REBUILDING, GROWING AND TRANSFORMING OUR ECONOMY

It is both an honour and privilege to be sharing some thoughts on the economic opportunities that our country presents to this August audience.

As the African National Congress, we are delighted that our government and country is hosting our friends from the People’s Republic of China and other BRICS member countries. Indeed, your presence and the success of the BRICS Summit represents a vote of confidence in our country and continent. It is our hope that our historical relationship will grow further with our country’s economy growing to enable us to surmount the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Distinguished guests, we are meeting here tonight to celebrate the ever-growing relationship between the peoples of China and South Africa. Our celebrations assumes even more significance as they take place against the backdrop of our country celebrating 100 years since the birth of our principled freedom fighter and global statesman and icon, the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Allow me also to acknowledge the fact that our country is also celebrating a centenary of our of the inspirational stalwart of our struggle against apartheid and for freedom and democracy, Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu. These two formidable leaders left a rich legacy of selflessness, moral uprightness and service to our people that continues to inspire us in our forward march to create a better life for all our people. In their tribute we will not only preserve and promote this legacy but will also ensure that the aspirations of our people as espoused in the Freedom Charter are realized.

Ladies and gentlemen, our country needs investment, both domestic and foreign, if we are to succeed in accomplishing this historic mission. It is however important that we make our country attractive if we are to be an investment destination of choice. We need to take practical steps to ensure that there is good governance across government and state-owned enterprises, fight against corruption and create a conducive environment that allows for higher rate of investment, amongst others.

It is against this backdrop that the leadership of the ANC has been hard at work since our last national conference galvanizing all role players to contribute towards rebuilding our country’s economy. Our work is informed and guided by the decisions taken and groundbreaking resolutions that aim to take our organization and our country were taken and adopted.

It is no surprise that we have recaptured the imagination of South Africans and are restoring the confidence of our people in the ANC whilst reigniting a positive mood across all sectors of our proud and resilient nation.

We are therefore reenergized as a movement to play our historic role of being the leader of society and parliament of our people. We are alive to the fact that we will have to reclaim this position through practical actions that demonstrate our commitment to the cause of total liberation and not just through proclamations and pronouncements.

Programme Director, allow me to to provide an overview of our priorities in order to provide a context for our interactions tonight. May I take liberty to confine my input on sone of the resolutions that were adopted that I believe will assist our counterparts from China in understanding our socioeconomic environment. These priorities, not in any specific order are:

Rebuilding, growing and transforming our economy

The ANC has taken a view to drive and promote economic transformation at its last conference. We have resolved to accelerate radical socio-economic transformation with the view to bring those of our people who have hitherto been kept on the periphery of the economy into the mainstream.

Ladies and gentlemen, the matter of transformation is a fundamental one that all of us must be seized with if we are to heal the wounds of the past. Of specific relevance as we talk transformation in the economic sector is the sad reality that the ownership of our economy is still skewed in favour of the minority with the majority trapped in the periphery. This situation is not sustainable and needs to change if we are to progress as a country. Given this context radical socioeconomic transformation will ensure that the “The People share in the Country’s Wealth”.

Good governance in SOEs

Given the economic morass our country finds itself in, the new leadership of the ANC has taken a decision to prioritize economic recovery. We are attending to issues that have been hampering growth with the view to realize higher levels of growth in the economy. We are giving urgent attention to the State-owned Enterprises (SEO’s) governance challenges with the appointment of new boards and competent and ethical executives being part of our drive to ensure that SOEs play their developmental role.

We will continue to take steps to fix all  SOEs as this will go a long way in contributing to growing the economy and creating jobs.

The mining charter

To provide context, radical transformation including on the economic front is a longstanding policy of the ANC. Since the advent of democracy in our country some 24 years ago, all efforts have been made to realize the dream of a better life for all our people. At an economic level, there are pieces of legislation and policies that aim at correcting the wrongs of the apartheid past by bringing the hitherto economically excluded into the mainstream.

The mining charter therefore should be viewed against this backdrop. Truth be told, the pace of economic transformation across most if not all sectors had been worryingly slow, mining included. Hence our government is taking decisive steps to accelerate the pace as per the resolutions of our 54th National Conference. The ongoing extensive consultations with stakeholders to hammer out a charter that will ensure accelerated transformation whilst making mining attractive to investors, sustainable and safe is a step in the right direction and we urge all stakeholders to participate in rebuilding our mining sector.

The fight against corruption and promotion of ethical leadership

Corruption is a scourge that must be uprooted from our society. The ANC is intensifying efforts to fight corruption. Amongst measures to fight corruption include establishment of commission of enquiries on state capture, investigation and prosecution of those responsible for various malfeasances and strengthening of mechanisms for the appointment of individuals to senior government positions, state owned entities and law enforcement agencies as this will improve transparency, prevent corruption and ensure adequate vetting of candidates.

