Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 8.2018
2018.02.19— 2018.02.25
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
China, Pakistan and the anti-India lot (Китай, Пакистан и антииндийская партия) / Pakistan, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Zarnaab Adil Janjua

It was former Indiana Senator and President Trump's Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats who ruffled a few feathers in Islamabad as well as Beijing with his statements in front of the Senate Committee on Intelligence. Coats opined that the emerging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would offer additional targets for militants to pounce on. It is not as if China was wholly unaware of this problem.

The country saw two of its engineers being killed by unknown assailants in the restive province of Balochistan with imminent threats to many more. Towards the end of 2017, the Chinese embassy in Islamabad also issued a warning to its citizens calling on them to be wary of potential terror attacks. Whenever there is an assessment of the risks that might impede the CPEC's success, terrorism always tops the list, especially with the project's magnum opus Gwadar, lying in Balochistan, a region fraught with separatism and violence.

Of late Pakistan has seen a decline in terrorist activities after its armed forces launched an indiscriminate military operation against terrorists all over Pakistan. However, allegations persist over the harbouring of certain terror outfits. President Trump began the New Year with a slew of tweets blaming Pakistan for supporting the very groups the United States was actively engaged against. These include the Haqqani network as well as the anti-India lot, which include Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad among other.

At the United Nations, China has had a history of blocking Indian attempts to place the leaders of these outfits on terror watch lists. India has blamed China for this policy of what they have called hypocrisy and doublespeak when it comes to tackling terrorism. China's crucial diplomatic support at times like these allowed Pakistan to be safe from political and economic sanctions.

With $62 billion of Chinese money pouring into Pakistan, it was a risk either country could ill afford to take. However, the declaration that followed the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen was a fundamental policy shift from Beijing. For the first time, the Chinese condemned the very terror groups it had protected from sanctions at the UN.

With increasing economic involvement in the region, China is what the Diplomat Arushi Kumar calls, "reorienting its internal calculus and tightening its grip on security in Pakistan." New Delhi is already perturbed over the fact that the CPEC passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The BRICS declaration might be a move to appease the Indians, even though it seems that China is now cognizant of the threat that even the anti-India groups will pose to its interests in the region.

With Pakistan abandoning the American eagle for the Chinese dragon, Islamabad may not even have to heed to the US pressure regarding the anti-India groups it is harbouring

However, dealing with the anti-India lot is what presents the Pakistani state with significant challenges. They are not like the Haqqani network which can conveniently be nudged into Afghanistan when the situation calls for it. For the anti-India lot, Pakistan is home.

There is no nudging back and forth. And if these groups do exist there will be times when they become active, and their being active will cause events such as Mumbai, Pathankot and Uri, the likes of which will cause massive global fallout and furore in Delhi. Thus, there is a fundamental question for the Pakistani federation and more specifically the military: is it willing to give up on the anti-India lot? The narrative of India being the eternal enemy shall never falter, that much is certain.

As now notorious Cyril Almeida of Dawn contends, "The logic of utility, institutional self-preservation and the mechanism of jihad means the boys can and will turn on the anti-India lot. What the boys will never do is give up on India being the enemy."

When will the military's misguided notion of 'strategic depth' be updated? Sporadic action against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Filah-e-Insaniyat Foundation persist but no long-term shutting down is in sight. With Pakistan abandoning the American eagle for the Chinese dragon, Islamabad may not even have to heed to the US pressure regarding these anti-India groups. One can only hope that China wants what is best for Pakistan and forces the military to reorient its strategy on the infamous anti-India lot.

The writer is a student of Public Policy at the Wagner School, New York University. His interests include cricket, South Asian politics and political Islam
Is Russia a Threat? (Россия - это угроза?) / United States, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
United States

SHARMINI PERIES: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Suspicions that Russia represents a threat to the United States received a new boost with last week's indictment of 13 Russians for their alleged interference in the 2016 election campaign. Although President Trump tends to downplay Russia's role, his own military advisors recently reaffirmed Russia as a threat. Last December the Trump administration released its national security strategy document which identifies Russia and China as the two main rivals of the U.S.. It goes on to also refer to Russia as a major threat, stating, "Russia is investing in new military capabilities including nuclear systems that remain the most significant existential threat to the United States and in stabilizing cyber capabilities. Through modernized forms of subversive tactics, Russia's interference in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world," it read.

Joining me now to discuss this and take a closer look at the supposed Russian threat is Vijay Prashad. Vijay is executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and is also chief editor of LeftWord Books. He's also the author of more than 18 books, including The Future of the Arab Revolution. Thanks for joining us Vijay.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Pleasure. Thanks.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Vijay, let's start off with the recent indictment against 13 Russians from this internet troll farm in Russia. If they were able to sway some voters and if President Vladimir Putin of Russia is intent on somehow influencing U.S. politics, doesn't that make Russia a threat to the United States?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, if it's true that the Russian government used whatever cyber means to influence the U.S. election, then that should be cause for alarm to people who manage the election process and perhaps to the American electorate, certainly. Every country has the right to have some sort of sovereign election system where the country's institutions are respected, where the people are able to produce a mandate for whomever they'd like to govern themselves. By the way, this is a principle that I think the United States should adopt when it looks at other elections going back the last 60 years, having scant regard for the institutions of other countries, the electoral institutions, and for the outcome of elections. Most significantly when the Palestinians decided to elect Hamas, the United States, which had pushed for those elections, invalidated the results saying, "Well we don't like your candidates that have won." So, yes of course a country should be concerned about interference in its election processes and I think that's something that the United States institutions should take seriously.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right. Let's take a step back a bit Vijay. Would you say Russia's interests is in regard to the United States and how has that interest evolved say over the last few decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, I think here there's an interesting story to be told. In other words I think the obsession inside the American media about whether Russia is the demon, let's say, of American politics I think is slightly overdrawn, that picture. It may be true that the Russian government had some influence in the U.S. election, personally I very much doubt that it had the ultimate role in bringing President Trump into the White House, but nonetheless that's a separate question. I think the question I'm interested in is whether Russia is indeed a so-called threat to the United States. This goes to another question, which is, "What should be the architecture of interstate relations? How should governments, the 193, 194 governments of the world, interact with each other?"

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States, by dint of its military power and its political authority, has been able to drive what is known as a unipolar understanding of international affairs where one pole, the so-called sole superpower, the United States, essentially dictates to the rest of the world how things should happen. This was not only by war, the test case here was the first Iraq war, but also by trade policy, and here the test case was the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1994, which was largely an organization that developed along the kind of principles and rules set by the United States and its allies. This unipolar organization of world affairs was something that I think greatly advantaged the United States for several decades.

In the recent period, this unipolar architecture has been challenged by China, by Russia, and by other countries, which we know as the so-called emerging powers, and they are pushing for what they call a multipolar organization of the world, not a single pole but many poles. China and Russia's push therefore has been towards multipolarity, not to overthrow the Americans and supplant the United States as let's say these two as the main powers, but to have a much more regionalized organization of world power. Given this, the Russians and Chinese have been pushing back against the United States and the United States government has defined this as a threat to U.S. interests. I think this definition of the push for multipolarity as a threat to U.S. interests is very narrow. It's narrow-minded and it's suffocating for the rest of the planet.

SHARMINI PERIES: That is not to say that China and Russia doesn't have their own interests and assertions in terms of using force to deal with situations say with its Crimea, or Chechnya, or in the Chinese, in the Southeast region to the Chinese, does want control of their borders, of their seaports and so forth.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, of course they use force to establish their interests, but I think what's important to understand is that neither Russia nor China, despite being permanent members of the UN Security Council, despite having a considerable nuclear arsenal, neither of them are world powers. In other words, neither China nor Russia have the military capacity to extend themselves into let us say the Western Hemisphere. There is no opportunity for Russia and China, no structural ability for these two countries to affect any kind of military change, let's say, in South America, Central America, or in North America. Meanwhile, of course, the United States continues to have a global footprint, so that the United States can indeed affect change in Asia, in Africa, at least try to affect change through military force.

These two powers, Russia and China, are actually better seen as regional powers. Turns out of course that they are enormous countries that straddle continents. In the case of Russia it straddles Europe and Asia, and so its borders do in fact run into zones where the United States believes it has fundamental interests. The key areas here of course are the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Now it's very interesting that the two conflicts that Russia has been involved in vis-à-vis the West, have been about warm water ports. This is something that is not often talked about. Why was Russia so intent upon not allowing Ukraine to become as it were a pro-western power, and why was Russia so intent to protect its interests in Syria?

Well the only two warm water ports that the Russians have any access to are in Sevastopol in the Crimea and in Tartus in Syria. These are the two major wars outside its territory that Russia has been involved with in Ukraine and in Syria. These are to my mind logical defensive wars to protect these two warm water ports. It's by the way important to recognize that the United States has about 30 warm water ports in its own territory, and another 30 warm water ports in places where it has allied agreements such as in Manama in Bahrain, in Qatar, in Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean.

The United States Navy has 60 warm water ports to the Russian two warm water ports, so there's a great deal of exaggeration of Russian power, of Russian threats to the United States, when in fact I think it's better to see the Russians and the Chinese as being defensive of their borders and of the kind of regions that are near their borders, but they are not making a push for global power. I don't think either of them are threatening the United States mainland. They are certainly threatening the United States unipolar control over the planet, that is a threat, but not the United States itself.

SHARMINI PERIES: Vijay, it is important to point out here that the increase of the U.S. military budget insisted upon by Donald Trump is greater than the total Russian military budget. The new U.S. budget will spend 105 billion more on the U.S. military than it did just last year, taking U.S. military spending to 716 billion. Russia's total military spending as far as we know is around 69 billion, and the Chinese too are spending more on military than it has in the past, but nowhere near the U.S.S. The argument that Russia and China are threats are weak assertions here, aren't they?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, this is a very important question. Let's take the case of Russia. Let's assume that a dollar in Russia buys as much as a dollar in the United States. This is an unfair assumption, but let's just assume that for the sake of comparison. Now, it's interesting that if President Trump gets his way in this next budget, the United States will spend at least $710 billion on its military, on what is known as defense. At least $710 billion, I say at least because of course there are the hidden budgets that involve the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, national security, et cetera, but let's take the $710 billion on the surface as the amount the United States spends in war making.

