strategic Partnership. Africa Security Review, 13(1):5–11.

Mwamba, E. 2018. China-Zambia: An Intricate Relationship. The Zambian Observer, 16 September. Available: https://www.zambianobserver.com/emmanuel-mwamba-zambia-china-an-intricate-relationship/ (Accessed 9 November 2018).

Naidu, S. and Mbazima, D. 2008. China–African relations: A new impulse in a changing continental landscape. Futures, 40(8): 748-761.

Ndulo, M. 2008. Chinese Investment in Africa: A Case Study of Zambia. In Ampiah, K and Naidu, S. eds. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Africa and China. Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 138-151.

Negi, R. 2008. Beyond the “Chinese Scramble”: The Political Economy of Anti-China Sentiment in Zambia, African Geographical Review, 27(1), 41-63. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19376812.2008.9756209 (Accessed 26 January 2017).

Oshodi, T. Sino-Pessimism versus Sino-Optimism: Which Way for Chinese Africana? Available: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tobi_Oshodi/publication/272623968_SinoPessimism_versus_SinoOptimism_Which_Way_for_Chinese_Africana/links/554cc53f0cf29752ee801d2c.pdf (Accessed 8 November 2018).

Segal, G., 1992. China and Africa. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 519(1): 115-126.

Snow, P. 1988. The Star Raft: China’s Encounter with Africa. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Wendt, A. 1994. Collective Identity Formation and the International State. The American Political Science Review, 88(2): 384-396.