SA ready to tackle Brics challenges - Nkoana-Mashabane

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sanya, China - South Africa is ready to tackle any challenges it may confront as it joins the Brics grouping, Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said today (Tuesday) ahead of Thursday's Brics summit in Sanya.

"While elated, we are aware of the opportunities that come with this big responsibility but also that if there are challenges, we are prepared to tackle them within the grouping," said Nkoana-Mashabane, speaking to BuaNews at the Hilton Sanya Resort and Spa.

She said joining the Brics grouping would allow South Africa to deepen dialogue and share co-operation with fellow emerging giants Brazil, Russia, India and China, particularly in the areas of political and economic development, 

But she cautioned that South Africa's membership in the Brics grouping did not necessarily signal South Africa's ascendancy to a future global power, saying this was not for South Africa to "judge".

However, she added that South Africa would continue to strive to involve itself in any efforts that furthered peace in Africa and the world, tackled 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 cautioned that South Africa was not at the summit representing Africa, as it did not have the mandate to do so, pointing out that South Africa was there on its own volition.

But she said Africa as a whole would indeed benefit from South Africa being part of Brics, particularly in areas such as economic integration, trade and investment and improving good governance.

Nkoana-Mashabane said with the continent recognised as a growing region, Africa could, however, 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 the 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," she 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. - BuaNews