13 April 2011
South Africa is ready to tackle any challenges it may confront as it joins the BRICS grouping of influential developing countries, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Speaking to BuaNews at the Hilton Sanya Resort and Spa ahead of the third BRICS Leaders Meeting, starting on Thursday, Nkoana-Mashabane said: “While elated, we are aware of the responsibilities that come with this big opportunity, but also that if there are challenges, we are prepared to tackle them within the grouping.”
She said that joining the BRICS grouping would allow South Africa to deepen dialogue and share co-operation with emerging giants Brazil, Russia, India and China, particularly in the areas of political and economic development.
But she cautioned that South Africa’s membership of the BRICS grouping did not necessarily mean South Africa was a future global power, saying this was not for South Africa to “judge”.
However, South Africa would continue to involve itself in any efforts to further peace in Africa and the world, and to tackle poverty in South Africa and globally, which represented the interests of not only emerging nations, but also helped to create a more equitable world.
Nkoana-Mashabane also said that South Africa was at the summit of its own volition following an invitation from the other BRICS members, and was not there to represent Africa, as it did not have the mandate to do this.
But she said Africa as a whole would certainly benefit from South Africa being a part of BRICS, particularly in areas such as economic integration, trade and investment, and improving good governance.
With the continent recognised as a growing region, Africa could expect to benefit economically in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure, IT and food security.
Added to this, South Africa’s inclusion in the grouping would also help Africa to benefit from more equitable world governance bodies.
“BRICS’ push for the reform of global institutions of governance and the UN will ensure that African issues enjoy centre-stage in deliberations within the UN Security Council, the IMF and the World Bank,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The fact that all the BRICS nations were part of the UN Security Council – with South Africa, Brazil and India being non-permanent members, while China and Russia were permanent members – would make it easier to push for the reform of these global institutions, she said.
Critics say the IMF and World Bank are controlled by richer countries as votes are effectively allocated according to the amount of funding made by each country to these institutions, which diminishes the power of developing nations at these bodies.
Added to this, the same five permanent members of UN Security Council – namely the US, China, Russia, France and the UK – have held sway over the UN, with the ability to veto UN decisions, since the body’s formation in 1945.