To win this war, anti-corruption efforts within the state are being more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption are exposed and prosecuted. This also includes corruption, collusion and other criminal activity in the private sector, which are being fought with equal diligence, determination and vigour.

Distinguished guests, our country is open for business. There are a multiplicity of investment opportunities across various sectors including energy, mining, ICT and build environment that need to be seized.

The fact that our country has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa, while China has been the country’s biggest trading partner for nine years is an encouraging development that needs to be built on. We are indeed delighted that the two-way trade between our countries has grown to more than R500b as this represents more than 20 times what it was at the dawn of democracy in our country.

We encourage even more growth as foreign direct investment will contribute in no small measure to our efforts of creating a better life for all our people. President Ramaphosa has set our government a target to raise $100b of investment to rebuild our economy. Working together in the spirit of thuma mina, we will meet this target. Indeed, we have to work on our historic relationship to ensure that our countries grow their economies for the benefit of our people.

 

Cde Paul Mashatile is the Treasurer General of the African National Congress 

OUR COUNTRY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

As the African National Congress, we are delighted that our government and country are the member of BRICS and it is our hope that our relationship will grow our country’s economy to enable us to surmount the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The ever-growing relationship between the peoples of China and South Africa is even more significance as it take place against the backdrop of our celebrating 100 years since the birth of our principled freedom fighter and global statesman and icon, the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Our country is also celebrating a centenary of the inspirational stalwart of our struggle against apartheid and for freedom and democracy, Mama Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu.

These two formidable leaders left a rich legacy of selflessness, moral uprightness and service to our people that continues to inspire us in our forward march to create a better life for all. In their tribute we will not only preserve and promote this legacy but will also ensure that the aspirations of our people as espoused in the Freedom Charter are realized.

Our country needs investment, both domestic and foreign, if we are to succeed in accomplishing this historic mission. It is important that we make our country attractive if we are to be an investment destination of choice. We need to take practical steps to ensure that there is good governance across government and state-owned enterprises, fight against corruption and create a conducive environment that allows for higher rate of investment.

The leadership of the ANC has been hard at work since our last national conference galvanizing all role players to contribute towards rebuilding of our country’s economy. Our work is informed and guided by the decisions taken and ground breaking resolutions that aim to take our organization and our country forward. It is no surprise that we have recaptured the imagination of South Africans and are restoring the confidence of our people in the ANC whilst reigniting a positive mood across all sectors of our proud and resilient nation.

We are reenergized as a movement to play our historic role of being the leader of society and parliament of our people. We are alive to the fact that we will have to reclaim this position through practical actions that demonstrate our commitment to the cause of total liberation and not just through proclamations and pronouncements.

The ANC has taken a view to drive and promote economic transformation at its last conference. We have resolved to accelerate radical socio-economic transformation with the view to bring those of our people who have hitherto been kept on the periphery of the economy into the mainstream. The matter of transformation is a fundamental one that all of us must be seized with if we are to heal the wounds of the past.

As we talk transformation in the economic sector is the sad reality that the ownership of our economy is still skewed in favour of the minority with the majority trapped in the periphery. This situation is not sustainable and needs to change if we are to progress as a country. Given this context radical socioeconomic transformation will ensure that the “The People share in the Country’s Wealth”. 

Land or lack thereof talks to the dignity or lack thereof of a people. The conversation about land redistribution should be understood within a context of violent dispossession that was visited on our forebears. There is an urgent need for redress through correcting the wrongs of the apartheid past and embarking on land redistribution and agrarian reform as part of not only restoring the dignity of our people but also addressing land hunger whilst ensuring food security.

Our parliament has passed a motion to review Section 25 of our country’s Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. We are doing this to not only correct the wrongs of our cruel past but also to broaden access to land so as those who have historically been unable to own land and even use it for agricultural and other purposes are able to do so. Our decision does not mean that land will be taken from lawful owners and then lie fallow. We will ensure that the land is utilized productively so as there is food security and/or is used for other purposes including developing integrated human settlements.

Given the emotive nature of land, the ANC leadership is engaging farmers and other stakeholders to get buy-in into this all-important project of restoring the dignity of our people. Our parliament has also embarked on public participation drives to ensure that the outcomes of the review process are informed by the views and needs of all South Africans. We are appealing to all stakeholders to participate in this democratic process of reviewing one of the most important sections of our Constitution.

Corruption is a scourge that must be uprooted from our society. The ANC is intensifying efforts to fight corruption. Amongst measures to fight corruption include establishment of commission of enquiries on state capture, investigation and prosecution of those responsible for various malfeasances and strengthening of mechanisms for the appointment of individuals to senior government positions, state owned entities and law enforcement agencies as this will improve transparency, prevent corruption and ensure adequate vetting of candidates.

To win this war, anti-corruption efforts within the state are being more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption are exposed and prosecuted. This also includes corruption, collusion and other criminal activity in the private sector, which are being fought with equal diligence, determination and vigour.