The Russians by comparison spend $69 billion in war making. That's one-tenth, less than one-tenth of what the United States spends. Mr. Trump wants to increase the budget by--to $710 billion--is by $100 billion. In other words, the increase in U.S. military spending is itself greater than the total military spending by Russia. I think this statistic is very important, this data point is very important. It's important for people to understand the scale of U.S. military spending and the scale of Russian military spending. There is simply no comparison, one against the other. It's of course true that Russian military spending has increased over the last decade and a half, and the reason it's increased is since Mr. Putin came to office in 2004 he had pledged to improve not only the Russian military but Russian arms production, both of which had deteriorated in the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In many ways Putin's spending on the Russian military and on Russian military production was a kind of salvage spending, building up the Russian military to near Soviet levels, but not actually at Soviet levels. Russia still has only one rather poor Air Force carrier, which as many people noted was not able to operate at full capacity off the coast of Syria in the Mediterranean, whereas the United States has several Air Force carriers and therefore can project its force across the planet. One should be I think rather actually based in one's understanding of military power and of power of countries, rather than allow the kind of hallucinations of the corporate media to sway one's thinking.

SHARMINI PERIES: On the economic side Vijay, the U.S. continues to dominate the world in spite of China's remarkable economic gains over the last several decades, but Russia is struggling economically. It's still coming out of the setback in terms of the drop in oil prices and it might be doing a little bit better than it was a few years ago, but where is all this heading and what is going to be the measures undertaken to dethrone the U.S. dominance and influence over the world economy?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, this is a very difficult piece of the puzzle as it were. The so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, over the course of the past decade had tried to provide alternative institutional frameworks for trade and development. They pushed for an alternative to the World Bank, they pushed for an alternative to the International Monetary Fund, and so on. Even those pushes that they made to create these alternatives to the IMF and the World Bank, those itself were rather timid. In other words, they continue to rely on the U.S. dollar for them and they continue to rely on the IMF surveillance units to provide them with information. The drive to create an alternative ratings agency to Moody's, to Standard & Poor, didn't really take off. The attempt to produce a new wire service that would have allowed these countries to not have to go through the European wire services, the Swift service that's based in Europe, that didn't take off.

This attempt to create an alternative set of institutions hasn't really gone anywhere, and now that several right-wing countries have emerged within the BRIC blocks, that is in India, in Brazil, in South Africa as well, these are right-of-center governments as far as economic policy is concerned, and none of them really has the appetite to drive an agenda against U.S. dominance over trade institutions, over development institutions. This has not really gone anywhere and I think it's to be seen whether some of the initiatives started by the BRICS will even survive the next five years.

SHARMINI PERIES: Vijay, this leaves the political fora; here we are mainly looking at the United Nations and perhaps the EU to contain the U.S. What are the developments that we should note here by way of dehumanizing the power of the United States in terms of the political world order?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, it's to be seen whether this is going to be possible. The two flashpoint conflicts in Iran and North Korea, the United States in neither of these conflicts has been able to drive an agenda by itself. It has been hemmed in by lack of allies, and here actually the issue is not so much Russia and China, although Russia and China put down a marker against U.S. policy, but the issue here are the Europeans. They no longer will march in lockstep with U.S. policy. Reuters recently leaked a memorandum that came from the U.S. State Department and went to embassies in London, Berlin, Brussels, and Paris, asking U.S. ambassador's to push the Europeans on the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump seems eager to want to break, but there is no appetite in Europe to go along with the American position to scuttle the nuclear deal.

There has been equally no appetite in Seoul in South Korea or in Tokyo in Japan to go with the Trump position on North Korea. So, because its allies have abandoned it, it appears therefore that Russia and China are seeing some of their positions come on top over the American positions, at least on Iran and North Korea, but I don't think this should be seen as somehow the emergence of Russian and Chinese power. I think this is much more a sign that American allies are not being as pliable as they used to be.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right Vijay. A lot to digest there. I thank you so much for coming on The Real News Network and looking forward to having you back.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Thanks a lot.

SHARMINI PERIES: Thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.
The Business of Geopolitics in the Caribbean (Геополитический бизнес в Карибском бассейне) / Saint Lucia, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, political_issues
Saint Lucia

In recent weeks The STAR Businessweek has covered the relationship between Brazil and the Caribbean. Brazil's economy is so big that its performance impacts not only its national progress, but that of South America as a whole.

That's Brazil, and it is a sizeable stand-alone entity in our region and globally.

But Brazil is also a core part of BRICS, the association of five emerging marketpowerhouses, with Russia, India, China, and South Africa, like Brazil, possessing a robust GDP at home, and the capacity to project economic power abroad. BRICS has shared goals, but not necessarily shared consensus about achieving them.

Just as Brazil is an important trading partner to many Caribbean nations, so do the other members of BRICS carry much economic sway for our future. So, what does Brazil's relationship with BRICS mean for our region? And what other factors impact our region's relationship with the BRICS nations?

WHAT BRICS SEEKS TO BUILD To understand the future of Brazil and BRICS for our region, it's essential to first define the most important dynamics of the parties in our region. The five BRICS nations share an interest in creating a new economic order in the world.

There are broad strokes to this – Russia and China may aspire to actively challenge the economic power of the US and Europe whereas Brazil and India may prefer consensus-driven reform as opposed to remaking the world anew – but ultimately each nation sees in its four fellow BRICS members willing partners in a campaign for change.

The BRICS bloc also has a fair claim to seek change. Together, the five nations account for 26% of the world's land mass and almost 50% of its population. By any measure, the BRICS nations have the size, population and projected growth to stake a claim for greater global influence in the years ahead. This notwithstanding, there remain tensions here.

China and India share much in common as nations with sizeable territories, huge populations of over 1 billion citizens and a shared recognition that the economic promise of their future has followed after a difficult period of unwanted foreign rule. In many respects, their stories mirror that of many Caribbean nations. Yet India and China also have intrinsic and growing tensions.

While there are shades of grey in each system, India is ultimately celebrated as the world's biggest democracy, whereas the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) authoritarian rule is regularly condemned by democratic activists and human rights campaigners. Recent military tensions over Beijing's South China Sea exploits and creation of artificial islands for territorial claim have rapidly grown the divide.

IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD This strained dynamic is also apparent with Brazil and BRICS in our region. Unquestionably, Brazil holds an advantage over other BRICS nations in pursuing growth and trade in the Caribbean. There is a common history of navigating colonialism and independence in the New World, and economically there's the advantage of proximity relative to more distant BRICS members.

There's also the language factor. Though Brazil is Latin America's sole predominantly Portuguese-speaking nation, its population and economy is so big that it sees Portuguese accompany Spanish and Guarani as the official languages of Mercosur, the South American trading bloc. This is a key example of Brazil's national economic power, and as a leader of South American trade more widely, as South America can go 'all in' for Brazil.

Put simply, with these advantages in place, Brazil aspires to a world where its leverage sees BRICS grow to its benefit, but not to the detriment of its direct interests closer to home.

Like China and India, recognising Brazil's relationship with its neighbours is essential to identify the influence and opportunities available in a BRICS-Caribbean relationship. But the advantages forged over time are not without new complications in 2018.


In recent times a new dynamic has also entered the fray, one that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. The ascent of Donald Trump to the Oval Office came with a promise to put 'America First' and revisit 'bad deals'. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been central to this.

Like Brazil, the proximity of the US, Canada and Mexico to the Caribbean means NAFTA's three members will always have strong and enduring ties to our region. But ties can remain strong and enduring without actually growing. They can also pivot in new directions and reset old relationships.

Just as Brexit has seen Canada recalculate its relationship with the EU and UK, so would a Trump-driven end to NAFTA see Mexico turn from its North American partners to pursue new trade in Latin America, and potentially with China.

Like Brexit, the implications of an end of NAFTA would go beyond the term of a single politician and, instead, be a change that would dramatically alter (for better or worse) the fortunes of a generation.

In effect since 1994, the impact of any variation or end to an agreement that has an annual output of US$17 trillion could have a gargantuan effect immediately, and add a new stumbling block to trade throughout the Americas.

It's true that 'a week is a long time in politics' but economics within the realm of geopolitics usually proceeds at a slower pace. New relations being sought, negotiations held and ultimately trade deals signed, takes time, usually years. That's why the relative speed of events in Beijing's resurgent campaign for diplomatic recognition in the Caribbean, the prospect of Mexico's withdrawal from NAFTA, and the political blowback via the EU from the Paradise and Panama Paper leaks affirm we are in extraordinary times.

The current BRICS chapter is another example of the Caribbean having seen itself confirmed as an epicentre of global currents.

THE ROAD AHEAD At its core, this era is a story of blocs: BRICS, Mercosur, the EU, NAFTA. The challenge for the people of the Caribbean is how to seize upon the opportunities while avoiding being pulled into the geopolitics at play beyond it.

With so many of our nations still very young in the story of their independence, relationships that grow national trade and our regional identity are important. Our region also has no aspiration to revisit great power struggles of the Cold War.

Given the number of interested parties, ensuring that others don't seek to chart our path is best done by the decisive pursuit of our own. At its heart, seizing upon the offerings of BRICS will ask us to envision what a comparable Caribbean bloc may look like.

The stroke of a pen won't see such a bloc made overnight, and it's true that recent episodes in North America and the EU have shown the difficulty of regional political coalitions. But this idea is gaining new momentum in the digital era whereas old challenges of communication and logistics are shrinking.

The work of CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States has shown the foundations for a new step forward here. Our region is a young one, still building a clear sense of regional identity that tells the story of who we are and what we can do that no others can.

While great powers in BRICS and trading partners in NAFTA ponder the future of their engagement in our region amidst their own discord‚ the Caribbean can seek to define and grow what our region embodies in the era of blocs.

We just need to do it brick by brick.

US 'Deep State' Hopes to Bankrupt Russia Through New Arms Race – Analyst (Силовой блок США надеется на банкротство России путем гонки новых вооружений - аналитик) / Russia, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation, political_issues
Author: Ekaterina Blinova

Russia and China should prepare themselves for further American saber-rattling in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, John Bosnitch, a Canadian political consultant, told Sputnik. According to the consultant, there is a growing chance that Moscow, Beijing and other states will respond to US military buildup by forming defense alliances.

"The Russian people should definitely brace themselves for a further buildup of NATO and so-called peace-loving Japanese military threats on their borders," John Bosnitch, a Belgrade-based Canadian political consultant and journalist told Sputnik.

Commenting on Donald Trump's 2019 budget, which envisages an increase in military spending, the specialist stressed that the current US-led war preparations resembles nothing less than "the immense US/NATO politico-economic initiative called 'Star Wars' in the 1980s that required parallel defensive expenditures by the Soviet Union."

