/ 22 August 2023

Xi touches down, Pandor says Brics not competing with G7

Brics Xi Jinping
President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed Chinese president Xi Jinping at the OR Tambo airport late on Monday night. Photo: South African Presidency

South Africa’s international relations minister, Naledi Pandor, said on Monday night that the Brics bloc was not in competition with the G7, and instead wanted to establish its own place in the world, which it was achieving “rapidly”. 

She was speaking at a gala dinner hosted by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum.  

Also on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed China’s President Xi Jinping to South Africa ahead of the Brics summit. China is the country’s biggest trading partner in the bloc. 

Xi is the second of the Brics leaders to arrive in the country this week. Brazil’s Lula da Silva arrived earlier on Monday. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia’s foreign minister will arrive on Tuesday, with the Brics summit expected to commence later in the day. 

Ramaphosa will host at least 50 heads of state and their ministries this week in what is expected to be a historic summit for Africa. 

More than 20 countries in the global south are showing interest in joining Brics. 

Pandor said Brics had been a pioneer in ensuring women take on substantive roles in the bloc, as evidenced by the appointment of Brazil’s former president, Dilma Vana Rousseff, as president of the New Development Bank (known as the Brics bank). Rousseff was elected unanimously by the bank’s board of governors in March. 

“This is why we don’t compare ourselves to anyone else, and [instead] serve as a catalyst for sustained and mutually beneficial growth and sustainable development, as well as driving inclusion of Africa and the global south in the world systems in their widest definition. 

“Throughout the work in Brics it is our intention to advance alignment with the African Union’s agenda 2063 as the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We will continue to be responsive to the needs and concerns of the broader global south, while ensuring that we do not leave the African continent,” Pandor said. 

South Africa has proposed a recommitment by Brics member states to strengthen and reform the multilateral system of global governance.

“A strategic discussion is going to take place amongst us as Brics members on how to enhance multilateralism and advance the reform of multilateral institutions. You are all aware of a steady erosion of trust and competition between states, which is weakening the ability of the international community to work together to address shared challenges. The obstacles we are facing include growing unilateral geopolitical rivalries, inconsistent compliance with and, at times, blatant violations of international law, and the application of double standards,” she said.

Pandor said there was proliferation of alternative forums and parallel processes outside of established multilateral processes, where decisions were being taken among the few, disenfranchising the many, and diverting attention away from the non-delivery of multilateral commitments.

She said political will was required to strengthen multilateralism. South Africa has, over the years, called for the UN Security Council to be more inclusive. The debate on the UN’s resistance to expand so that developing countries can become permanent members will be discussed at the summit. 

There will also be several programmes to foster collaboration between the Brics countries and other African nations. 

And the Brics business forum will present a report and deliver statements reflecting on its economic relations. 

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa will host Brics heads of state at a retreat and discuss “contemporary issues of importance”, Pandor said. 

A closed plenary will take place on Wednesday and on Thursday, Ramaphosa will host a dialogue between the African heads of states and the Brics bloc. 

“This a significant moment for the global south and advancing our collective interests on the global stage and being the chief architects in seeking to catalyse a new global order, that is multipolar, multilateral, inclusive, fair, just and representative of all our human family,” said Pandor.