Given the economic morass our country finds itself in, the new leadership of the ANC has taken a decision to prioritize economic recovery. We are attending to issues that have been hampering growth with the view to realize higher levels of growth in the economy. We are giving urgent attention to the State-owned Enterprises (SEO’s) governance challenges with the appointment of new boards and competent and ethical executives being part of our drive to ensure that SOEs play their developmental role. We will continue to take steps to fix all  SOEs as this will go a long way in contributing to growing the economy and creating jobs.

To provide context, radical transformation including on the economic front is a longstanding policy of the ANC. Since the advent of democracy in our country some 24 years ago, all efforts have been made to realize the dream of a better life for all our people. At an economic level, there are pieces of legislation and policies that aim at correcting the wrongs of the apartheid past by bringing the hitherto economically excluded into the mainstream.

The mining charter should be viewed against this backdrop. The pace of economic transformation across most if not all sectors had been worryingly slow, mining included. Our government is now taking decisive steps to accelerate the pace as per the resolutions of the ANC 54th National Conference. The ongoing extensive consultations with stakeholders to hammer out a charter that will ensure accelerated transformation whilst making mining attractive to investors, sustainable and safe is a step in the right direction and we urge all stakeholders to participate in rebuilding our mining sector.

Our country is open for business. There are a multiplicity of investment opportunities across various sectors including energy, mining, ICT and build environment that need to be seized. The fact that our country has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa, while China has been the country’s biggest trading partner for nine years is an encouraging development that needs to be built on.

We are indeed delighted that the two-way trade between our countries has grown to more than R500 billion as this represents more than 20 times what it was at the dawn of democracy in our country. We encourage even more growth as foreign direct investment will contribute in no small measure to our efforts of creating a better life for all our people. We have to work on our historic relationship to ensure that our countries grow their economies for the benefit of our people.

by Paul Mashatile

BRICS IN AFRICA – WORKING TOWARDS THE REALISATION OF THE AFRICAN ASPIRATIONS

There has been lot of scepticisms including inferences that we are abandoning our foreign policy objectives by placing emphasis on the BRICS. Nelson Mandela identified in 1993 when he penned an article titled South Africa`s Future Foreign Policy: NEW PILLARS FOR A NEW WORLD. He said;

“Economic development depends on growing regional and international economic cooperation in an interdependent world”.

This is one of the pillars our foreign policy objectives remain predicated on. It is in this context that South Africa accepted the invitation to join BRICS in 2011. We believe that economic cooperation remains an important instrument to pursue our national interests and improve the living conditions of our people.

Our country’s foreign policy outlook is predicated on our African history and identity. We are Africans by birth and therefore our country belongs to this continent and not as a result of geographical composition. In the same vein you will appreciate that Africans are part of the Global South comprising in the main by countries which were colonised and citizens who were subjugated for a long time.

The BRICS formation signifies a long standing tradition of solidarity that was firmly established 63 years ago, in April 1955. This was when countries of Asia and Africa met at the historic Bandung Conference to determine their stance and common goals in the emerging Cold War era and assert themselves in the international system. The historic result of the Bandung Conference was the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in later years.

Amid pressure from the Cold War bipolarisation, those countries were able to concertedly affirm that they would choose neither the East nor the West, but pursue their own path and strategy under the “Bandung Principles” of the Afro-Asia solidarity. It is important to recall that South Africa was at the Bandung Conference, represented by selected ANC leaders.

For those who have shown interest on why Russia is a member of the BRICS, again history will remind you that they identified themselves with the anti-colonial struggle and development of countries of the South. Their involvement in our own country as well as our struggle against apartheid is well documented and they continue to support our development priorities in the post-Cold War and post-apartheid era.

Following the attainment of democracy South Africa appreciated the common socio-economic challenges of countries of the South. This challenges continue to be compounded by an international system that perpetuates the marginalisation of developing countries. In this context, South Africa sought to forge partnerships with other developing countries through formations such as the BRICS in order to address the historic imbalances and economic inequalities.

Even before we joined the BRIC, reference was made by scholars and commentators to its potential. What comes to mind is that the concept “BRIC” was first mooted by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in reference to emerging economies. Perhaps what becomes important and relevant today is that while this concept was intended to reflect emerging markets and investment opportunities, the acronym became equated to a shift in global economic power.

The original projections for the emerging economies to become dominant global powers were estimated at around 2050. However due to unforeseen positive growth in their economies, particularly at the time of the global financial crisis, such projections have since been revised to 2027. The BRICS countries produce a third of the world’s industrial products and one half of agricultural goods.

According to the Standard Bank Report on BRICS published in 2017, as  at the end of 2016, the collective GDP of the BRICS was larger than that of the entire European Union, and accounted for 22,5% of total global output. Though the value of external trade relationships have declined, the BRICS are still a collectively profound trading partner for developing economies in general and Africa in particular, with these flows bolstered by investment on the continent, particularly from China, South Africa and India.