The US' 2019 budget requests more than $6.3 billion for the Pentagon's European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) "to better counter Russian coercion and deter Russian aggression in the region."

"Washington's deep state is hoping to repeat the bankrupting of the Soviet Union by today bankrupting Russia through forced defense spending," Bosnitch underscored. "The Pentagon is merely a paid worker in this aggressive policy… it actually is not initiated by the Pentagon but by the ultra-rich oligarchs who dominate America through their monopoly of banks and production resources."

However, the journalist believes that "a continuous international media focus on NATO's saber-rattling at Russia's borders can undermine the Western militarists' push for armed conflict."

Why US War Planners are Boosting Military Aid to Kiev

Referring to the US budget's proposal to allocate "$250 million to help Ukraine protect its territorial sovereignty," the Canadian political consultant pointed out that "this publicly announced US military spending of a quarter of a billion dollars to support the illegal coup regime in Kiev is only the tip of the iceberg."

"US intelligence services and other arms of the US Empire have admitted spending billions to stage the coup against the elected government of Ukraine," Bosnitch said. "That they are now moving into openly financing lethal arms for Kiev means US deep-state planners realize that their effort to destroy Russia via fake 'color revolutions' has finally failed. That is a good thing."

Still, the journalist warned against possible aberrations, stressing that one "should not confuse the actions of the US military-industrial complex with the Trump administration which came to power trying to campaign against the long US history of 'wealth through aggressive war'."

Although Donald Trump assumed the presidency, he de facto remains "a captive prisoner of the US military-industrial oligarchs, locked up like a canary in a golden cage called the 'White House'," Bosnitch noted.

According to the specialist, "the banksters and oligarchs who make their money through outrageously overpriced arms sales have not accepted that their warmonger candidate Hillary Clinton was defeated."

"They continue to try to use their wholly owned lying mainstream media to undermine President Trump and turn the American people against their own elected leader," he pointed out.

New Wars in Europe, Asia Pacific are Probable

Being aligned with the new National Security and National Defense Strategies, the newly released government budget focuses on the European and Indo-Pacific regions, calling for strengthening the US military "forward presence."

Bosnitch believes that "there can be no doubt that the focus on weapons spending is directly aimed at preparing for new wars in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region."

"I was working as a frontline war reporter here in Belgrade in 1999 when Washington's deep state led NATO into a wholly fabricated war of aggression against the former Yugoslavia," the journalist recalled. "Few believed that it would really happen, but the fact is that once US taxpayers' money has been spent on weapons, those weapons need to be used in order for the megalo-oligarchs of America to keep on making more and bigger profits."

According to Bosnitch, "the fundamental problem with the US war-economy syndrome is that prosperity in America continues to depend on waging aggressive wars, regardless of the fact that Donald Trump pledged to focus on repairing America itself."

US war planners and their wealthy backers gain far more profit from "destroying other countries, occupying them, and plundering them," than from improving the daily lives of the American people, he underscored.

The Danger of Nuclear War Elevated to a New Level of Likelihood

However, the US military buildup cannot last forever without prompting blowback: "The out-of-control US military-industrial deep state has created new enemies all around the planet and it is inevitable that they will team up to resist invasion and bombing in the future," the political consultant noted.

Washington's National Security Strategy and the new nuclear doctrine specifically outline Russia and China as America's number one "rivals," which potentially could trigger the two to form a full-fledged military alliance in the future.

Citing the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, Bosnitch noted that although the US has never rejected the first use of nuclear weapons, "what is new in today's situation is that they now threaten to use nuclear weapons against 'cyber threats in the form of computer hacking,' which elevates the danger of nuclear war to a new and never-before imagined level of likelihood."

"This latest US threat definitely increases the pressure on Russia to be able to offer a credible nuclear-response that would make a US first-strike unthinkable in terms of having any possibility of being able to wipe Russia out in a blitzkrieg-style surprise attack," the political consultant warned.

Therefore, "if the US military-industrial complex continues to advance the hands of the so-called doomsday clock closer and closer to Armageddon," then "the likelihood is not only that Russia and China will form a bilateral mutual self-defense alliance, but that many countries around the world, including entirely neutral countries, might also join together in a global peace initiative to pledge to defend each other everywhere," he predicted.

"In other words, there is a growing chance that multiple countries, not only China and Russia, might respond together in mutual defense against an unprovoked US attack on another victim country like Yugoslavia, Syria or Libya," Bosnitch highlighted.

Why Any Conflict Between Superpowers Will Translate Into a Multi-Front War

The journalist continued that while making "long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia" the "principal priority" for the US Department of Defense (DOD), US war planners should take into account that "it is unlikely now that a major war between superpowers could be anything other than a multi-front war."

He explained that "given the degree of direct bilateral economic cooperation between Russia and China, if America were to attack one of these two countries, it would be very seriously harming the essential interests of the other, thereby drawing it into any conflict in defense of its chief economic partner."

He remarked that currently Russia and China are "peacefully challenging US domination via BRICS, the cooperation forum that offers new politico-economic options to independence-minded states."

Drawing parallels with the Second World War, the journalist recalled that Adolf Hitler "suffered the consequences of engaging in two-front war." While the US is capable of waging two separate military campaigns, it could do it only for a limited period of time, he emphasized.

However, "the vast majority of Americans are certainly not ready to die for the aim of further enriching the multi-billionaire owners of their country's aggressive war machine, so freedom of speech and the media will need to be crushed, step by step, inside the US in order to move forward to war," the Canadian political consultant concluded.

Second Round of the India-Russia Consultations on Security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), New Delhi (February 15-16, 2018) (Второй раунд индийско-российских консультаций по безопасности в использовании информационно-коммуникационных технологий (ИКТ), Нью-Дели (15-16 февраля 2018 года)) / India, February, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, digital, national_security, terrorism, mofa

The Second Round of India-Russia Consultations on Security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) were held on February 15-16, 2018 in New Delhi, pursuant to the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in ensuring security in the use of Information and communication technologies between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the Russian Federation signed on October 1.5, 2016 on the sidelines of the 8th BRICS Summit in Goa.

The Indian delegation was led by Mr Rajinder Khanna, Deputy National Security Adviser, in coordination with Dr Guishan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator. The Russian delegation was led by Mr Oleg Khrarnov, Deputy Secretary, Security Council of the Russian Federation.

Both Sides reaffirmed their common concerns relating to threats in the use of JOTs and common approaches in ensuring security in this field. Both Sides highlighted the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the use of ICTs by deepening interaction between specialized agencies.

The Head of the Russian delegation called on India' s National Security Adviser who underlined the strategic character of India- Russia relations as well as highlighted the need to strengthen cooperation in the important sphere of use of ICTs.

Both Sides reiterated intention to strengthen practical cooperation on issues relating to ensuring security in the use of ICTs, including information sharing on emerging threats in this field, exchange of technical information, capacity building including sharing ICTs to fight against its use for criminal and terrorist purposes.

The two Sides agreed that it is necessary to prevent misuse of ICTs for criminal arid terrorism purpose. In order to prevent possibilities of conflict, appropriate mechanism for ensuring security in the use of ICTs should be put in place. The two Sides stressed the significance of adopting norms, principles and rules of responsible state behavior in the use of ICTs with the UN as the key facilitator. In this respect, there is a need for the resumption of the work of a Group of Governmental Experts on Development in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security in order to develop the norms, principles and rules on security in the use of ICTs.

For the sake of further development of bilateral cooperation of security in the use of ICTs, both sides noted the necessity to consistently enhance activity by creating additional mechanisms of interaction between competent authorities and agencies as has been stated in the mentioned 2016 Bilateral Agreement.

The two Sides reaffirmed their willingness to maintain regular bilateral dialogue on issues related to ensuring security in the use of ICTs with a view to further enhancing cooperation in this area.
No Brics leader among those who first phoned President Ramaphosa, on Sunday (Никто из лидеров БРИКС не был в числе первых, кто позвонил президенту Рамафосе в воскресенье) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: political_issues, Cyril_Ramaphosa
South Africa

Not one of the five world and regional leaders who formed the first group to phone new South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday to hold preliminary discussions with, and to congratulate, him came from a Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group country. Two of the leaders were African, two European and one Middle Eastern. They were (in alphabetical order by country), Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Angolan President João Lourenço, Botswana President Ian Khama, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.

The first Brics leader scheduled to call President Ramaphosa was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron was also to hold a phone discussion with South Africa's new leader on Monday. Apart from South Africa, only two other Brics countries can be regarded as full democracies: India and Brazil. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma was popularly seen as being particularly close to his Chinese and Russian counterparts. (Over the weekend, Brazilian President Michel Temer was heavily involved in dealing with a public security crisis in Rio de Janeiro; law and order is primarily a State responsibility in Brazil, but on Friday Temer ordered the Brazilian Army to take command of law and order in Rio and also announced that he will soon create a Federal Ministry of Public Security.)

In its press release about the calls, the Presidency stated "President Ramaphosa has warmly welcomed the international interest shown in South Africa and its renewal, and expressed the hope that South Africa would strengthen its relations with partners in various parts of the world, as it continues to enhance its attractiveness as an investment destination and trade partner. This would create more opportunities for South African businesses and contribute positively to the critical effort to create more jobs in the economy."

According to the news website Sharjah24 – Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are both member states of the United Arab Emirates(UAE); indeed, Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE – Sheikh Mohammed "lauded the UAE's strong relations with South Africa and said he was looking forward to furthering co-operation in all fields for the benefit of the two friendly peoples. He also wished the people of South Africa further progress and prosperity. President Ramaphosa thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his noble feelings towards the people of South Africa and wished the UAE and its people continued progress."

In its note about the call between Presidents Lourenço and Ramaphosa, Angola's Ministry of External Relations reported that the two leaders displayed a desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation and the friendly ties between their two peoples. "During the conversation, João Lourenço invited the South African President to officially visit, in the near future, Angola, to which the South African President responded in the form of an invitation for the President of Angola to also make an official visit to South Africa." The invitations were, the Ministry stated, accepted. Diplomatic channels will now arrange the respective dates for the visits.

