Malema muses over SA's role in Brics

African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema on Friday questioned South Africa’s participation in the Brazil-India-China-SA (Brics) economic grouping, as well as China’s role in Africa.

“I’m still to be convinced what becomes the role of South Africa in Brics, or Bric, because those countries, both in terms of population and the size of their economies, we are nowhere close to those people,” he told a South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) dinner in Cape Town.

“And there is a problem we are committing [to] as South Africa which must be corrected and that one does not need a conference, it needs a decisive action,” he said.

He said an advert stating South Africa was the gateway to Africa should come to an end, because “it is just making us vulnerable”.

“People use us to get into Africa, take mineral resources raw as they are and leave South Africa, or Africa. The Chinese are number one in doing that.

“In South Africa, the good thing we appreciate about the Chinese, some of us, is that politically we are able to engage with them and politically we must be able to say to them you are going to trade with us on condition you comply [with] our laws and you don’t make political interferences.

“But, as things are now, we are not able, because they don’t just come and take our minerals raw as they are. They also bring labour. You are literally not getting anything out of Chinese involvement.

“They bring labour, after they bringing labour, they take the minerals. At least with the colonisers [of the past] they utilised our people, although the working conditions were not better,” he joked.

“But these ones, they don’t give you even labour. They just open a Chinese town on their arrival and then they provide everything,” he said.

He said South Africa had the potential to play a meaningful role in the economy of Africa.

‘We must not be a coloniser’
He said whereas the government was ready to play an active role as a state in the minerals and economic development of South Africa, this should be extended beyond the borders of South Africa. It was necessary to help African states to develop their own economies.

“We can go and invest in Africa. We can go and revive the economic activities of those African countries because we know that once we have resolved the economic crises of these different countries in Africa, then we have resolved the problem of the many, many unregistered unaccounted for foreigners who are in this country because of economic reasons.

“So, we think this role China is playing in Africa is the role that South Africa must play in Africa.

“And then, in playing that role, we must not be a coloniser, we must be a real invester. We must never seek to influence the politics and dynamics of these African states.

“Instead, we must go invest in those countries, grow their economies and know that, indeed, South Africa has contributed in African renaissance and economic development in African states. That’s what we seek to do, and we are all concerned about the involvement of China in this regard, Malema said.

“China has not done that yet in South Africa, because here we’ve got a tight government and regulations. And here it is not easy to just bring a truck full of Chinese to come and work here. They know that South Africa is not one of the playgrounds of the Chinese and them bringing their own people.

“We are told that we are part of Bric, now it’s called Brics with our involvement. We are still going to listen what contribution we are going to make.

“The only thing we are going to bring there is better political character ... other than that, they are just going to swallow us.

“We’ll just be a small country among the biggest economies and populations, and our contribution might be meaningless.

“I think, perhaps because these are just [the] latest developments, we are still to be educated by our leadership of the country on really what are the benefits of South Africa in its participation in Brics, ” Malema said. - Sapa

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