There is general consensus that since its inception the BRICS formation has joined an array of inter-regional bodies that contribute to global diffusion of power. It is not an illusion that BRICS countries collectively and individually contribute to the tectonic shift due to amongst others the increased economic dominance of China and the re-emergence of Russia.

These shifts and changes in the global sphere augurs well with our African Agenda. The unity and renewal of our African continent must be pursued together with efforts to transform the global system. Humanity can thrive when their collective and individual interests and aspirations are responded to and the BRICS formation is tilting the balance of forces to ensure exactly that.

It is within this context that the BRICS Summit hosted an Africa-Outreach meeting of selected Heads of State and government. This approach was started in Durban when we hosted the BRICS in 2013. Our view is that we must continue to promote and enhance the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 through the BRICS mechanisms.

There is no contestation that the establishment and subsequent operationalisation of the BRICS New Development Bank provided an alternative for project funding. This will again complement the existing global traditional financial institutions. The BRICS mandate is that to ensure that infrastructure and sustainable development project funding by the BRICS bank is made available to countries that are not members of the formation.

We have started to implement some of the selected and profiled BRICS projects. These projects and areas included: Insurance and Re-insurance Cooperation; the BRICS Seed Bank; Infrastructure, including Electricity Generation and Transmission; the BRICS Cable Project, the African Union (AU) North-South Development Corridor; the Ocean’s Economy; Cooperation in Aviation; and Manufacturing.

We witnessed with pride the first tranche of NDB project loans disbursed in 2016. I recall that this trench included a project in renewable energy amounting to 180 million USD to our own country. This has enabled us to stabilize our electricity grid supply and keep the much-needed jobs through continued operations in factories. There are those who are already saying the NDB could be the new World Bank, as far as I know this was not the objective of its creation. In May 208 South Africa was granted an additional loan of USD 200 million by the NDB for expansion of the Durban port. It is worth noting that thus far the NDB has disbursed loans totalling USD 5.1 billion.

As we continue leveraging the opportunities provided by the BRICS formation, we must ensure that we infuse and harness youth dividends. Young people represent 66% of South Africa’s population and the challenge, at hand, is how to harness their collective potential to be productive and contribute to the growth of an inclusive, knowledge-driven industrial economy. In the continent the rate the youth account for is 60%.

In his maiden State of the Nation address, President Ramaphosa gave clear direction on youth empowerment, a message that will cascade to all the facets of the 10th BRICS Summit.

“Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment. It is, therefore, a matter of great urgency that we draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity. Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda.”

I am certain that this can be achieved within the ambit of the intra-BRICS cooperation work programme, as contained in the BRICS Action Plan. Similarly we want to see deepened engagements with the South African BRICS Business Council, the BRICS Civil society, and Academic community.

In 2017, China innovated on the traditional Outreach approach by introducing the concept of BRICS Plus, which entailed a dialogue with Emerging Markets and Developing Countries.

The rationale behind the BRICS Plus concept is to create a platform for greater interaction and partnerships amongst countries of the Global South to shape the agenda to effect changes in the global economy, notably for (i) development and economic growth through trade and investment integration, and (ii) cooperation in global governance financial, economic and political institutions.

In the interest of ensuring maximum synergy between South Africa’s Chairship of BRICS and that of China’s in 2017, South Africa has also elected to consider a BRICS Plus element. In this regard, South Africa has elected to invite the Leaders of the following countries representing Regional Economic Communities in the Global South and the United Nations:

  • Argentina – as Chair of the G20 and influential Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) member
  • Indonesia – as Co-Chair of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership with South Africa and influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member
  • Egypt – as Chair of the Group of 77 (G77) +China
  • Jamaica – as incoming Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Turkey – as Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
  • United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres

We are confident that the 10th BRICS Summit will prove a success as the previous one hosted in eThekwini in 2013. As such, new areas of BRICS cooperation have been proposed by South Africa, are as follows:

  • Establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping;
  • Establishment of a Vaccine Research Centre for Collaboration with BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners – this is intended to be a physical research centre focused on research and development and vaccine innovation;
  • Establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women’s Forum – intended as a dedicated track for gender and women’s issues, given the economic benefit to be derived from the socio-economic empowerment of women, particularly in developing countries;
  • Leveraging the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership towards the pursuit of Inclusive Growth and Advancing the 4th Industrial Revolution – this is intended to foster discussions to addresses opportunities provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as a means of leapfrogging development stages and bridging the digital divide; and
  • Establishment of a BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.
  • South Africa’s approach to its Chairship is grounded in the intention to ensure programmatic continuity for BRICS, and committed to executing approximately 100 sectoral meetings, reflective of the expanded BRICS architecture. We also intend to bring a specific focus to the challenges and opportunities presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Individually and as a collective we are conscious about challenges such as insecurity, growing uncertainties which are compounded by economic sluggishness. We believe that, in this second decade of existence, the BRICS formation has gained sufficient experience to play a larger, active and more constructive role in global affairs. We must build on the achievements recorded in the past decade and further strive towards collective prosperity and contribute to the greater cause of humanity.