In London, a spokesperson for 10 Downing Street (Prime Minister May's office) stated that the "Prime Minister called President Cyril Ramaphosa this [Sunday] afternoon to congratulate him on his recent appointment. Ramaphosa welcomed the call which followed their short discussion at the World Economic Forum, and the Prime Minister extended an invitation for him to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April. President Ramaphosa confirmed that he looked forward to attending and using the opportunity to discuss deepening the UK-South Africa relationship, including by building on trade ties and working together on South Africa's transformational agenda."
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
China's Brics-Plus partnership could transform global trade (Партнерство Китая с БРИКС+ может изменить глобальную торговлю) / Ireland, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+, global_governance, economic_challenges
Author: Ellie Donnelly

There may be a backlash against globalisation in much of the West, but the club of big emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (Brics) is becoming the glue for new inter-regional trade alliances.

However, despite the creation of a common New Development Bank by the Brics, and other initiatives to boost economic ties between members, the countries are beginning to encounter limitations to further integration, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Those limitations can be overcome though, the WEF argues.

One way to overcome integration constraints is to shift the focus from trade liberalisation towards the building of a wider framework of integration and co-operation.

A framework of integration would open new gateways for co-operation among the Brics and their partners, the WEF suggests.

Key to that may be China's Brics-Plus initiative, which looks around the Brics themselves at ideas that also encompass those five regional giants' key neighbours and regional co-operation groups.

According to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, the Brics-Plus circle will represent a new platform for the South-South co-operation, through increased dialogue and partnerships led by the Brics.

Rather than expanding the number of core Bric members, the Brics-Plus initiative is aiming to create a new platform for forging regional and bilateral alliances across continents.

In addition, the initiative is aiming to bring together the regional integration blocks where each of the five Bric economies plays a leading role.

Accordingly, the main regional integration blocks that could form the Brics-Plus platform include Latin America's Mercosur, the South African Customs Union (SACU), the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC), as well as the China-ASEAN free trade agreement.

If all five blocs are integrated into a Brics-Plus circle it would encompass 35 nations and a potential partnership larger than the European Union both in terms of the number of countries and of population size.

The WEF has suggested that core areas of co-operation between and across the Brics-Plus network could include trade and investment, but could also create a major voting block within organisations like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

A Brics-Plus platform for trade and investment might ease the expansion of trade agreements across individual countries and/or regional blocks.

The WEF argues that such trade alliances would not have to follow the standard path of detailed free trade agreements, but could also involve specifically targeted and/or limited trade liberalisation through preferential trade agreements.

A key areas where a Brics-Plus would have real heft is participation in international organisations.

For example, at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the consolidated voting share of the Brics is just short of 15pc.

The addition of the Brics-Plus countries would raise the consolidated share of the vote to around 17pc, just enough to constitute a blocking stake with respect to the key decisions.

Co-operation between development banks and other development institutions formed by Brics-Plus economies, as well as a shared payments system, are among the other suggested areas of co-operation between the members, said WEF.

"The Brics-Plus initiative is not the enlargement of the Brics core to include the largest developing countries," the WEF says.

Instead, it presents an opportunity to create a network of alliances to comprehensively represent the developing world.
Russia's fire escape currency (Валюта для эвакуации России) / United Kingdom, February, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
United Kingdom
Author: Liam Sheasby

Russia could be looking utilise a new gold trading market as a 'fire escape' currency, in a targeted move away from the US Dollar and the financial and trade restrictions placed against them.

Russia has been under a combination of US sanctions and other sanctions from the West for the past three years and has suffered economically from this and the rapid increase in fracking in the US, which has in turn decreased oil prices. Russia responded by forming an oil duopoly with Saudi Arabia to restrict supplies from the Middle East and raise global prices back up, but the surplus from the US is still keeping prices down.

The Russian authorities have been publicly open about their opposition to both the US Dollar and the US government's interference with the value of the Dollar, with President Putin famously accusing them of abusing the reserve currency system.

In a speech given in 2011, Putin said: "They (America) are living beyond their means and shifting a part of the weight of their problems to the world economy… They are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar."

Back in December the First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Central Bank, Sergey Shvetsov, announced that the BRICS nations – comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – were working together to create a unified gold market.

BRICS nations represent almost three billion people, and around 20% of global GDP (gross domestic product). With Russia, China and South Africa all being large producers of gold, and Brazil, India and China all large consumers, it's not a huge leap to think that this trading market could see gold used as a currency, rather than purely acting as a purchasing system for the precious metal.

Over the past 10-15 years, Russia and China have been banking more and more gold into their reserves in a move away from reliance on the US Dollar. Russia officially holds the fifth largest gold reserves in the world, just ahead of China (unless their official statistics were a lie and they did add to their reserves) and amounting to 17% of the nation's wealth.

For China, this process has been officially halted for the past 14 months due to their close trade relationship with the US but for Russia it is an ongoing mission, with their Central Bank having more than doubled the rate of gold purchases in the past 10 years alone by adding 1,250 tonnes of gold. Russia currently sits as the largest buyer of gold bullion in the world and is the third largest producer.

The increase in buying, coupled with increased mining rates of gold ore, is driven primarily by the privatisation of state-controlled gold mining companies and consolidation of smaller gold producers, both of which allowed Russian miners to compete on the global stage.

Russia, China and the other BRICS nations might not have quite the same figures as the US, Germany, Italy and France, but in combination their figures surpass all but the United States, and even their gold reserve numbers are believed to be over-estimated and less than pure gold bullion. A shared market could see growth taken away from the top tier nations and brought in to this hub and, given the success of the past decade for Russia's stockpiling of gold, it's not beyond them to have another great decade of wealth accumulation to challenge the USA as the world leader in gold and to use that gold to negate the penalties faced when trading uses the US Dollar.
NDB and government of India sign facility framework agreement and loan agreement for Rajasthan water sector restructuring project for desert areas (НБР и правительство Индии подписывают рамочное соглашение по общим условиям и соглашение о займе для проекта реструктуризации водного сектора Раджастхана для пустынных районов) / China, February, 2018
Keywords: investments, concluded_agreements, ndb

On 13 February 2018, the New Development Bank (NDB), the Government of India and the Government of Rajasthan signed the Facility Framework Agreement for financing of Rajasthan Water Sector Restructuring Project for the Desert Areas, under which the Bank has agreed to provide multi-tranche financing facility for an amount aggregating to USD 345 mln. Loan Agreement and Project Agreement for the first tranche loan of USD 100 mln approved by the NDB under the multi-tranche financing facility were also signed.

The objective of the project is to rehabilitate the 678 km long Indira Gandhi Canal system built during 1958-63 to prevent seepage, conserve water, and enhance water-use efficiency as mandated by both national and state-level policies on water use. The execution of the project would generate multiple benefits such as:

  • Arresting the seepage by rehabilitating the deteriorating canal lining of the Indira Gandhi Nahar Project which needs urgent attention;
  • Rehabilitation of waterlogged areas;
  • Modernization and optimization of the irrigation management practices in the project area by involvement of the water users' associations in the command area;
  • Strengthening of drinking water supply and irrigation facilities in the project area.
The Facility Framework Agreement was signed by Mr. Govind Mohan, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India, Mr. Shaohua Wu, Director General, Project Financing on behalf of the NDB and Mr. Shikhar Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Department on behalf of the Government of Rajasthan.

The Loan Agreement was signed by Mr. Govind Mohan, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Shaohua Wu, Director General, Project Financing on behalf of the NDB.

The Project Agreement was signed by Mr. Shikhar Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Department on behalf of the Government of Rajasthan and Mr. Shaohua Wu, Director General, Project Financing on behalf of the NDB.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Op-Ed: SA's foreign policy – towards greater strategic partnerships post-Zuma (Авторская колонка: внешняя политика SA - к более широким стратегическим партнерствам после Зума) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Luanda Mpungose

South Africa's 2019 general elections will be a critical moment for democracy as the country welcomes a post-Zuma future. Equally important is the impact of his presidency on South Africa's international standing.

South Africa's foreign policy under President Jacob Zuma bears consideration: exploring the direction and key achievements and shortcomings/failures during his tenure. To what extent has South Africa's foreign policy in the Zuma administration responded to domestic and continental needs?

Historically, the Mandela administration reintegrated post-apartheid South Africa into the global community, while restoring a positive image of South Africa in institutions like the United Nations (UN) and the South African Development Community (SADC). Nelson Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki, focused primarily on Africa's development with his "African Renaissance" philosophy that emphasised "African Solutions to African Problems" and encouraged African Unity. He was the founding father of key African institutions and frameworks like the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Under Zuma's presidency perhaps the most notable achievements were South Africa joining the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) grouping in 2011, as well as strengthening South Africa's relationship with China and continued the call for a more representative and equitable governance structure in global multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organisation and United Nations Security Council (UNSC). On the domestic front though, the Zuma administration has flagrantly contradicted SA's commitment to human rights and Ubuntu, enshrined in the Constitution and embodied in Mandela's leadership.

Events like the Marikana Massacre in August 2012, where police opened fire on striking mineworkers in South Africa's platinum mining belt, have demonstrated a dangerous slippage in South Africa's commitment to human rights.

South Africa has seen a 96% increase in protests since 2010, including service delivery protests, according to the Institute of Race Relations. Given the history of police brutality during the apartheid era, the August 2012 killing of 34 Marikana mine workers by police remains a permanent stain on the country's human rights record.

South Africa decided to withdraw from the ICC following widespread condemnation of the government's failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country for the 2015 AU-Summit. Bashir has evaded the ICC indictment since 2009 and is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes. The attempt to withdraw has marred international perceptions of South Africa as a protector of human rights.

In February 2017, the Pretoria high court blocked the withdrawal, stating it was unconstitutional and invalid without prior parliamentary approval. Justice Minister Michael Masutha has said that the government is determined to pursue withdrawal and in December 2017, tabled a bill that seeks to repeal the Implementation of the Rome Statute Act and withdraw South Africa from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In defending its decision to withdraw, the South African government argues that the ICC is an instrument used unfairly against African countries and fails to hold western powers (some of which like the US, are not ICC members) to the same standards. A similar argument was made by Burundi, which withdrew from the ICC last October.

As is stands, institutions like the African Union have demonstrated limitations in holding leaders who have committed crimes against humanity to account. While the African Court of Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) already exists, it is unlikely to be an effective alternative to the ICC considering that the 2014 Malabo Declaration statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights has not been ratified by member states.

South Africa's role in Africa has been significant on many fronts including peace keeping operations and trade. It has one of the biggest economies on the continent with a gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $301-billion in 2016, with advanced infrastructure. Post-apartheid South Africa has been a promoter and champion of peace and development on the continent, having facilitated and/or mediated political negotiations in SADC (Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe). The country has also been active in Francophone Africa after President Mbeki facilitated talks in Côte d'Ivoire in ethnic-motivated conflicts in 2006.