We have stated in various platforms that our membership of BRICS shall never be misconstrued as a negation of our relations with countries of the North. I wish to underscore that this is a complimentary mechanism which has already proven to be beneficial to its members and certainly will benefit the African continent.

By Luwellyn Landers, Deputy Minister in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation)

TECHNOLOGY FOR AN INCLUSIVE FUTURE

Were it not for the constraints of time and geography, this week’s summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa would have taken place on the chilly plains of the Karoo.

For there is probably be no more fitting place to hold the 10th BRICS Summit than in the shadow of Meerkat, the world’s biggest and most sensitive radio telescope for space observation. The telescope, which will form part of the Square Kilometre Array, is more than a demonstration of Africa’s technological prowess. As it examines the history of the universe, the Meerkat is writing our future.

It is this future – of technology, innovation and inclusive development – that will dominate deliberations at the BRICS Summit, to be held in Johannesburg on 25-27 July 2018.

As the host country, South Africa has chosen to focus on collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the fourth industrial revolution. This theme reflects the core priorities developed in the first decade of the BRICS Forum. The five countries have committed themselves to the creation of inclusive development by advancing global partnerships based on mutual benefit and openness. They have been working together to address common challenges that will bring prosperity to all humankind.

As technological change accelerates, as the fourth industrial revolution begins to reshape economies and redefine the nature of work, the BRICS countries have recognised the need for greater cooperation in science, technology and innovation.

Last year, they adopted the BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation, which stressed innovation as a key to global sustainable development as it unlocks human potential through entrepreneurship, job creation and economic growth.

Among the areas on which BRICS countries have agreed to cooperate are innovation advancement and technology transfer, science parks and incubators, and the application of geospatial technology. Through these agreements, the BRICS countries have set themselves on a path to realise the empowerment of our countries in the next phase of global economic development.

As it assumes the chairship of BRICS, South Africa is aiming to consolidate the progress over the last few years by establishing a framework on the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is geared towards support for industrialisation and sustainable development.

However, many developing countries, particularly on our continent, do not have the underlying skills and infrastructure to be able to compete at a global level. Some of our partners in BRICS have successfully confronted these challenges and there is much that we can gain from their experiences. They have adopted industrial and regulatory policies that support the development of high speed internet infrastructures and secure data spaces.

One of the main economic and social challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a possible increase in inequality, driven by the substitution of automation for labour, displacing workers and exacerbating the gap between returns to capital and returns to labour. Training and educational policies therefore must be put in place to support the development of new skills, including re-training of existing employees.

In this rapidly changing global economy, our countries must invest in the development of young scientists to reap the economic and social benefits of The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The architecture of the next industrial revolution must be inclusive. The citizens of the developing economies should not be treated only as consumers of technology, but pathways must be open for them to participate also as developers and managers of innovation.

If we contribute to setting the global science agenda, then the solutions that technology produces will be able to advance our specific developmental interests. This requires the concerted development of human scientific capital.

Sustainable global development needs intensified dialogue among all nations and committed engagement to work together. No country or research group can work or succeed alone. Resources need to be pooled and expertise shared.

The BRICS Forum is an ideal platform for this type of collaboration. It brings together countries with differing levels of technological and scientific capabilities, each with something to contribute to a collective effort. The opportunities for the exchange of ideas, technology and skills are limitless. As the BRICS Forum enters the second decade of its existence it must place the potential of technology for inclusive development at the centre of its agenda. In doing so, it will ensure that it remains relevant and that it makes a significant and lasting impact on the lives of its 3.1 billion citizens.

By President Cyril Ramaphosa

 

 

 

BRICS RESPONDS TO OUR DEVELOPMENTAL CHALLENGES

The African National Congress recognises the strategic importance of our BRICS membership. Our BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) partners, arising from their inherent progressive orientation and internationalist posture, are perfect partners given the ANC’s own progressive internationalism, which we use as a tool through which we analyse the world.

This is particularly critical at a time when we are witnessing a rise in anti-globalisation sentiments due to lack of inclusive growth. We need to position the BRICS partnership appropriately and ensure that it contributes to inclusive growth and that development is at the centre of everything we do – in order to change the world and make it a better place.

There could be no doubt that individual BRICS countries are important and influential globally, but even more so, through the alliance we have forged. We should make every effort to use this alliance and cooperation not only for the advancement of our own countries, but also to the benefit of the developing world as a whole.

Our BRICS membership contributes to further leveraging economic opportunities for our own development agenda, as well as that of the continent. As part of the developing world, South Africa faces the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Particularly in the context of current global developments, South Africa’s membership of BRICS has been one of the key strategic partnerships of the democratic South Africa and is a key platform for promoting South-South trade and investment.

The BRICS membership is now showing its potential benefits to the local economy. BRICS partners share best practices and development models to address and combat these common challenges. More importantly, BRICS seeks to advance the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable and balanced and which rests on the important pillar of multilateralism.

Significantly, BRICS contain 40 percent of the world’s population.

With a combined GDP of approximately $15 trillion, BRICS countries account for 19.3% of gross global product; 42.7% of the world population; and has contributed more than 50% to the world economic growth during the last 10 years.

Intra-BRICS trade has grown from US$567 billion in 2010 to $744 billion in 2017. South Africa-BRIC trade has grown from $28bn to $35bn over the same period. Both SA exports to and imports from other BRICS countries have grown at a rate faster than South Africa’s global trade, thus increasing the importance of other BRICS countries in South Africa’s trade basket. Combined, the BRIC countries account for 15.4% of South Africa’s global exports, and 25.4% of the country’s imports. The key focus for BRICS should be to change the structure of our trade and promote value-added trade so as to contribute to the structural transformation of our economies.

The SMME sector in many of the BRICS economies contribute up to nearly half of their exports, manufacturing output and GDP. Together we are addressing key barriers/impediments faced by SMMEs and the need for cooperation among the BRICS countries to effectively address the barriers to trade and investment amongst the SMMEs.

Across the globe, experience demonstrates that small business and co-operatives thrive if an enabling environment is created and if there is a robust partnership between government, big business and the SMMEs and co-operative sector.

In this regard, South Africa has identified small businesses and co-operatives as critical to creating an economy that benefits all. South Africa’s economy needs a thriving small business and cooperatives sector to reach national socio-economic goals of a prosperous and inclusive society. It is only through a flourishing inclusive economy that the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty can be comprehensively addressed.

Our point of departure is that small businesses can be the backbones of any economy and the main driver of economic growth, poverty reduction and job creation. A healthy SMME sector can make a massive contribution to the economy by creating more employment opportunities and generating higher production volumes.

The country’s high rate of unemployment and extreme inequality call for bold and far-sighted interventions. The National Development Plan is the vehicle which will address poverty, unemployment and inequality. It sets an ambitious aim to treble the size of the economy by 2030, a daunting challenge that will require our collective contribution. Meeting the NDP’s growth target of 5.4 % for the next 16 years would not only guarantee South Africa’s material prosperity, but would be an elevating and inspiring narrative for the country.

As the NDP makes clear, getting South Africa onto a high-growth trajectory demands that we fundamentally change our game plan and place small businesses and co-operatives at the centre of our war against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Developing a strong and growing SME community is a cornerstone of the NDP’s vision. SMEs are expected to be central to South Africa’s job creation efforts, in line with international trends.

One of the specific targets of the NDP is to reduce unemployment to 6% by 2030 through the creation of 11 million jobs. The NDP projects that if we implement the full range of its recommendations, our economy will grow at 5% per annum, with 60-80% of this value being generated by SMMEs and expanding businesses, and that this sector will create 90%, or 9.9 million, of the 11 million new jobs we will boast by 2030. Hence our bold assertion: Small business is big business.

We are heartened to note that the contribution of SMMEs to the economy continued to increase despite the increasingly difficult economic conditions. We are determined to strengthen the small business sector to enable it to occupy its rightful place in the mainstream economy and to demonstrate that Small Business is the Big Business of the future and working together we can indeed achieve more.

This task is not only limited to government but is a joint compact between government, civil society and the private sector. The key responsibility of government is to create an enabling environment for small business to take their rightful places in the mainstream economy.

We must reiterate that our active participation in BRICS is in pursuit of our national interests. The economic benefits that will accrue through our BRICS membership cannot be over-emphasised. BRICS is, indeed, a concrete affirmation of our unyielding commitment to implement ANC resolutions and policies. 

By Cde Lindiwe Zulu, Chairperson of the International Relations Sub-Committee of the African National Congress

BRICS OFFERS US THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHALLENGE THE GLOBAL STATUS QUO

Proclaiming India’s independence in 1947, the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, immediately cast his eyes on the global stage, saying:

“And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine it can live apart.”

What Nehru was proclaiming was not a novel idea, Karl Marx had already in the 19th Century referred to the idea of globalisation.

If the idea of being closely knit together existed already in 1947, how much more so today when globalisation has advanced so much and so far as it has, knitting together nations and peoples in ways yet before unimaginable!

The countries and peoples that constitute the BRICS bloc are no strangers to one another; their relations were forged in the crucible of the struggle for independence and national self-determinations.

Each one of us and together have both struggled and also supported one another, forging common cause along the way, as we sought not only the right to national self-determination for our peoples but also as we championed that for one another and others.

We come together not by chance or inescapable fate, but because our collective conscience and yearning for a new and better world has driven us closer to one another. It is because each one of us are discontented with the current global power relations and the tendency that became most prevalent particularly during the mid-nineties towards a unipolar world, where the dogma of market-fundamentalism seemed to suggest that states have less role in national and global development, that unbridled markets are the future of human progress and that it was okay an fair that the institutions and rules of global political and economic governance must be dominated by a few pursuing a single dogma.