The country has been engaged in various peacekeeping operations in several African countries including Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. South Africa has deployed troops as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in eastern DRC since 1999 when the second Congo war broke out. This was extended last April 2017 to March 2018. South Africa also took over as commander of the UN Force Intervention Brigade in January 2015, an extension of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) mandated by the United Nations Security Council and acting on recommendations of former UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon.

While South Africa has been involved in UN peace keeping operations under the Zuma-led government, there has been less involvement in strengthening key institutions and instruments like the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) - a treaty created in the AU to encourage better governance in Africa which coincides to a large extent with South Africa's developmental aspirations for the continent. Mbeki's engagement in the region was more holistic.

The South African APRM Country Review Report in 2007 forewarned the rise of xenophobia due to growing hostility towards foreign nationals by locals. In 2008, violent attacks broke out resulting in the deaths of more than 60 foreign nationals. There was more violence in 2015 which President Zuma condemned and appealed to South Africans not to blame criminal acts on foreign nationals.

There have been numerous related incidents since, including an anti-foreigners march in Pretoria in February 2017. In a televised speech in response to the anti-foreigner's march, Zuma remarked: "The march in Pretoria today, which was also attended by foreign nationals, was anti-crime not anti-foreigners and we appeal to all the marchers to protest within the confines of the law."

Both Presidents Mbeki and Zuma have denied that such acts can be labelled as xenophobic on the basis that South Africa hosts more immigrants than Europe, and African countries were so hospitable to exiles from South Africa historically.

This flagrant denial of a concerning phenomenon further strains South Africa's relationship with the rest of the continent, particularly with countries like Nigeria which recalled its ambassador after the 2015 attacks. Although South Africa's relationship with Nigeria has often been rocky, xenophobic incidents have further diminished South Africa's position as a continental leader.

This year marks 20 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the People's Republic of China (PRC). Apartheid South Africa had strong ties with Taiwan before the ANC switched allegiance to the PRC in 1998. Although ties with Beijing under Mbeki appeared to be somewhat superficial, with continental development taking priority, a key development included the formulation of a bi-national Commission in December 2001 and the elevation of ties in the second bi-national commission in June 2004 to a Strategic Partnership which saw South Africa granting market economy status to China. This entails the lowering of anti-dumping duties and/or imposing quantitative restrictions to protect domestic industries. It was no secret that Mbeki had some reservations about China's trade interests, warning Africa to ensure China's engagements are not merely a different form of colonialism of Africa.

China was not a high priority for the Mbeki administration. Mbeki took longer than Zuma to advance relations with China; the formulation of a Bi-National Commission and signing of a Strategic Partnership took place two years after he assumed power in May 1999. However, South Africa's engagement with China strengthened with an announcement of upgrading relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) on Zuma's first state visit there in 2010 having assumed power in 2009.

While economic and political relations continue to deepen with China, there is a relative decline in diplomatic and trade relations with the West, particularly with the United States of America (USA). Tensions between SA and the US arose in 2015 when then US President Barack Obama threatened to rescind South Africa's duty-free access for certain exports to US markets under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This occurred following South Africa's imposition of anti-dumping duties against US chicken to protect domestic markets. Between 2012 and 2013, US chicken exports declined by 33% because of the market barriers imposed by South Africa. Ultimately, South Africa made a compromise to keep AGOA benefits and allow some concessions of US meat into its markets. AGOA expires in 2025 and there are three options that remain: to do nothing and revert to WTO regulations, a partial trade agreement or full trade agreement. There has been no indication what will happen post 2025.

Africa has appeared to be a low priority for the Donald Trump administration, with his agenda primarily looking inward to put America First. He hosted nine African countries during the 2017 United Nations General Assembly for a luncheon, calling for Africa to invest in the United States and help defeat terrorism.

More than a year into Trump's presidency, several senior positions remain vacant including the US ambassador to South Africa. This indicates deteriorating relations between the two nations.

Meanwhile, China has emerged as a key player with the second largest economy and driver of a global agenda, while the US's power recedes. From this perspective, South Africa's partnership with China is beneficial for the co-ordination of common interests which include advancing of national interests, South-South co-operation and the AU Agenda 2063 which is a strategic framework for the continent's socio-economic transformation. However, there are concerns that South Africa has not done enough to maintain strategic partnerships with countries other than China, while China continues to maintain strategic relations with its "rivals" (United States of America) and other key actors such as the EU for commercial purposes.

China has become South Africa's biggest trade partner during Zuma's presidency, mainly importing raw materials from South Africa and exporting manufactured goods. Statisticsfrom the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show that by October 2017, South Africa had a trade deficit of 9.2% with China compared with 5.1 % with Germany – an EU member and second largest trade partner to South Africa. This trade imbalance and quality of trade relationship goes against the ideals of win-win cooperation. This calls for more robust and strategic measures in the nation's foreign policy trajectory to respond to domestic needs by promoting trade with other regions.

The admission of South Africa into the BRICS grouping of emerging markets was a crowning achievement for the Zuma administration in 2011, allowing the nation to potentially advance its national interests, develop infrastructure and promote regional integration, as well as give substance to its interests in South-South co-operation. However, this membership drew criticism and cynicism by media and economists due to South Africa's relatively small economy and slow economic growth when compared to its "new friends".

It is South Africa's friendship with China, elevated under Zuma, which proved advantageous and valuable considering that Nigeria – Africa's largest economy, also had an interest in joining the group, remarked the outgoing chairman of the Manufactures Association of Nigeria, John Aluya.

"Consistent with the spirit of inclusivity, any partnership with Africa must benefit the whole continent and encompass a holistic approach," Zuma remarked at an informal meeting of BRICS leaders on the margins of the Group of 20 (G20) in July 2017. South Africa drove the call for a BRICS bank to finance infrastructure development across the continent at the eThekwini Summit in 2013. In line with the summit declaration, The New Development Bank (NDB) was launched in July 2014 in Shanghai. Last year Zuma launched the African Regional Centre (ARC), with the purpose of financing sustainable infrastructure development projects, particularly in South Africa and in the region.

In a first, South Africa invited the chairs of African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to attend the 2013 eThekwini Summit as observers and allowed them side-line meetings with BRICS heads of state. This practice has been adopted in subsequent BRICS summits.

"With so many big powers in the BRICS, South Africa's role has become that of a mediator and influencer in disagreements and adoption of summit resolutions," remarked a DIRCO official at a BRICS dialogue in Pretoria in October 2017. This further underscores South Africa's relevance and position within the grouping.

Similarly to the BRICS, South Africa's role as the only African state in the G20 is catalysing the African Agenda. Zuma said in a statement after the G20 Hamburg Summit in July 2017: "Despite disagreements on certain issues, the Summit managed to discuss and agree on various developmental matters that would be of advantage to South Africa and the African continent including the launch of the G20 Africa Partnership. The partnership will include developmental projects such as G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment in developing countries with a focus on Africa."

Zuma is dogged by numerous scandals which have impacted on South Africa's global image and financial reputation.

From a regional perspective, South Africa, with Zuma at the helm, evolved from being a strategic and intellectual founder of key influential institutions on the continent to a multilateral actor with vested interest in aligning with emerging powers. Whereas the African agenda was a priority for Mbeki, Zuma tended to advance Africa's interests through multilateral platforms like the G20, BRICS and FOCAC. He called for the reform of existing global financing institutions as well as infrastructure development, notwithstanding the criticism by other African states that South Africa was furthering its own interests. Zuma's legacy will also be associated with achievements in BRICS, the ARC and deepened relations with China. South Africa admittance to BRICS has been beneficial in placing South Africa at the table in discussions that shape the global agenda.

For South Africa to successfully further its foreign policy objectives in the Cyril Ramaphosa era (assuming the high probability that the ANC will win the 2019 national elections), the incoming administration needs to incorporate numerous changes in its approach.

Firstly, as a basis for the promotion of the nation's position and image, the administration needs to clearly define norms and values, such as human rights, that are central pillars in its foreign policy. Secondly, in the vision to bring about continental development, there is a need to strengthen African institutions like the AU through financing and implementation of measures set out in ACDEG to improve the state of governance in the continent and for South Africa to regain global confidence. Finally, adopting a more pragmatic approach and diversifying relations with other global actors other than China for commercial purposes and to respond to domestic needs. DM
A guide to a new South Africa (Гид по новой ЮАР) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: political_issues, Cyril_Ramaphosa, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Fred Phaswana

Jacob Zuma has resigned as South Africa's president – an inevitable move, following the African National Congress' withdrawal of its support. Two decades after Nelson Mandela tried – and failed – to pass the presidency to Cyril Ramaphosa, the former deputy president and current ANC head has become South Africa's leader. And the challenges that Ramaphosa will face are almost as daunting as those Mandela confronted in lifting his country from the ruins of apartheid.

Nearly a quarter-century ago, four years after Mandela was released from prison, South Africans celebrated the birth of an inclusive, constitutional state. During Zuma's tenure, however, that euphoria evaporated. Amid allegations of endemic corruption, ratings downgrades, corporate malfeasance, and deepening malaise among state-owned enterprises (SOEs), South Africa's regional and international standing weakened.

For many, Ramaphosa represents a return to national strength. He has vowed to restore credibilityto the management of South Africa's affairs, and to reinvigorate the values of democratic inclusion. His simple gestures, like starting meetings and rallies on time, are departures from Zuma's more aloof approach.

But returning accountability and good governance to South Africa will require much more than punctuality. Three key areas will need urgent attention if the country's incoming leader is to chart a new course.

The first challenge, restoring faith in the country's rule of law, may be the hardest to meet. Zuma's "capture" of businesses, the National Prosecuting Authority, and cabinet appointments. was so complete that untangling the webs of influence will take time. But restoring public confidence in these vital institutions must be made a top priority.

Second, Ramaphosa's government, whenever it is seated, will need to move quickly to reform the state's relationship with SOEs. Zuma treated these businesses as vehicles for personal gain, and their mismanagement undermined economic growth and development. An economy characterised by poverty, inequality, and unemployment will never recover if the drivers of wealth are not operating effectively.

For example, mining continues to be a significant contributor to the South African economy; if managed properly, the sector could be a powerful lever for supporting the growth of upstream manufacturing. South Africa has some of the world's largest deposits of chrome and manganese, minerals that are essential for the manufacture of electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other components of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Unfortunately, because Zuma's government misused resource wealth by redistributing mineral rents to loyal clients, trust between the mining industry and the state is nonexistent. And the only way to restore it – and thereby increase exploration and production – will be to overhaul legislation and regulation to ensure stronger protection of industry interests.

Restoring trust and accountability to the business environment would attract investment, create jobs, fill state coffers, and improve redistribution, especially to those for whom employment prospects remain limited. This final point is key; in recent years, South Africa's welfare programs have been threatened by poor governance and mismanagement, and can be reformed only if economic growth returns.

Finally, Ramaphosa will need to invest heavily in South Africa's education system, a sector that Zuma largely neglected. A good place to begin would be with early childhood education, where spending often yields high long-term rewards. With the youth unemployment rate currently at a staggering 39%; putting more young people to work will require rethinking how future generations are trained.

South Africa is a small country, but with the right reform-minded leadership, it can reassume its regional role as an economic and political powerhouse. In fact, this may be the ideal time to make changes at the top; much of Africa is undergoing similar shifts, which could bring new opportunities for economic cooperation. In neighboring Zimbabwe, for example, the end of Robert Mugabe's misrule could reignite growth linked not only to natural resources, but also to value-added products, services, and trade.

As South Africa navigates its own presidential transition, the country must redefine its role in an evolving geopolitical landscape. To do that, the country must reassert its role as an influential actor, while pursuing a more dynamic, effective, and integrated investment strategy. Strong diplomacy and commercial outreach will be essential, and South Africa's leaders should embrace and develop membership in economic clubs, like the BRICS group of major emerging economies (which also includes Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

South Africans are ready for new leadership. But to achieve a future defined by full employment, social justice, strong governance, and international credibility – the era that Mandela represented – Ramaphosa will need to return to the path from which Zuma so egregiously strayed.

Fred Phaswana is National Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs.

Gauteng puts best foot forward ahead of 10th BRICS summit in Joburg (Для Гаутенга делают все лучшее перед 10-м саммитом BRICS в Йоханнесбурге) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, social_issues, SA_Chairmanship
South Africa
Author: Musa Ndlangamandla

Pushing investment and inclusive economic growth will be high on the agenda as the Gauteng Province welcomes powerful heads of state from the BRICS alliance of nations, leaders in business and technology futurists for the 10th BRICS Summit on July 25 – 27, 2018.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura and his team have put in place a carefully coordinated logistics package to ensure that the historic BRICS Summit delivers on the set pillars of a more broad-based and socially inclusive growth trajectory for South Africa and the greater continent.

To be held in the City of Johannesburg, the Summit will also be used as the pedestal to showcase Africa as a continent with vast opportunities for investment, trade and tourism.

South Africa will take over the presidency of BRICS from China.

This is also an opportunity to push the wider African development agenda, and strengthen its voice in global affairs.

"The municipalities and people of this region refuse to be left behind or left out of every development plan and progress in the transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation of Gauteng. They are proudly part and parcel of the Gauteng City Region," said Premier Makhura when delivering the State of the Province, last year.

The province supports the development of priority sectors within the Gauteng economy. It is focused on building local and regional economies for sustainable livelihoods, and to fight poverty and lack. Indications are, the team has hit the ground running with efforts to enhance the economic competitiveness of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), accelerate sector support and development, whilst creating an enabling environment and promoting a green economy.

The Summit will also go a long way in inching the province closer to its target for job creation.

"In order to significantly decrease unemployment, we need to double this number and reach at least 600 000 new jobs over a two-year period from 2017 till 2019.The rapid implementation of the new Provincial Economic Development Plan which has been embraced by all stakeholders will be the priority focus of Team Gauteng in partnership with municipalities and social partners."

According to the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) the province covers just 1.4% of South Africa's land area but it produces about a third of South Africa's gross domestic products (GDP). It is highly urbanised with more than 12.2 million people living within the province's borders, accounting for almost one quarter (23.7 percent) of the total South African population. Gauteng province is home to a vibrant and diverse population, reflected in a multitude of races, religions, cultures and ethnicities

Premier Makhura notes in various investment attraction events that the province has become known as the "Gateway to Africa," an attractive place for investments on the continent.

The province offers:

  • Access to the wider African markets
  • Functional national and provincial institutions to serve investors and protect their rights
  • Clear and consistent economic policies in line with national policies
  • World-class infrastructure and facilities
  • World-class and interconnected air, freight and road networks
  • An investor friendly environment
  • A reliable pool of young, highly skilled personnel, whose skill sets match the needs of modern manufacturing, finance and engineering industries; as well as a large pool of semi-skilled people for the manufacturing, trade and transport sectors
  • Low land and commercial building costs
  • Reliable supply of energy and electricity which is among the cheapest in the world.
Concerted efforts are made by the province to diversify and consistently strengthen the economy. Whereas mining used to account for Gauteng's dominance of the regional economy, the province is now a leader in a wide range of other sectors: finance, Agriculture and agro-processing; manufacturing, commerce, ICT and media among them.

Moreover, the province is working in close collaboration with Gauteng-based universities and research institutes to ensure that they contribute to the drive to strengthen Gauteng's pole position continentally as the leader in innovation, research, development and knowledge-based economy. That adds currency to the promise of a new future-oriented economy that is fast gaining ground.

"We will be significant participants in the fourth industrial revolution,"asserts Premier Makhura.

Fast Facts:

  • Gauteng's ability to attract FDI is unparalleled. Between 2014 and 2016, our provincial economy attracted R66 billion worth of FDI inflows.
  • The Gauteng Investment Centre, the province's "one-stop shop", and the team at the GGDA are doing well in making the province a preferred investment destination.
  • Gauteng receives the largest number of foreign tourists (41.4%) of the total.
  • The Gauteng Provincial Government has reached a critical point wherein 91% of its procurement budget of R46 billion over is directed to empower black people, women, youth and people with disabilities.
  • Of the 12 000 companies that conduct business with the provincial administration, 10 000 of them belong to historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs), including township enterprises.
This is in resonance with the new wave of optimism in the ANC and country's leadership. In the January 8 Statement, Ramaphosa said: "Our membership of BRICS is an important tool to enhance multilateralism and we must leverage our 2018 chairpersonship of BRICS for the advancement of South Africa's national interests and the promotion of a more equitable world order."

The response of the Gauteng province is to express gratitude and express a sense that they are encouraged to note that the leadership of the governing party embraces the membership to BRICS.

With growing global challenges which are getting more and more complicated by the day, threatening to disrupt global peace and goodwill cooperation among BRICS countries has never been more crucial. South Africa's presence in BRICS is not just for the country, but for the benefit of the whole continent of Africa.

A Soweto based entrepreneur Sokhelo Zwane urged all South Africans and people of greater Africa to embrace the opportunities as presented by BRICS.

Äs a nation we are known to close ranks and show our best side when it comes to such big international events.

"We should all work together as South Africans, from government, the private sector, public institutions, civil society and communities to ensure the success of the BRICS Summit that will be hosted in Johannesburg this year.

We have the power, the mindset and the correct attitude as South Africans, and indeed the greater continent to deliver a successful Summit filled with warmth, inspiration and pride. We delivered the most successful event in 2010 in the history of the World Cup Tournament.

We can do so even this time around," Zwane said.
Why SA struggles to lead in Africa (Почему у ЮАР не получается лидировать в Африке) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance
South Africa
Author: James Hamill

'To See Ourselves as Others See Us': Why South Africa Struggles to Lead in Africa

Democratic South Africa's standing on the African continent presents us with something of a paradox. Much has been expected of South Africa as an African leader from beyond the continent, from both Western blocs like the G7 or non-Western coalitions such as the BRICS. South Africa has been expected to lead Africa and to serve as its principal interlocutor with the international community. It is also expected to be Africa's chief representative in multilateral organisations, its principal conflict manager and, in some quarters at least, to champion a set of democratic norms and values.

Yet the lesson of the post-1994 period is that South Africa has consistently struggled to deliver under this weight of expectation – and its African record has been punctuated by a series of failures as it struggles to translate material power into tangible foreign policy achievement. Indeed, it is noteworthy and troubling that the calls for South Africa to embrace the role of Africa's leader – its indispensable nation – have been more loudly and insistently voiced from outside the continent than from within it.

This is not to argue that South Africa's African record has been one of unambiguous failure but rather to point out that those failures have been surprisingly frequent for a state widely held to be the continent's natural leader. Under President Mandela there were notable failures in Angola (1994), Nigeria (1995) and Zaire/DRC (1997-8). President Mbeki struggled to return Zimbabwe to a degree of political stability between 2000 and 2008 (not least because of the overtly partisan nature of his 'quiet diplomacy') and President Zuma had major setbacks in Libya (2011) and the Central African Republic (2013).

How then is South Africa's distinctly chequered performance to be explained? A variety of factors are at work which, taken collectively, have compromised and continue to compromise the country's ability to lead in Africa. This article, however, focuses on one key aspect of this debate: the gulf between on one hand South Africa's view of the role it is playing in Africa and, on the other, how it is actually perceived on the continent. It argues that South Africa's deep-seated image or reputational problems on the continent means that it lacks the gravitational pull – the appeal and depth of support – to draw African states into its orbit which is the hallmark of a truly great regional power.

An untypical African state

South Africa is not a typical African state and that fact frustrates the continental leadership ambitions it harbours. It is still a relative newcomer to continental diplomacy, it has a substantial and powerful white minority, and an economy which dwarfs those of most African states and is closely integrated with the global economy. It is also politically and constitutionally different from the continent.

South Africa's 1996 Constitution and the various institutions created by it, its independent judiciary, thriving civil society and free media are all firmly rooted in the Western constitutional, liberal democratic tradition. It is certainly true that the damaging excesses of the Zuma era have brought South Africa into a much closer alignment with the typical post-independence African narrative characterised by neo-patrimonialism, 'big man' politics and the rampant accumulation of predatory elites.

However, even that lengthy period of egregious misrule has been unable to erode the basic foundational pillars of South African democracy which have shown a remarkable resilience. In this respect it is worth noting the country's vibrant press and the investigative journalism it has triggered as evidenced by the detailed explorations of the 'state capture' phenomenon in recent books by Jacques Pauw and Adriaan Basson and du Toit. [i]

Robust defences of constitutional government have also been provided by the office of the Public Protector during Thuli Madonsela's tenure, the Save South Africa movement and a whole raft of civil society initiatives, as well as the counter-attack by constitutionalists in the ANC itself anxious to place the organisation on a nobler political trajectory.

The cumulative impact of all this is to effectively make South Africa sui generis in Africa. That is a double-edged sword, however. It may in theory qualify the country for African leadership – it has assets few others can match - but on another level that very difference attracts hostility and suspicion which makes any attempt to assert leadership and generate 'followership' extremely problematic.

This is highlighted by South Africa's position within global multilateral forums where it has consistently viewed its status as the only African member of the G-20 and BRICS and the sole African state among the European Union's 10 global strategic partners – in addition to its terms as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council – as an opportunity to 'represent' Africa and to advance the 'African agenda'.

It has become a centrepiece of South African foreign policy discourse that the country will use its global status to 'serve the people of Africa', in the words of former foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma [ii] or to 'discharge its pan-African obligations' in the phrase of President Zuma's foreign minister, Maite Nkoana Mashabane. [iii]

Yet the idea that the South African interest and the wider African interest are synonymous is not accepted on the continent where South Africa's self-appointed status as Africa's advocate is viewed as highly paternalistic and of questionable legitimacy. It is felt that South Africa will naturally gravitate towards other leading states of the Global South in the BRICS or the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) trilateral forum (even if this has failed to develop as originally envisaged) and will have more in common with such states than with the poorer states in its own region.

For example, what qualifies South Africa to speak on behalf of Benin, Togo or Sierra Leone in discussions at the World Trade Organisation, the Bretton Woods institutions or deliberations at the UN? African states believe – not always unreasonably – that South Africa is using its political and economic heft and its membership of these bodies principally as a means of maximising its own interests and securing greater leverage for itself within the international system rather than seeking its democratisation per se or to promote the African interest.

While the obvious retort to this point is that all states automatically pursue their own interests in global diplomacy, South Africa is hampered in this regard by – and will be judged against – its own rhetoric which raised expectations about the role it would play on the continent. To now simply jettison Thabo Mbeki's 'African Renaissance' vision and scale down its commitments to Africa will invite ridicule and disdain in view of these previous undertakings even if there are compelling domestic reasons to do precisely that.

In short, South Africa finds itself hoist with its own petard and risks overpromising and under-delivering, the essence of bad foreign policy. Here we see that South Africa is impaled on the horns of a dilemma – damned if it does, damned if it doesn't - much like the United States at the global level. Attempts to assert itself In Africa are viewed as domineering and unwelcome yet reducing its role and focusing upon domestic priorities will inevitably draw the accusation that it is abdicating its African responsibilities.

This, in turn, is likely to create major diplomatic difficulties for South Africa as the assumption that it will play a welcome, benign and largely uncontested leadership role on the continent is intimately linked to the high global profile it enjoys. For example, that African leadership role was instrumental in securing the 2010 invitation to join the BRICS grouping where South African membership gives an important African dimension to that organisation's work.

Equally, South Africa is viewed in the West as the country best placed to provide continental leadership, we can recall, for example, President George W Bush's 2003 description of President Mbeki as the 'point man' on the Zimbabwe crisis. Should South Africa flounder in Africa not only will it lose much of its influence in the BRICS but the entire rationale for its membership will collapse given how far behind its co-members it lags in geographical size, population and economic weight. South Africa's role as an authentic African leader and its strong global profile are therefore closely interwoven and anything undermining the former invariably damages the latter.

Xenophobic attacks

While the South African presumption that it speaks for Africa creates a backdrop of suspicion and resentment, the xenophobic attacks launched against the citizens of other African states in South Africa have served to crystallise many of the concerns those states have about South Africa.

Although those attacks had significant peaks in 2008 and 2015, they remain an ongoing phenomenon in the townships and informal settlements around the country as poorer South Africans scapegoat other Africans for every conceivable socio-economic ill: unemployment, the lack of housing, access to services, HIV/AIDS, and crime.

For African states, however, the murder, dispossession and forced removal of thousands of their nationals in South Africa offers the starkest possible contrast with the support, sanctuary and solidarity they extended to South Africans – not least both senior and rank and file members of the ANC itself – over the four decades of the anti-apartheid struggle.

This has had a destructive impact upon South Africa's standing on the continent confirming the view of many in Africa that South Africa remains a state with a chronically under-developed African identity. In fact, the accusation levelled at the new South Africa in the wake of these attacks is almost identical to that once made against the apartheid regime, namely, that it is a state geographically in but not truly ofAfrica. That such a comparison can even be contemplated is a serious blow to an ANC government whose self-image is that of a state acutely conscious of its obligations and responsibilities to Africa.

The new South Africa and regional economic imbalances

The expansion of South African economic engagement in Africa has, alongside the enormous growth in trade with China, been one of the principal features of its foreign economic relations since 1994, even if there remains considerable scope for further expansion beyond the SADC zone. Yet this expansion has hardly been welcomed with acclaim in Africa.

Despite the moralistic pronouncements stressing its commitment to more equitable regional economic arrangements, Pretoria has been accused of being an opportunistic and self-interested actor on trade issues, proceeding largely without reference to the interests and concerns of other African states.

Far from addressing existing imbalances such mercantilist approaches have, it is argued, served to consolidate and extend them. These economic imbalances are most pronounced in southern Africa where South Africa accounts for 68 % of SADC GDP and since 1994 it has continued to enjoy massive trade surpluses within the sub-region. The SADC takes 86% of South Africa's total African exports with South Africa exporting six times more goods to the rest of SADC than it imports (in the rest of Africa this falls only slightly with South Africa exporting five times more goods than it imports).

In addition, South Africa has been accused of utilising a range of non-tariff barriers against other SADC states, particularly targeting food, agriculture and textiles, the very products neighbouring states are looking to export to South Africa. Not only is this a means of circumventing the sub-region's formal adoption of a free trade area, it also repudiates the notion of South Africa as a champion of African development despite the language of solidarity which lace its foreign policy statements.

South African companies have also expanded into the African market since 1994 and are now active across a wide range of sectors on the continent but they too have been met with a lukewarm and often hostile reception. The South African corporate sector continues to be labelled as 'as predatory', 'arrogant' or 'neo-colonial' and generally insensitive to the concerns of host states.

They are accused of stifling local entrepreneurial activity, driving local companies out of business, exploiting cheap labour regimes and generally ignoring any wider sense of corporate social responsibility. While the actions of the private sector are not controlled by the South African state, that distinction may become blurred in African countries and the overall South African 'brand' may be contaminated as a result, particularly as, in many African states, South African companies are the only real point of contact ordinary people have with South Africans.

Of course, many of these charges against South Africa are unfair and one-dimensional scarcely doing justice to its highly complex and varied role on the continent. South Africa has played a valuable, if not always successful, role in African mediation and conflict resolution, in building African institutions, in the provision of disaster and humanitarian relief, development assistance and in wealth redistribution via the Southern African Customs Union. [iv]

Moreover, although their activities are hardly unblemished, South African companies have played a key role in Africa in reviving long dormant economic sectors, rebuilding the transport infrastructure, transferring skills and technology, expanding consumer choice and providing a better quality of goods, as well as bringing more effective managerial skills to African economies.

These are considerable achievements and the fact they have often been buried beneath an avalanche of negativity points to a major failure in the effectiveness of South African public diplomacy – and of the Department of international Relations and Co-Operation in particular – which has been unable to challenge these deeply embedded, if often inaccurate, perceptions of the South African role on the continent.

However, perceptions remain a crucial aspect of politics and these, alongside, at best, an ambivalence towards the South African models of democracy and conflict resolution, continue to place serious constraints on what is achievable for South Africa on the continent. When added to the growing material weaknesses of South Africa - its economy is languishing in the doldrums with lethargic rates of growth and there has been an alarming decline in the capabilities of its military[v] - it is clear that the country will be compelled to adapt to life in a multi-polar Africa where South Africa, although still much more than 'just another country', will be one of a number of important states seeking to manage the continent rather than the pre-eminent African power.

This may offer scope for constructive partnerships and a welcome burden sharing in the advancement of the African agenda but it may also be a prelude to discord and paralysis which will create greater openings for external powers thus undermining the idea of 'African solutions to African problems' which sustains the African Union.

James Hamill is a lecturer in the School of History, Politics & International Relations at the University of Leicester, UK. His new book "Africa's Lost Leader: South Africa's Continental Role Since Apartheid" was published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in January 2018. It can be bought on Amazon Kindle here.


[i] Jacques Pauw, The President's Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma In Power and Out of Prison (Tafelberg, 2017) and Adriaan Basson and Pieter du Toit, Enemy of the People: How Jacob Zuma Stole South Africa and How The People Fought Back (Jonathan Ball, 2017)

[ii] Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Suzanne Graham, 'South Africa's Voting Behaviour at the United Nations Security Council: A Case of Boxing Mbeki and Unpacking Zuma' in Lesley Masters Siphamandla Zondi, Jo-Ansie Van Wyk and Chris Landsberg (eds), South African Foreign Policy Review: Volume 2 (Africa Institute of South Africa, 2015), p.74

[iii] Maite Nkoane-Mashabane in Deon Geldenhuys, The Challenges of Good Global Citizenship: Ten Tenets of South Africa's Foreign Policy', Africa Review, vol. 3, 2, 2011, p. 183.

[iv] Alexander O'Riordan, 'Is South Africa the World's Most Generous Donor?' South African Civil Society Information Service, 18 March 2015

[v] Wendell Roelf 'South African Military in Critical Decline, Review Says', Reuters, 25 March 2014
Assessing South Africa's 'Ramaphosa moment' (Оценивая "момент Рамафозы" в ЮАР) / United Kingdom, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, Cyril_Ramaphosa
United Kingdom
Author: James Hamill

The end of a disgraced and squalid presidency, one that reduced the country to a post-1994 nadir, is naturally a moment of hope for South Africa. The new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was very quick to give momentum to this new mood of optimism and renewal in his first State of the Nation Address on 16 February. During an uplifting speech, he signalled his determination to restore the country's democratic credentials and to address (and hopefully reverse) what had become the defining features of the Jacob Zuma era: the institutionalised corruption, nepotism and capture of state institutions by a predatory elite. The speech also highlighted his desire to return South Africa to the philosophy and values informing the presidency of Nelson Mandela from which the country has steadily drifted since his retirement in 1999.

There is a palpable sense of international relief at this long-overdue transition. South Africa under Zuma was believed to be on a one-way street to disaster: its image was badly tarnished by a descent into kleptocracy, near-constant scandals, the politicisation of the criminal justice system, and a floundering economy that the ratings agencies had consigned to junk status. The reservoir of international goodwill built up by South Africa's post-1990 democratic transition and the reconciliation policies of Mandela has been largely drained away, first by Thabo Mbeki's eccentricities on the HIV/AIDS pandemic and his stubborn defence of the egregious misrule of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and then by a squandered decade of drift and venality under Zuma.

Ramaphosa's agenda The assault on corruption promised by Ramaphosa will be a formidable undertaking given that corrupt patronage networks, whose raison d'être is to loot state resources, are now entrenched within the African National Congress (ANC) at national, provincial and local levels. Any attempt to uproot these local mafias is likely to encounter intense resistance. The success of this campaign will be vital, however, if Ramaphosa is to build a more 'moral' economy in which public resources are no longer brazenly embezzled, but are instead directed towards service delivery and providing the elusive 'better life for all'.

Returning South Africa to economic stability and good governance is also crucial to the country's prospects of attracting investment and addressing its two most pressing, if overlapping, domestic challenges: the catastrophic levels of unemployment, which stood at 27.7% at the end of 2017; and the crisis in its education system. South Africa routinely languishes at the bottom of global league tables in maths and science and, consequently, is failing to produce the steady flow of numerate, literate and technically qualified graduates that a modern, dynamic economy requires.

Domestic and foreign policy are clearly interwoven, and Ramaphosa's drive for clean, orderly and rational government at home will greatly enhance the country's diminished global standing, but he remains an unknown quantity in terms of foreign policy. His career trajectory has taken him from the domestic trade union movement and the broader mass democratic movement against apartheid in the 1980s, to becoming the ANC's chief constitutional negotiator in the early 1990s, and thereafter a career in business before returning to frontline ANC politics in 2012. This provides him with a wealth of experience, which will serve him well in the presidency, but very little of it has been acquired in the foreign policy realm beyond a so far unsuccessful attempt to mediate between the warring factions in South Sudan.

The State of the Nation address itself was largely silent on the question of foreign affairs and South Africa's place in the world. That said, two key areas of the country's foreign relations do provide some hints of Ramaphosa's likely foreign-policy direction: its global role, particularly relations within the BRICS and towards the West; and its role within the African continent.

South Africa as a global actor South African foreign relations under both Mbeki and Zuma took on a shriller, more ideologically dogmatic tone, and saw a visible tilt towards Chinese and Russian positions, and a more acrimonious relationship with the West.

This was borne out by demands for a fundamental restructuring of the architecture of global governance to give greater weight to the voice of the global South, opposition to Western intervention under the guise of a 'responsibility to protect', as well as opposition to Western concepts of human rights. These were viewed as pretexts to impose Western ideals on developing states and produced strong South African opposition to Western policy in Zimbabwe, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Syria, as well as hostility to sanctions being imposed on human rights abusers in Iran, Myanmar, and Belarus.

Ramaphosa's history points to a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach to international relations. His constant invocation of the Mandela legacy since becoming ANC leader in December 2017 suggests his preference will be for a more mature, nuanced foreign policy that eschews confrontational anti-Western rhetoric and stakes out areas for cooperation.

Ramaphosa appears to have a clear grasp of economics and international economic diplomacy – unlike Zuma, he will not be out of his depth at meetings of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or at the World Economic Forum. He will also appreciate the need to gain maximum benefits from his country's BRICS partners and from traditional Western economic partners, rather than adopting a crude and self-destructive polarisation of South African foreign relations.

We are thus likely to see less instinctive support for Russian and Chinese global postures, with Pretoria adopting more independent positions, perhaps even seeking, on occasion, to revive the bridge-building, mediation and good international citizen role it had developed under Mandela.

Ramaphosa may also subject South Africa's BRICS role to greater scrutiny as, to date, the gains accrued from membership have been relatively meagre and largely symbolic. While it offers a place at one of the high tables of global politics, it provides little by way of economic substance to advance domestic social and economic transformation. Ramaphosa may seek to establish more room for manoeuvre within the BRICS grouping, while repairing a relationship with the West that deteriorated sharply under Mbeki and Zuma.

There are two significant barriers to this, however. First, BRICS membership may carry an implicit expectation of loyalty to the group and adherence to its positions may outweigh other foreign-policy considerations. Second, there is still a visceral anti-Western sentiment within the ANC – as evidenced by its foreign-policy discussion documents and conference resolutions – and overtures to the West will be opposed by many who wish South African foreign policy to remain anchored in a discourse of 'anti-imperialism' and 'South–South solidarity', and who view Ramaphosa's capitalist orientations with considerable scepticism.

Meanwhile, any attempt to build a closer relationship with the United States is likely to be seriously complicated by the Trump factor. Ramaphosa cannot afford to get too close to a president who appears to have such a crude disdain for Africa, and whose erratic approach to governance means that policy may change on a whim. Yet, nor can he afford a turbulent relationship with the US. Managing these relationships will require statecraft and foreign-policy dexterity of a very high order. That was inconceivable under Zuma, but it is at least possible under Ramaphosa.

South Africa in Africa Mandela's approach to Africa placed a very strong emphasis on human rights and good governance, specifically a rejection of the notion that democracy was somehow un-African. Mbeki's foreign policy initially embraced those ideals too, as part of his vision for an African renaissance and his New Partnership for African Development initiative. Over time, however, Mbeki – and subsequently Zuma – gravitated away from these emancipatory ideals in favour of solidarity with other African regimes, a commitment to quite traditional and rigid definitions of sovereignty, and to non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Democracy and human rights were downgraded in favour of aligning with the African consensus, forging a common front against Western positions and seeking reform of the international system. We see this in Mbeki's policies towards Zimbabwe and Sudan, and in Zuma's approaches to Zimbabwe, Libya and Sudan, as well as the 2016 decision not only to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) but to encourage a wider African exodus from it.

Ramaphosa is a different political animal. At one time or another he has been an opponent of both former leaders and, unlike them, he also hails from the internal wing of the anti-apartheid struggle. As the first post-1990 ANC president to be drawn from the internal movement, his politics are rooted in a quite different culture. They are less hierarchical, commandist and top-down – the hallmarks of the ANC in exile – and instead characterised by more bottom-up, grassroots and participatory approaches, which were engendered by the trade unions and the United Democratic Front. When one adds to this the fact he was one of the principal architects of South Africa's 1996 constitution – a document lauded for its liberal and emancipatory character – this is likely to make him instinctively hostile to those authoritarian regimes in Africa who seek to stifle, if not obliterate, civil society, trade unions and opposition organisations, much as ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe has. An early indication of Ramaphosa's thinking about international relations will be whether he sticks to or reverses the Zuma administration's disappointing decision to withdraw from the ICC.

Like Mandela before him, Ramaphosa is likely to face a difficult journey if he does pursue a more vigorously democratic orientation for South Africa, given the ingrained hostility to democratic ideals – as opposed to democratic rhetoric – of so many of the continent's elites who recognise an existential threat when they see one. He will, however, draw considerable support from Africa's emerging civil society and its grassroots democratic activists.

Equally, Ramaphosa must not repeat the mistake made by Mbeki and Zuma in thinking that the South African model of conflict resolution has universal applications and can be rolled out in all conflict situations. (It should be recalled that Ramaphosa was involved in giving advice to the ongoing Northern Irish peace process in the 1990s and in the decommissioning of IRA weaponry). All too often, South Africa's default response to African conflict situations has been to recommend a government of national unity, which has ultimately served not to enhance democracy but to subvert the will of the people and to reward those who are prepared to unleash mayhem rather than accept electoral defeat.

Finally, Ramaphosa must appreciate the limits of South Africa's ability to play an expansive role in Africa, given its domestic challenges, weak economy, overstretched and under-financed security forces, as well as the resentments its interventions and leadership aspirations in Africa invariably generate. This may lead him to accept that South Africa should largely confine its African activism to the southern African bloc, which is large and complex enough, particularly since the admission of the DRC in 1997. Of course, this may constitute a blow to the country's self-image as a great African rather than merely southern African power, but it is important that geopolitical vanity should not eclipse political rationalism and the need for a foreign policy that facilitates rather than obstructs domestic social and economic transformation.

Ramaphosa's ascent, therefore, provides a moment of hope certainly, but a range of both domestic and external constraints will limit his achievements: the narrowness of his victory in December 2017; the divided nature of the ANC; the fierce resistance of those with a vested interest in preserving corrupt networks; the power constellations within the global system; and resistance within Africa to South African 'leadership' and programmes of democratisation.

South Africa faces a formidable set of challenges, but at least it now has a person of substance, ability and vision at the helm to help it navigate the rapids.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Sub-Saharan Africa: AACI to Lead South Africa in MICE Sector BRICS Forum (Страны Африки к югу от Сахары: AACI возглавит Южную Африку в MICE-секторе) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, Capetown_summit
South Africa

The Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) will act as the lead association for South Africa's participation in the newly established BRICS Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions Co-operation Forum.

The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) Forum was established in Xiamen, China during November 2017, following an earlier full BRICS Summit where it was acknowledged that MICE co-operation would significantly benefit and drive the economic and trade agenda in the BRICS bloc.

SAACI CEO Rudi van der Vyver said SAACI's role in the Forum was in line with its vision as the recognised umbrella body of the business events industry in Southern Africa. "These co-operative forums allow us to build increasingly meaningful global relationships and to be the strategic link for the public and private sector both nationally and internationally".

Van der Vyver said the association had co-opted Inkanyezi Events CEO Andrew Binning, who attended the inaugural MICE Co-operation Forum in China, to assist as its Project Manager pertaining to the BRICs co-operation. This will ensure a focused and dedicated drive to extract maximum value from this initiative.

"Andrew is a long-standing member of SAACI and as an industry CEO and immediate past president of the Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa, we are confident that SAACI's role in the new Forum can create tangible benefits for the South African economy and our SAACI members.''

"Chinese companies in particular have an aggressive approach to accessing new markets and will increasingly be making up larger percentages of business tourism to South Africa", says Binning.

Binning added that a three-year study commissioned by the South African National Convention Bureau estimated total direct spend of business tourists in South Africa at R42.4bn in 2015 and growing.

The Forum is facilitated by the China Cities Association of Convention and Exhibitionand the Xiamen Municipal Bureau of Convention and Exhibition Affairs and includes representation of various industry bodies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

A strategy is currently being formulated to propose various ways in which further co-operation can be strengthened between the BRICS nations, with SAACI's focus firmly on incubating trade channels for Southern Africa.

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