It is a special tribute to the South African people that as BRICS celebrates its first decade, it does so on our soil during the year of the centennial celebrations of the birth of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu.

What makes this occasion even more special is the very fact that gathered here are the representatives of countries who have determined that they shall challenge the global status quo and ensure that the world in which we live is multipolar and adheres to more inclusive and democratic rules and institutions of political and economic governance.

BRICS represents the global resolve of the peoples of developing nations that a new and better world is possible and with our collective effort we can forge such a world.

 

With BRICS in existence, and growing stronger both as a trading partnership and political bloc, it will no longer be possible that the stronger will impose their will on the weaker on the assumption that the latter will simply succumb and adhere to rules set elsewhere in the capitals or forums of the stronger.

The BRICS Plus representatives in South Africa this week are here to make an unequivocal claim to the future of their societies and the world. They must resist all attempts to turn them into idle observers of global political processes who sheepishly accept the notion that the powerful shall rule and the rest will follow apathetically.

In the Preface to his book, Making Globalization Work: The Next Steps to Global Justice, Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Vice-President, makes a bold statement that,

“Economics has been driving globalisation, especially through the lowering of communication and transport costs. But politics has shaped it. The rules of the game have been largely set by the advanced industrial countries – and particularly by special interests within those countries – and, not surprisingly, they have shaped globalisation to further their own interests. They have not sought to create a fair set of rules, let alone a set of rules that would promote the well-being of those in the poorest countries of the world.”

This statement is consistent with the one he made in his other book, The Price of Inequality, where he said that,

“We have seen how America’s current inequality, and that of many countries, did not arise spontaneously from abstract market forces but was shaped and enhanced by politics. Politics is the battleground for fights over how to divide a nation’s economic pie. It is a battle that the 1 percent (of the wealthiest) have been winning. That isn’t how it’s supposed to be in a democracy.”

Ultimately, BRICS countries could have chosen to either withdraw themselves from the system or to engage with the globalisation process as individual rebels and independently reject the system, but they knew this would not work. Ultimately, what shapes the globalisation process is politics and it is here that the battle for inclusion, participation and equity has to be fought and won. Abstaining would hand the power over to the advanced industrialised countries on a golden platter and would be an abdication of responsibility for those seeking a new and better world order.

As well as the need to democratise the structures of global political and economic governance, there is an urgent need to safeguard the national sovereignty of developing nations and reduce the socio-economic disparities both within and between nation states through pursuing policies of broad-based and more sustainable inclusion.

The best way to achieve the above is not through disengagement from the process but through developing countries harnessing their collective strength and resources in order to influence the process in their own favour and in favour of the poor in every country.

The current US policy of disengagement poses a risk to global growth and development, driven as it is by narrow right-wing self-interests. The rich must not be allowed to engage or disengage on their own terms, as and when it suits them.

Changing the rules cannot happen without direct engagement through collective efforts and strength, but through forging a compact for new decision making and ensuring there is equality of opinion in these structures of global governance.

History demands that we must take a stand; the present and the future also demand that we must a firm determination to transform our local and global politics to be in favour of the excluded and the poor as well as to renew humanity’s faith in democracy.

BRICS offers us an opportunity to make our mark and create an alternative power bloc for developing nations that will proffer alternative solutions to the current inequitable global world order. It proceeds from the premise that – Another and better world is possible and most urgent!

Cde Malusi Gigaba is a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress 

SOUTH AFRICA-CHINA COOPERATION ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION: A NEW DAWN

A cursory glance at the industrial revolutions that have shaped human history in the past 300 years reveals a prominent role played by the development of natural science and technology. The diffusion of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) into human activities led to increased economic productivity and unprecedented levels of human development. Technological change is largely responsible for the evolution of such basic markers of human progress as increased life expectancy, food production through agriculture, improved material standards of living and change in the nature of work.

Implicit in this observation is that for South Africa to place itself on a higher and sustainable economic growth trajectory, deliberate and conscious efforts must be made to husband science, technology and innovation. After all, the National Development Plan (NDP) accords science, technology and innovation a central role in achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

The adoption of the White Paper on Science and Technology in 1996 began the process of placing South Africa’s Science and technology system towards the development of the lives of all citizens. In his address to the inauguration of the Academy of Science of South Africa that year, President Nelson Mandela noted that: “South Africa’s first democratic government has given concrete and practical effect to its high regard for science by establishing the country’s first Ministry of Science and Technology.”

He described the Ministry’s mandate as inclusive of “a far-reaching transformation of our science and technology system, in order to bring knowledge to bear in promoting growth and development to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.” 

The Department of Science and Technology has made significant progress in implementing the White Paper. In the past 20 years, South Africa has expanded the STI institutional landscape, achieved a three-fold increase in scientific publications, experienced significant growth in the participation of black people and women in the research and development workforce and realised a rise in doctoral graduation. These achievements are a result of increased investments in our national system of innovation (NSI) and the global partnerships the country has forged over the years. Indeed, a 2012 review by the Minister of Science and Technology acknowledged international cooperation as one of the important elements in the development of South Africa’s NSI.

Following the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in January 1998, a cooperation agreement in the field of Science and Technology was signed between South Africa and the PRC in 1999. Since the signing of the agreement, relations between the two countries have gained great momentum and are exemplary in China-Africa cooperation and South-South cooperation.

From 1998 to date, South African and Chinese researchers have been cooperating in areas such as engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and biochemistry, plant and animal science, material science, agricultural science and many more.  More than 75 joint research projects and initiatives were funded in the areas of biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, ICT, palaeosciences, health (traditional medicines); transport technology and mineral resources. The research projects have contributed to human capital development, the training of young scientists and publications in science journals, as well as academic papers presented at science forums and conferences. Our cooperation with China is, as President Mandela said, premised on the conviction that Science and technology must be a means “to bring knowledge to bear in promoting growth and development to improve the quality of [human] life” than an end in itself – worse still an avenue for the pursuit such destructive goals as the space and arms race which would result in nothing short of human destruction.

Our two countries are working to consolidate the foundation of cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the BRICS cooperation and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Cooperation in the field of Science and technology has become an important anchor of our partnership. Together with China, South Africa is a member of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) organisation. The SKA radio telescope, to be built in Australia and in Africa – with the African chapter located in South Africa – will be the largest radio telescope on the planet. The construction will be in two phases; the first representing about 10% of the full complement of the project.

Two weeks ago on July 13, Deputy President David Mabuza launched the MeerKAT, a 64-dish Telescope array. MeerKAT, which will later serve as a significant component of the SKA has thus far captured the best radio images ever recorded by humans.

Further to develop cooperation between the two countries, last year, the two governments signed two Memoranda of Understanding. The first focuses on the exchange of young scientists between the two countries while the second endeavours to create joint South African-Chinese research centres. The first of these centres will focus on the strategic domain of mining and minerals technology. My Chinese counterpart, Minister Wang Zhigang, and I have signed a letter of intent as a first step towards the establishment of the China-South Africa Joint Research and Innovation Fund. The JRIF will serve, inter alia:

  • to provide funding on a competitive basis for unrated researchers;
  • to promote the development of new technologies and innovations;
  • to build research infrastructure and capacity within historically disadvantaged institutions in South Africa, and;
  • to provide fellowships for post-doctoral research in mutually agreed areas within South Africa and China.

The two countries also intend to establish the South Africa-China Young Scientist Exchange Programme (YSEP). This programme will stimulate the interest of young scientists in the Science Engineering and Technology fields. The Terms of Reference for the YSEP have been finalised. Both countries have agreed on a minimum of 10 students to be selected and they will leave for China for a period of six months or a year during the first quarter of 2019.

Among other things, these developments mean that our country must step up efforts to develop mathematics and science education at the foundational level of basic education in order to maximise the role of science and technology in the promotion of growth and development to improve the quality of the lives of South Africans.

As the world begins to grapple with what it means to live in the fourth industrial society, the initiatives under the cooperation of the two countries will encourage researchers in both countries to collaborate on emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Contrary to the prevailing thinking that has encouraged some countries to respond to the new global developments by closing their borders, appealing to perilous nationalisms, the cooperation between South Africa and China will, in the fullness of time, serve as a symbol of what is possible to facilitate human civilisation.  

In a Sunday Tribune (South Africa) article titled “For a New Era of China-South Africa Friendship,” President Xi Jingping said the two countries “must increase communication to add new impetus to our people-to-people exchanges. We need to leverage the role of the High-level people-to-people Exchange Mechanism in enhancing communication between our people’s, expand co-operation in education, culture, science and technology, health and sport and promote between youth, women think tanks and media outlets.”  

For his part, President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking at the dialogue on Science, technology and Innovation attended by President Xi Jingping together with Chinese and South African Scientists observed that “South Africa’s hosting of the global Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is an excellent example of successful international cooperation in science.

“A project of the scale of the SKA, which will be the flagship frontier science project of the 21st century, cannot be undertaken by any nation alone.

“In addition to providing a better understanding of our universe, the SKA will drive innovation in crucial technology areas such as high performance computing and high-speed data transmission networks.

“We wish to acknowledge China’s crucial contributions to the SKA project as a valued partner.”

 The reaffirmation of bilateral relations between the countries at Heads of State level is putting paid to rest, the misgivings of the sceptics who have, without a shred of evidence, sought to convince Africans that the activities of China on the African continent are intended to colonise the continent. 

Our cooperation with the ancient people of China, whose contribution to technology development include the discovery of gunpowder as far back the Tang dynasty leading to a revolution in the conduct of warfare, will place the global South at the centre of future technological developments.

As a key component of the Global South, South Africa cannot but rise to the challenge.

Cde Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane is a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress