Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 26.2018
2018.06.25 — 2018.07.01
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
How US policies are making BRICS stronger (Как политика США делает БРИКС сильнее) / Bangladesh, June, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, emerging_market
Author: Ashis Biswas

The concept of a unipolar world is an outdated one

If anything helps the steady growth and economic integration within the BRICS grouping, it is the current duplicitous policies of the US and its loyal EU countries towards emergent Asian and African countries.

Until recently, India, an important if not dominant member of the BRICS, did not react enthusiastically to a Russian/Chinese demand to reduce its dealings in US dollars, the universally accepted currency, in its international trade and business.

However, the US decision to re-impose economic sanctions against Iran and its unilateral withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal (JCPAC) agreement is forcing an Indian to rethink whether to ditch the dollar.

Delhi is currently considering a revival of the rupee-rial agreement that had once been used in its trade with Tehran. That was when the Obama administration first slapped economic sanctions against Iran.

Pressure is now mounting in India to align with Russia and China on the matter, thanks entirely to US President Donald Trump and his controversial brand of statecraft. Only by a circuitous method avoiding dollar transaction bilaterally, the two Asian countries can salvage their trade from being impacted by the fresh sanctions.

Stated simply, what has happened between the US and India in recent years is that the richer country has simply shut the door on India's face, a process that has peaked as the America-first policy comes into force. This despite the fact that most of the Indo-US bilateral deals, whether under Obama or Trump, have enabled the US to walk away with major benefits including domestic job creation at India's expense.

Still India persisted with a pro-West foreign policy within an apparently unipolar world with the avowed objective of securing the latest technology for its growing economy. Also factored in was a strategic move to win the trust of the West "in standing up to the emerging new giant, China in Asia."

It is difficult to compute how much of advanced technology has come India's way from the US and in exactly what sector. However, there has been no dearth of moral support and encouragement from the US-EU blocs in the matter of India squaring up against China from Doklam to the South China Sea - but again, and this is most important at the verbal level.

The US refuses to sell its latest F35 fighter jets to India, while Israel gets them. It warns India not to buy the dreaded SS 400 anti-missile defense system from Russia. And now, Trump has also increased the US tariff on a number of products from India to make US-based industries more competitive.

All this happens even as Trump and Modi hug each other publicly whenever they meet for the sake of photo ops. One also recalls how Modi had boasted that he used to call Obama by his first name. As a Kolkata-based analyst points out: "When the US describes India as its strategic partner in Asia, one wonders whether words and meanings have parted company."

The question arises, what is it about the US that attracts Indian policy-makers and leaders, even when they know their country has been and will always be, short-changed on most matters.

One analyst, ex-diplomat MK Bhadrakumar, put the matter succinctly. India's Western-educated, English-speaking elite who really decide policy always felt more at home in locations like London, Washington, Oxford ,Cambridge, Harvard -- not for them the deep intricacies and subtleties of the Russian or Chinese history or cultures, the epic struggles in both countries to develop and grow stronger, challenging the might of the West.

Bhadrakumar points out that when leaders like Vladimir Putin articulated their objective to reduce their dependence on the use of US dollar in future transactions at BRICS gatherings, Prime Minister Narendra Modi always remained silent.

This, despite the common knowledge in India that but for the steadfast support of the old USSR in the UN Security Council on the Kashmir question, India might have found it extremely difficult to hold off the twin challenge posed by Pakistan and the foreign-backed Islamic mercenaries fighting for their independence. Even the highly respected BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, no admirer of the USSR otherwise, admitted this during a press conference in Kolkata some years ago.

However, India's enduring obsession with the much richer, glamourous West need not be explained entirely as a continuation of its post-colonial political narrative. South Bloc-based foreign affairs experts admit that with 25% of the world's GDP (the percentage is growing very fast thanks to China's progress) and 40% of the world's population, the five member BRICS grouping was certainly engaging the attention of a worried, divided West Bloc. As Putin has pointed out in PPP terms, the BRICS members and their immediate neighbours certainly are not very far behind the levels of affluence enjoyed in the EU the US.

It needs stressing that these figures are not up to date. However, with at least 12 more countries including Iran, Turkey, and South Korea keen to join, the present situation is far more positive for BRICS.

However, India' s apparent ennui to engage wholeheartedly with BRICS endeavours could also be explained by the trade figures. At $25/30 billion annually, BRICS accounts for only 10/15% of India's total export earnings. Massive trade deficits notwithstanding, the West remains India's dominating trade and business destination by a long chalk.

For some time now, China and Russia, the dominant countries that drive the BRICS grouping, have been trying to replace/restrict the use of the US dollar in their financial dealings worldwide. For China, it ties in very well with its long term objective of displacing the US as the world's leading economy. For Russia, less dependence on the US dollar would help it better to do business and trade with non-Western countries and beat the West-imposed sanctions.

Understandably, during the last BRICS summit, official pronouncements stressed the growing need for evolving new ways of doing trade and business among countries, seeking a reduction in the role played by the World Bank, the IMF, and the ADB. Towards this end, under Chinese leadership, the BRICS members have set up the new AIIB, as a small but significant counterweight to the World Bank.

To ramp up economic co-operation/integration among the expanding BRICS grouping, it has been suggested that members resort to greater use of their respective national currencies, circumventing the primacy of the US dollar. China currently uses the yuan instead of the US dollar with the local currencies with 16 countries now. India is also looking to revive if necessary its old rupee-rouble payment arrangement with Russia, to enable it to purchase in SS400 defense system.

Given the small size of the BRICS economies relative to overall world trade figures, it is not as though US/EU policy-makers will lose much sleep over the economic progress of Asian/African countries. Posing a counter to the US dollar in international trade too is easier said than done.

On the other hand, leaders and emerging countries like India and Bangladesh should appreciate that the concept of a unipolar world is already passé, and the times are a-changing.

Ashis Biswas writes from Kolkata, India.
Terror, cyber crime hot topics for BRICS (Террор и киберпреступления - горячие темы для БРИКС) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: terrorism, digital, top_level_meeting, national_security
South Africa

Durban - Cyber crimes, terrorism, counter-terrorism, money laundering, human trafficking and transnational organised crimes were major talking points on Friday before BRICS security ministers went into a closed meeting. The ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met at Durban's Maharani Hotel for day two of their 8th BRICS National Security Advisers meeting ahead of the summit next month.

National security adviser of India, Ajit Doval, said terrorism was an issue confronting all BRICS nations and had reached new proportions. Terrorists were using technology and exploiting legal loopholes in the system to further their agendas.

He said networks were becoming complex and interconnected, with the sponsorship of terrorism by some states continuing.

Doval also called for an effective international mechanism to verify the actions of the states to eliminate safe havens of terrorism from these territories.

"New methods of terror financing such as virtual currencies have been used. The absence of any global regime to tackle such digital transactions is of serious concern. Terrorists have been successful in getting access to arms ammunition and explosives.

"There is no doubt this needs special focus during this meeting."

Doval said the use of ICT had become an integral part of international security architecture and that there was a need for the development of an effective and comprehensive international framework for securing ICT systems and internet assets.

South Africa's Minister of State Security, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, said international relations now played out in increasingly diverse ways. While South Africa had progressed into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it continued to face a range of issues challenging national security and sovereignty.

"Beyond conventional military build-ups, this includes new cyber sources of hard and soft power, reconfigured trade and investment needs, changing alliance dynamics and potential flashpoints related to the global environment.

"The evolving world we live in requires us to keep track of its multifaceted and dynamic changes, especially as it relates to security issues."

Letsatsi-Duba said the world faced a number of emerging threats that had been elevated in terms of South Africa's tradecraft.

"These range from countering international terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism, drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, money laundering,

unconstitutional regime change to managing economic meltdown, environmental degradation, forced migration, food security and an illicit economy."

Letsatsi-Duba said the global nature of such security issues showed there was no respect for borders, which implied these issues were easily imported and negatively impacted stability and security within the country.

"Threats related to transnational organised crime, terrorism and cyber crime further emphasise the disrespect to our national borders. Nations cannot secure their national sovereignty unless they work together."

She believed that state and non-state actors were hard at work in certain parts of the globe using various role-players to promote their agenda, while undermining the national security in various countries.

"These actors are in mass media, non-governmental and community-based organisations, foreign multinational companies, religious and student organisations, prominent and influential persons running covert intelligent networks to destabilise other countries who don't share similar views to theirs".

Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet, General Sergio Etchegoyen from Brazil, said it welcomed the dialogue BRICS had established in the domain of intelligence and related arena of counter-terrorism.

"Brazil has made much progress in this field over the past couple of years. Our legal framework is much more solid now with a specific counter-terrorism act and related national intelligence policy and plan."

He also welcomed BRICS members' willingness to move forward with the proposal of creating a BRICS intelligence forum.

"It has been very productive for us to have become acquainted with the challenges and experiences of our BRICS partners in the realm of cyber-security. Brazil is aware of the dangers that lurk in cyberspace.

"As a nation, we are fully committed to building a democratic, open, stable and transparent cyber environment."

After yesterday afternoon's closed meeting, an e-mail said that during the meeting Brazil's proposal to establish a BRICS Intelligence Forum was discussed and further deliberations on this proposal were underway.

Peacekeeping and transnational organised crime were also discussed in the closed meeting where it was then resolved that discussions around it would be held before the end of the year.
Keynote Address by the Honourable Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Ms Makgabo Reginah Mhaule, at the Meeting of the Fourth BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum, Pretoria, 26 June 2018 (Основной доклад Почетного заместителя министра по международным связям и сотрудничеству г-жи Макгабо Регины Мауле на совещании Четвертого форума молодых дипломистов БРИКС, Претория, 26 июня 2018 года) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: speech
South Africa

Programme Director, Ambassador Joyini

Our host for this session, the Minister of Science and Technology, the Honourable Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

The Director General of the Department of Internationals Relations and Cooperation, Mr Kgabo Mahoai

The Director for Finance and Support Services at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ms Limpho Monyamane

Senior Management from DIRCO, the Department of Science and Technology, the CSIR and Gauteng Government

Our BRICS Partners

Member of the Diplomatic Corps

Representatives from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the United Nations Children fund

The BRICS Youth Heads of Delegation

All Esteemed Delegates

Distinguished Guests


As you may have observed in entry to our country, our National Flags are flown at half-mast as our department and country is under a dark cloud of sadness after the loss of our former Chief of State Protocol Ambassador Billy Modise who served our nation selflessly and diligently in our struggle against apartheid and a Batho Pele public servant in our continued mission to build a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country.

Let me also eco the words of condemnation expressed by President Ramaphosa on the attacks in the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. As such attacks are designed to undermine democracy and create instability in nations that have registered progress for their people.

With that said, it is indeed a privilege and honour for me to address you on this exceptional occasion of the 4th BRICS Young Diplomats Forum which is convened under the theme "The Youth demographic dividend while prioritising women across all sectors in the 4th Industrial Revolution."

As you may be aware, this is a significant year in our history as South Africans and indeed to the peace loving people of the world. Thus 2018 has been officially declared the Year of Nelson Mandela, to commemorate the centenary of this revered son of the African soil.

In similar vein, this year also marks the centenary of another icon of the African liberation struggle Mama Albertina Sisulu. Africa can indeed pride itself on the selfless service and leadership qualities of these two stalwarts of good governance.

Madiba as he is fondly known amongst South Africans and across the globe, believed that young people are a country's most important asset. He argued with conviction that the youth need to be protected, empowered and nurtured to build a rich and united country.

Again, the month of June is Youth Month, dedicated to the youth of our country who lost their lives while in pursuit of their generational mission of Freedom in their Lifetime, personified by their struggle for decent education. I am hopeful that during your stay in our country, you will be afforded the opportunity to learn about our history and visit some of our heritage sites, take with you lessons on Ubuntu and understand what we mean by that.

Before I delve into the reason we are gathered here, I must say that as young people, you have an infectious energy that gives you hope for our future. It is a true that you possess the ability to view challenges of the world with both an innocence and imagination. I am also aware that it has been proven that you are able to present solutions where others only see difficulties. And for that you are indeed the future leaders today.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We meet at a time when internationalism is central in how the current world order functions. Thus the current digital revolution, provides us with a unique opportunity to sharpen the way we conduct our business. In the current set up, world economies are being characterised as competitive based on future production technologies and processes that innovators create.

Of course, it is the youth who stand to benefit the most from this revolution. Since it is a revolution that is having the most profound impact of how society will function and be shaped for the years to come.

Like the youth of 76, it is incumbent on young people to take the mantle and drive the process towards their full benefit of this digital revolution. You must occupy the frontline in breaking the barriers that divide us in this new integrated system where virtual reality and cyberspace is the reality. We must build the societies that create and nurture innovation and new technologies, finding alternate ways in which we solve global problems.

I believe that the ICT sector is key to the future growth of our country, the continent and the world at large.

As we coexist in this digital age and in the midst of a universe that is continuously shrinking to become a global village, ICT and Innovation are key elements that underpin our future growth and development. As with any integration into new systems and thinking, a country must create the requisite skills to be functional and competitive.

If young people are to be the catalysts for change, they will need the necessary tools to be effectively equipped. We need to see more collaboration in areas of skills transfer, knowledge partnerships and best practice sharing in order to stimulate innovation and empower all people equally.

Esteemed Delegates

We have many young people amongst us here this morning that have unflinching determination and the potential to be innovators and creators in this vibrant world of technological change. The youth achievers that form part of today's 4th BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum are the future of our respective countries. I believe that the BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum is an earnest endeavour that is aimed at providing a platform for our young people to share ideas that will take BRICS forward as a strong and dynamic partnership for Global change.

Many future projections indicate that about an estimated 65% of children entering primary education today will most likely work in economic roles that do not even yet exist at present. Hence, it is incumbent upon us that we expose the youth to as wide a variety of technological innovations as possible because any initiative that seeks to empower the youth is an investment towards the future of our country, the continent and the community of nations.

I am of the view that the BRICS Young Diplomats' Forum should be futuristic in its approach and focus. Young Diplomats and indeed young people need a different sort of environment to be creative and efficient. It is clear that traditional methods of engagement may not be the only way to interact around key global issues. We need to open our thinking to the proposition: change is good, change needs technology and young people are key drivers of this change.

Esteemed Delegates

Another critical question is whether the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be a revolution that changes the status quo for women? In its 2014 Gender Gap Report, the World Economic Forum predicted that globally, we should only reach gender parity by 2095. But, unfortunately today, that forecast has worsened, with the gap anticipated to close as late as 2133. That is 117 years from now, multiple generations away. The world cannot wait that long for this change to be realised. We need to seize the day and make the change for an inclusive society. I should take this moment to commend the delegations that have elected young women to lead them this week as they partake in this pre conference of the BRICS.

It is, therefore, imperative to consider the positive impact that the 4th Industrial Revolution can have on the gender gap. A question that comes to mind is: How will the accelerating pace of technological change determine what roles women can play in the economy, politics, and society? One other question that stands out is whether the 4th Industrial Revolution will have the propensity to worsen inequality, particularly for women.

This is why we must start fostering a culture of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education for girls. That is why work for organisations like the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) is focused on encouraging young people and especially young women to use technology and entrepreneurship to create economic opportunities and inspire girls to pursue careers that are life-changing. Women need to be in the epicentre of this change.

Ladies and Gentlemen

For our government, it has become more than a slogan to say that our youth today are tomorrow's leaders. We are seized with building leaders for tomorrow, today. Young people are the greatest asset with the highest potential to build better societies in South Africa, our continent and the world.

What we tend to forget is that the journey towards their leadership destiny begins today. It will be a long and difficult journey but it is a journey worth traveling. It requires individuals with great zeal, fortitude and tenacity to carry on despite the challenges. As Former President Nelson Mandela noted:

"Young people are capable, when stimulated, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom."

It is imperative that we raise a new generation of young people that will not be job seekers but job creators. We need innovative young entrepreneurs who will play a significant role in the renewal of our economies. Entrepreneurship is a fundamental endeavour for economic emancipation of all peoples of the world today.

Surely, you will agree with me that our objective reality reveals that, as youth, you remain the hardest hit by the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality not only in South Africa but globally. These are the challenges that we must collectively address with the urgency that they deserve.

The strength of our public-private partnerships is one that will help both businesses and people to move society forward. This is the reason why inclusive growth is central in the development agenda of the South African government and the Global South.

We need to embark on all these initiatives, conscious of the fact that our greatest asset is human capital. We must invest in skills development so that we can produce young men and women who will become exceptional innovators and make a meaningful contribution to the economic growth of our country.

Let us forever be mindful of the fact that government alone does not have capacity to create jobs for each and every person that is currently unemployed. However, through sound partnerships and collaborations such as BRICS, we can make significant contribution towards the improvement of the standards of living for the majority of our people.

Let me conclude by once again quoting Former President Nelson Mandela:

"To the youth of today, I also have a wish to make: be the scriptwriters of your destiny and feature yourselves as stars that showed the way towards a brighter future."

Again let me welcome you to our beautiful country. South African for the next week is your home away from home. Please enjoy our hospitality, the sights & sounds of our capital city, our food and our culture as an expression of our friendship and solidarity with our BRICS partners and the world.

This is your future – working together, make it work!!!!
"You dropping BRICS from above? We're throwing bricks from below!" ("Вы нам сверху сбрасываете БРИКС? Мы кидаем кирпичи снизу!") / Belgium, June, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, social_issues

The rapper Ewok captured the spirit of progressive social forces in South Africa with his condemnation of [BRICS] elite politics at a March 2013 protest outside the Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa: "You dropping BRICS from above? We're throwing bricks from below!"

For the second time, the leaders of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) summit will take place in South Africa, this time at Johannesburg's Sandton Convention Centre from 25-27 July. The bloc has great potential to change the world in positive ways. But under increasingly desperate capitalist rule in each country, this potential simply cannot be realised, and evidence has accumulated of much more harm than good.

The best example of intra-BRICS collaboration combining top-down and bottom-up politics was when 15 years ago, Treatment Action Campaign activists won free AIDS medicines (once costing US $10 000 per year) for four million South Africans (hence raising life expectancy from 52 to 64) thanks partly to a Brazilian state precedent and Indian generic pharmaceutical support.

Progressive BRICS are crumbling

But that was then – now the BRICS are mainly corrupt and undemocratic under Michel Temer, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping and Cyril Ramaphosa. Thanks to the ruling parties' policies, the five countries are more unequal, patriarchal, homophobic, racist and polluting.

There is no space here to explore systematic policy critiques of BRICS countries, which range across feminist, environmentalist, generational (especially youth), class and race lines. Brutal versions of neoliberal ideology prevail in all five BRICS, aside from Brazil during Workers Party rule, which ended in a 2016 coup by the corrupt politician Temer – against which no other BRICS country came to prior President Dilma Rousseff's assistance in spite of appeals by the Movement of Landless Workers.

Inequality subsequently rose in each of the BRICS. Even in Brazil, "After falling for years, inequality and poverty increased during the [2015-16] crisis," according to a May 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) study. To make matters worse, the main theme of the 2018 conference is the so-called "4thIndustrial Revolution" (emphasising robots, cyber-technology and Artificial Intelligence). Unemployment, state-corporate surveillance, repression and social engineering will worsen.

The sub-imperial position

One central problem is that the BRICS elites fit too snugly within – not against – Western imperialism, especially the most destructive multilateral agencies: the G20, United Nations Security Council, Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF and World Bank), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There, the BRICS pursue "reforms":

G20 – in the most powerful network, where South Africa is the only African member and hence is often used as a Northern/BRICS ally against the interests of the continent, the BRICS are promoting pro-corporate mega-projects and "extractivism" against African people and environments (via the German Conservative Party's "Compact with Africa" in 2017, which offers new investment guaranteesto G20 corporations partly at African expense);

UN Security Council – ensuring that the three weaker BRICS (Brazil, India and South Africa) are never allowed to acquire full-vote, full-veto permanent membership in the UNSC, since that would dilute the power of Moscow and Beijing (given that the bloc is extremely divided in geopolitical terms, with Delhi and Brasilia extremely close to Washington, and Pretoria generally considered unreliable);

IMF – demanding and winning ownership "quota" restructurings (2010-15) that disempower most poor countries by lowering their voting share (e.g. Nigeria by 41 percent), and extending the term of corrupt (convicted) former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as IMF leader, without any change in the neoliberal Washington Consensus philosophy that wrecks African economies, societies and environments;

WTO – ending poor countries' food sovereignty at the 2015 Nairobi summit (chaired by a Brazilian) by agreeing with Washington and Brussels to make pro-consumer/farmer agricultural subsidies a free-trade violation, at a time Xi Jinping is rebooting pro-corporate trade (given that Trump appears to be self-sabotaging Free Trade Agreements); and

UNFCCC – agreeing in the Durban (2011) and Paris (2015) summits to permit the North's and BRICS' on-going destruction of the climate, thanks to the deals' non-binding, unambitious emissions cut targets (in spite of Global South and climate justice calls for binding, accountable and effective mechanisms); reinstatement of carbon trading (the "privatisation of the air", a false solution); omission of the military, shipping and air transport sectors; and cancellation of their own North/BRICS' climate debt to the victims of extreme weather, droughts, floods and other conditions that are already doing extensive damage to the world's poorest and most vulnerable regions.

Supposed BRICS "alternatives" to Western power include the New Development Bank (NDB), Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a potential credit ratings agency, and BRICS corporations' Foreign Direct Investment. These are not genuine alternatives. In reality they amplify imperialist processes. These specifically empower the World Bank and IMF (through mutually-reinforcing deals), and also confirm on-going world reliance on the US$. (The US$ is the currency unit used in 70 percent of NDB loans so far, and in all CRA financing – even when project expenditure should occur with local currency.)

Even more tragically, the BRICS have not offered any way for the world to defend against US President Donald Trump's threats to our planet. To be sure, Russia has very dangerous new missiles, which Putin claims can evade all known defence systems and blow up the United States within a half hour of being launched. Also, Xi's new naval aircraft carrier will defend its South China Sea fake "islands" far away from its shores. But world civilisation has entered a lethal stage with geopolitical, nuclear, conventional military, climate and economic dangers.

A global movement against Trump began on the very day of his inauguration in January 2017, and occasionally takes the form of protests at US embassies. BRICS elites could support this through sanctions, but instead engage in periodic re-legitimisation of Washington's proto-fascist regime – especially Modi, Temer and Xi. Although anti-Trump rhetoric is occasionally articulated and potential trade wars loom, the BRICS are nevertheless falling into line with his commands when it comes to the pro-corporate character of multilateral institutions.

One of the main threats to Middle East peace and global justice is the Trump-Israel axis that bulldozes over the most fundamental rights of Palestinian people and promotes hatred, racism, walls and wars across the continents. While people are building a new global anti-apartheid movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions, BRICS policies promote corporate impunity, undermine democracy and adapt to imperialist agendas against Palestine. India imports 50 percent of all Israeli weapons exports while Brazil ranks among the top six markets for Israeli weapons. Much of it foments repression against their own people and surveillance policies. China and India are today among Israel's main trade and investment partners. Chinese and Indian companies collude with Israelis on "Big Data" – which translates into more surveillance of societies. And none of the BRICS countries bans products of corporations complicit with Israeli settlements in Palestine, as should be done under international law since production on illegally occupied land is considered an international crime.

BRICS elites subvert citizenries' democratic instincts

BRICS elites are crushing their own societies' instincts for democracy and justice. On-going examples are Temer's frame-up arrest of Workers Party leader Lula da Silva in Brazil in May, preventing his (otherwise certain) victory in October presidential elections; Putin's disqualification of Alexai Navalny's liberal candidacy in April's Russian "election"; Modi's proto-fascistic religiously-bigoted leadership; Xi's Chinese Communist Party dictatorship (and now his potential for decade+ personal rule); and in South Africa, the "Ramazupta" governance problem.

South African political rulers still reveal corrupt leadership within the Presidency and Deputy Presidency, the African National Congress (ANC)'s Luthuli House and various provinces. ANC leaders are ruthless, with intra-ANC murders continuing in many jurisdictions. In 2012, Ramaphosa emailed in a request for the police to take "concomitant action" in a "pointed" way against workers on strike at his Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana, and so within 24 hours, 34 were massacred – with no one yet punished. He had consistently redirected money he should have paid the workers into Lonmin's Bermuda tax haven, and notwithstanding a mandate to build 5500 houses for workers at Marikana backed by the World Bank, he built just three. BRICS leaders are guilty of illicit financial flows, having been exposed in 2016 "Panama Papers" and 2017 "Paradise Papers" leaks.

When the BRICS countries' elites do business in Africa, their ethics reflect some of the most anti-democratic and predatory practices that we have seen since the Berlin conference of 1885 and the likes of Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold. Similar to Western corporate behaviour in corrupting local leaders, Africa suffers malevolent BRICS state, parastatal and corporate interventions in local politics.

For example, the Brazilian firm Odebrecht made more than R600 million (US $ 50million) in known bribes of Angolan and Mozambican rulers.

Rosatom did nuclear deals with corrupt political regimes in Pretoria, Kampala, Lusaka, Accra, Nairobi, Abuja, Windhoek and Cairo.

The Gupta brothers' "state capture" of wide swathes of South Africa's political, bureaucratic and corporate management was supported by one of Delhi's state-owned banks, with no extradition from India likely.

Beijing compelled Pretoria to reject the Dalai Lama's visa applications to South Africa on three occasions, put decisive pressure on Zuma to change finance ministers in 2015, and pre-approved the Zimbabwe army's coup against Robert Mugabe late last year.

Pretoria repeatedly dismissed the democratic will of neighbouring countries, instead nurturing dictatorships in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic.

BRICS firms operating in Africa have become voracious, especially since the commodity super-cycle peaked in 2011 and more extreme extraction (and social protests) are evident. It is hard to argue that there is any worse predatory corporate presence in Africa than the BRICS. For example,

From Brazil, both Odebrecht and the world's second-largest mining company, Rio-based Vale, have faced regular protests over mass displacement at construction projects and coal-mining operations in Tete, Mozambique, as has the Brazilian government (dating to Workers Party rule) over its ProSavana corporate-agriculture land-grab.

Russia's potentially disastrous Rosatom nuclear reactor deals across Africa are noted above, but so too are Russian mining houses moving into Zimbabwe's platinum and gold fields in dubious ways.

Indian companies in Africa have been especially exploitative, led by Vedanta chief executive Anil Agarwal – caught bragging to investors of having bought the continent's largest copper mine for just US $25 million after fibbing to Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa and each year returning US $500 million to US $1 billion in revenues. ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal's major African steel operation, South Africa's former state-owned ISCOR, was accused by even Pretoria's trade minister of milking the operations. Jindal's super-exploitative arrangements in Mozambique and South Africa are regularly criticised.

Chinese firms – both state-owned and private – have been convincingly accused of major financial, human rights, labour and environmental abuses in Africa, perhaps most spectacularly in the case of Sam Pa whose operations included mining diamonds in eastern Zimbabwe along with the Chinese military firm Anjin. In 2016, even President Robert Mugabe alleged that of US $15 billion in revenues, only US $2 billion were accounted for, in mines mainly controlled by the local military and Chinese companies.

South African businesses have a record of looting the rest of the continent dating to Cecil Rhodes' (19thcentury) British South Africa Company, the Oppenheimer mining empire, and current President Ramaphosa's pre-2012 chairing of Africa's largest cell-phone company, MTN. The latter was exposed – along with two other companies he led, Lonmin and Shanduka – in 2014-17 for having offshore accounts in Bermuda and Mauritius used to illicitly remove funds from Africa. South Africa's corporate elites regularly rank as the most corrupt on earth in the biannual PricewaterhouseCoopers Economic Crimes Survey – especially in money-laundering, bribery and corruption, procurement fraud, assetmisappropriation and cybercrime – with one recent report showing that "eight out of ten senior managers commit economic crime."

BRICS spies survey our societies and promote a "4th Industrial Revolution"

Through high-technology surveillance, censorship and digital repression strategies, BRICS countries are at the cutting edge of cyberwar against their citizenries. For example, South African investors are implicated in China's totalitarian control of that country's Internet, which prevents the Chinese people from interacting with most of the rest of the world on major social media platforms. Also, in August 2015 alone, there were 15 000 arrests – including progressive clicktivists – for so-called "cyber crimes." Last year, The Feminist Voice in China was booted off the country's Twitter-equivalent after merely posting an anti-Trump article from The Guardian.

Unfortunately, the largest South African firm listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange – Naspers – holds a massive (R1.7 trillion—about US $142 million) investment in Tencent (China's Facebook equivalent), which is used by Beijing for Orwellian "social credit" monitoring to prevent social activism against Beijing and local targets of genuine grievances, whether governments and corporations.

In the same spirit of profiting handsomely from intra-BRICS repression, a South African arms dealer – Ivor Ichikowitz – sold high-tech repressive machinery to the Brazilian government so as to help its local municipalities repress 2013-14 protests that began because of unreasonable public transport price increases and World Cup excesses. Already, collaboration between BRICS spy agencies is well underway.

And in 2016, UN officials from Moscow, Delhi, Beijing and Pretoria voted against the main resolution on protection of human rights and privacy on the Internet, a resolution co-authored by Brazil and co-sponsored by 70 other countries. (Even by far the world's most predatory surveillance regime, the United States under Barack Obama, was shamed into supporting the resolution.)

In Pretoria, the Domestic Branch of the State Security Agency (formerly National Intelligence Agency) regularly monitors citizens' communication, just as does the US National Security Agency, with occasional embarrassing public incidents of spy-versus-spy or spy-versus-politicians, such as at the 2015 State of the Nation address when communications were jammed. Last August, there were revelations about the State Security Agency tapping of in excess of 150 000 South African cellphone accounts.

In the ruling party's Luthuli House, a "black ops war room" in 2016 generated fake news and bogus Twitter accounts against the ANC's political opponents during a disastrous election campaign (it lost four of the five largest metro areas), before being exposed after failing to pay an IT consultant, who took the ANC to court.

This unregulated high tech power of surveillance, censorship and repression becomes especially important because of the ultra-destructive 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). Experts admit that 4IR Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics and cyber-security such as blockchain technology could wipe out half the world's current jobs. Leading ex-South African practitioner Elon Musk warns that AI could destroy humanity within the coming few decades.

Yet dissemination of 4IR into Africa appears to be a very high priority of the BRICS' so-called "Sherpas" (a term we would want to respect the Nepalese people's desires to banish from such discussions). It is also a major project of BRICS Business Council chair Iqbal Survé, who has been relentlessly pushing 4IR rhetoric in his Independent group newspaper chain, in part through the proposed R50 billion (about US $4.2 billion) Sagarmatha Johannesburg Stock Exchange listing.

Investigative journalists uncovered illicit relations between Survé and the R2 trillion (US $166.67billion) Public Investment Corporation and halted the deal, but it is likely Survé will gain capital from allies to move his personal for-profit 4IR agenda forward, at the same time he and other BRICS elites try to confuse society with pro-4IR rhetoric.

Corrupting our states, societies and economies

Finally, when it comes to relations with South Africa, the BRICS countries and companies stink of corruption. It is not just the Rosatom nuclear deal, so devotedly pursued by Zuma and thankfully dropped by Ramaphosa (we hope).

In addition, the chair of the South Africa branch of the BRICS Business Council, Survé, grew wealthy through his firm Sekunjalo, which was accused by the South African state public protector in 2013 of R800 million (US $66.6 million) in "improper" tendering (for marine fisheries), after which he fired the Cape Times editor for putting this information on the newspaper's front page.

Survé took over the Business Council chair from a man even more discredited from shady deals done at the BRICS 2013 summit: Brian Molefe. As Transnet's chief executive, Molefe borrowed US $5 billion from the China Development Bank, mainly used to buy locomotives from China South Rail – alongside massive bribery directed into the Gupta empire.

Another BRICS New Development Bank loan to Transnet was arranged in May 2018, for US $200 million to expand the port-petrochemical complex, without any community consultation, even though Transnet's leadership was increasingly implicated in Gupta-era corruption investigations.

In 2016, Molefe was replaced as head of Eskom (and as chair of the BRICS Business Council) after he again arranged a US $5 billion loan from the same bank (plus US $200 million from the BRICS New Development Bank for a link to privatised solar supplies which Molefe then decided he didn't want).

At the same time Molefe was helping the Guptas penetrate Eskom, he visited the so-called Saxonwold Shebeen (the Gupta's Johannesburg mansion) dozens of times. Two other BRICS Business Council members are Transnet head Siyabonga Gama (with his long history of corruption charges), and Stavros Nicolaou, who was formerly Aspen Pharmaceutical's exports director when Italy's government found Aspen guilty of price gauging life-saving cancer medicines, with a fine of R65 million (US $5.4million).

Communities fight back

The BRICS are among the societies with the greatest contradictions and repression – but also the most active resistance. Anger is rising whether in Brazil over the Lula jailing; or Russia because the main opposition candidate was prevented from taking part in the recent election; or India due to the ruling party's tolerance for gender and ethnic violence as well as monetary repression; China due to workplace, land and environmental grievances; or South Africa thanks to a variety of problems.

Indeed, the main research institute studying this anger, at the University of Johannesburg, recently identified "a rising trend in frequency of community protests and a tendency towards those protests being disorderly."

South African community protests

Source: University of Johannesburg Centre for Social Change In our own region, resistance is taking many forms, because across Africa and the world, it is not only western imperialism but also BRICS sub-imperialism that is putting extreme pressure on communities, environments, labour forces, youth, the elderly and everyone. And resistance is sometimes very passionate:

In Mozambique, there are regular community protests against Brazilian land-grabbing in Tete Province (against Vale coal mining) and Nampula (against ProSavana).

In South Africa, social protests against Jacob Zuma prevented his US $100 billion acquisition of eight Russian Rosatom nuclear reactors.

In Zambia, community protesters regularly criticise the Vedanta operation at Konkola, which is wrecking the local environment in addition to looting national resources.

In Zimbabwe, not only the Marange community – where 2000 protested renewed mining in May – every single citizen was adversely affected by Chinese and Zimbabwean military looting of US $15 billion worth of what Robert Mugabe in 2016 calculated as missing diamond revenue.

Across Africa there are periodic protests against South African corporations – e.g. MTN in Nigeria –, which peaked in April 2015, when a variety of company and embassy offices witnessed demonstrations against that year's xenophobia.

From the standpoint of activists working from below, BRICS elites have adopted reactionary economic, social and environmental policies; have assimilated into imperialist agencies to the detriment of the world's poorest and most vulnerable; have offered only bogus "alternative" institutions; have suppressed democracy; allow their firms' unlimited corporate irresponsibility; impose extreme forms of surveillance, censorship and digital repression, including expansion of the ultra-destructive 4IR; and engage in runaway corruption. But in each case, people are standing up to resist.

Activities to "Break the BRICS" will give greater voice to these communities, trade unions, women's and youth groups, ecologists and many other social movements. For information on Johannesburg meetings from 22-27 July, contact:

* The BREAK the BRICS Coalition is a group of activists opposing the BRICS'sub-imperialism in Africa.
Source: University of Johannesburg Centre for Social Change
Senior Chinese official calls for BRICS cooperation in global governance (Старший китайский чиновник призывает к сотрудничеству БРИКС в глобальном управлении) / China, June, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, global_governance, national_security

DURBAN, South Africa, June 30 (Xinhua) -- BRICS countries should strengthen strategic mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation to play a more constructive role in maintaining world peace and stability, a Chinese senior official said here Friday.

Speaking at the 8th meeting of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues, Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said that the world is witnessing some of the most unprecedented changes in a century.

Yang, also director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, said BRICS countries play an important role in maintaining world peace, promoting common development and enhancing global governance.

BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world's leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Yang said the BRICS should jointly stick to multilateralism, uphold the principles of the UN Charter and seek a peaceful settlement to disputes.

The BRICS should also enhance political and security cooperation and safeguard the common interests of emerging market countries and developing nations, he added.

Meanwhile, participants agreed that the BRICS countries should further enhance solidarity and cooperation while sticking to multilateralism so as to make positive contributions to world peace, stability and development.

During the meeting, Yang held bilateral talks with delegation leaders from the other BRICS countries.

Media Statement on the Conclusion of the BRICS Security Ministers Meeting (Заявление для СМИ о заключении встречи министров безопасности БРИКС) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, national_security, top_level_meeting
South Africa

The 8th BRICS National Security Advisors (NSAs) meeting was held on 28 and 29 June 2018 in eThekwini, South Africa. Hon. D. Letsatsi-Duba, Minister of State Security of the Republic of South Africa presided over the meeting.

The meeting was attended by his Excellency the Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet, General Sergio Etchegoyen from Brazil, his Excellency Secretary General of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Mr Nikolai Patruchev, his Excellency the National Security Advisor of India, Mr Ajit Doval and his Excellency Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, Mr Yang Jiechi.

The NSAs underlined that this meeting presented their collective commitment to cooperate in preventing, mitigating and combating security threats. They acknowledged the positive contribution of BRICS countries on issues related to security.

The NSAs deliberated on various international hotspot areas currently impacting on the global security environment. They agreed that international peace and stability remained fragile and regression is possible if the peace is not guarded. On this matter the NSAs agreed to continue monitoring the current security threats and collaborate on issues of mutual interest.

The NSAs thanked and congratulated the working groups on Counter-Terrorism and the Security in the use of ICTs on their deliberations and positive outcomes of their meetings, which took place in April and May 2018 respectively.

In relation to counter terrorism, the NSAs reaffirmed the transnational nature of terrorism, which is evolving and necessitates a continuous reassessment of threats and sharing of perspectives amongst BRICS countries. They agreed that BRICS countries should continuously explore areas of convergence in the fight against terrorism and should act united in exploring opportunities to present a BRICS perspective on this matter.

With regard to the Security in the use of ICTs, the NSAs acknowledged the importance of establishing a solid framework for cooperation among BRICS countries on ensuring security in the use of ICTs. On this matter, BRICS countries will work towards the consideration and elaboration of a BRICS intergovernmental agreement on cooperation.

The NSAs also deliberated on peacekeeping and transnational organised crime and resolved that discussions will be held before the end of the year towards the proposed establishment of working groups on these topics.

Finally the NSAs discussed the proposal to establish a BRICS Intelligence Forum, as proposed by Brazil. Further deliberations on this proposal are underway.

Hon. Letsatsi-Duba expressed her appreciation to her counterparts from BRICS countries for their active participation and contributions in making the meeting successful.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.Media files
Declaration: BRICS Local Friendship Cities, Local Government and Urbanisation Forum 2018 (Декларация: БРИКС Местные города дружбы, Форум местного самоуправления и урбанизации 2018) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, social_issues
South Africa



29 JUNE 2018




We, the Ministers, Mayors and other representatives of the BRICS cities, in the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met from 28-29 June, 2018, in Buffalo City, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, having met to debate the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation:

  1. Resolve to coordinate our efforts for the dissemination of knowledge and capacitation for sustainable urbanisation processes, to learn from best practices and access available technologies, to better manage and plan for the rapid rate of urbanisation in the BRICS partner countries, and to better understand the issues identified as major urban challenges by the member countries, and affirm our continuing commitment to this cycle of continuous knowledge exchange and learning between our member states.
  2. Acknowledge and support the importance of intra-regional collaboration for localised development action to uphold our global commitments to sustainable development and inclusive prosperity.
  3. Reaffirm our joint commitment to effectively implementing in our localised contexts, the New Urban Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
  4. Declare our full support for the shared vison, and principles and commitments declared in the New Urban Agenda, which provide for the universal commitment to leave no one behind, thereby addressing the specific needs of vulnerable or marginalised population groups, in moving towards the accessible and inclusive city.
  5. Endorse the key role of the BRICS member states in 'building sustainable and inclusive cities through innovation and partnership' which is the theme of the 2018 Forum, and commit to fostering greater local government cooperation, recognising both the significant role of government as well as the private sector, and civil society, the 'all of government, all of society' approach to implementing sustainable urbanisation.
  6. Appreciate the dialogues that emerged from the previous BRICS Friendship Cities and Urbanisation Forums held in Sanya (China 2011), Mumbai (India 2012), eThekwini (South Africa 2013), and New Delhi (India 2016) and commit to continuing partnership and dialogue, mutual support and cooperation that emerged from these Forums.
  7. Celebrate that the BRICS grouping celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2018 and anticipate positive outcomes from the upcoming summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, under the theme 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.'
  8. Commit to sharing the recommendations and outcomes of this Forum with our partners domestically and globally, in order to build a shared understanding of the impact of the urban century across borders, and to look for ways in which our respective country experiences and expertise can be harnessed towards more collective interpretation, action and investment in order to reap the 'urban dividend'.
  9. Acknowledge the importance of the 4th Industrial Revolution for our economic and industrial policies, and commit to sharing our understanding of the opportunities and impact of this 4th Industrial Revolution between our member states recognising that harnessing modern technologies can advance our objectives for smart and well-governed cities.
  10. Recognise that sustainable financing of urbanisation requires more integrated financing frameworks, innovation for financial modelling, enhanced financial management capacities, encouragement of public and private investments, and access to additional sources of finance to secure the financial means for implementation of sustainable urban development.
  11. Reiterate the imperative of inclusive growth to overcome poverty, inequality and unemployment in our societies, noting that inequalities in income influence inequalities in other dimensions of well-being, including lifestyle, access to resources, a shared voice in society, personal security and safety, and access to justice.
  12. Accept the importance of informality as a generalised mode of metropolitan urbanisation, and also accept that urban informality, in some regions, is an 'unplannable' exception to the order of formal urbanization, which should be encouraged in the interests of livelihood options for the urban poor.
  13. Endeavour to promote youth employment, gender equity and skills development across our communities and progressively institutionalise inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all, (SDG Goal 4), and to work towards achieving SDG Goal 5, 'Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,' in order to reap the benefits of the urban dividend and reduce discrimination and marginalisation of some categories of women, the disabled and the youth from the mainstream of the economy and society.
  14. Welcome the dialogue on integrated human settlements, planning and infrastructure development as a foundation for spatial equity, social cohesion and the dignity of all people through access to basic services by the urban poor; noting that globally, 844 million people lack basic water services, and almost 1 billion people currently live without electricity, necessitating accelerated integrated water resource management, and the transformation of the world's energy systems through advances in technology and renewable energy sources.
  15. Support the commitments of the New Urban Agenda for environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development, and welcome the advances made by Disaster Risk Reduction strategies and programmes in mainstreaming these aspects of sustainable urbanisation into development plans, legislation and policies; we further commit to maintaining the use of data, monitoring and planning frameworks to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation techniques within our member states, and support the Sendai Framework Agreement proposal for gender, age, disability and cultural perspectives to be adopted into disaster management policies, plans and practices.
  16. Further commit to building urban resilience in our cities and towns through the development of quality, resource efficient infrastructure, environmentally informed spatial planning, and ensuring the protection of risk-prone areas of formal and informal settlements, and the progressive rehabilitation of unsafe areas.
  17. Encourage the implementation of long-term regional and spatial planning that fosters synergies and partnerships between metropolitan, peri-urban and rural areas to promote equitable growth and targeted investments along the rural-urban continuum.
  18. Note, overall, that our country situations differ, and that our policy options for inclusivity and well-managed urbanisation are tailored to our own contexts, and are committed however to inter-regional and multi-stakeholder engagements locally, nationally, and internationally, to promote global consistency in our shared and collaborative approaches to building the sustainable and inclusive cities that will bring shared prosperity for the planet.
  19. Pledge to support national and international research institutes, think-tanks and learning networks to create open and shared platforms to build the knowledge economy for urban development, including innovative ideas for the smart city.
  20. Encourage collaboration, agreements, linkages and exchanges by all levels of government of BRICS countries, and between member states, to ensure the active implementation of this Declaration.
  21. Convene a BRICS Cities Council of Mayors to further consolidate the collaborative efforts in order to implement the resolutions contained in this Declaration.

APPROVED AND ADOPTED at Buffalo City, Eastern Cape Province

29 June 2018

BRICS delegates talk about agricultural and climate change (Делегаты БРИКС говорят об изменениях в сельском хозяйстве и климате) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: ecology, social_issues, expert_opinion
South Africa

The seminar focused on climate-smart actions and approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving efficiencies, enhancing resilience of agricultural and food production systems and ensuring food security.

June 26, 2018 Vice minister of the ministry of agriculture of the People's Republic of China, Yu Kangzhen and DAFF director general Mike Mhlangena.

Mpumalanga played host to the eighth meeting on agriculture and agrarian development of the BRICS countries last week at the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate.

Hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in partnership with the Mpumalanga provincial government, delegates of those portfolios met with ministers of some of the five member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

The meeting was held under the theme "Reducing the negative impact of climate change on food security and adaptation of agriculture to climate change," and preceded the BRICS head of states summit in July.

The seminar focused on climate-smart actions and approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improving efficiencies, enhancing resilience of agricultural and food production systems and ensuring food security.

The key message was delivered by DAFF director-general Mike Mlengana.

Climate-smart approaches of several community projects were presented. Delegates from each country contributed to a panel dialogue on promoting climate-smart actions to enhance resilience to climate change and discussed experiences, lessons learned and collaborative actions and projects.

The following day delegates visited a number of projects in the area, including the Lillydale Home-Based Care project in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality, and research projects of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Mbombela.

At Lillydale the international delegates learned more about the project's Vaseline and vegetables production.

The centre was established and is run by 14 women with the purpose of providing a home or shelter for victims of HIV/Aids. The project has managed to create 35 jobs and attracted more than 200 volunteers who work as carers.

It operates on four hectares on which vegetables are planted.

Vaseline oil is produced from sisal harvested on an old project nearby, once managed by the former GaZankulu Homeland Government. They hope to secure more land where sisal will be planted in order to expand the Vaseline production.

At the ARC, delegates were introduced by Dr Karin Hannweg to research projects on the water needs of avocado trees, manipulation of litchi trees to adapt to climate change, and further laboratory research on the breeding of better adapted crops.

Hosting premier, Refilwe Mtshweni, addressed the delegates at a gala dinner, saying it was an honour to host the seminar, since the larger part of the province is used for agriculture due to its climate diversity.

She admitted that the beauty of the province depends entirely on the response to climate change and that global climate change is a physical reality that affects the entire economy as well as its supporting sectors.

The province also finds itself at the centre of a dichotomy of the mining and agricultural sectors, both economic drivers but "uncomfortable neighbours", especially in relation to climate change and food security in the country.

As that illustrates the challenge in balancing South Africa's food, water and energy needs within a limited natural resource base, she expressed the hope that the delegates used the opportunity to engage in finding ways to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on food security.
Russian security chief warns unilateral moves on Iran deal undercut international law (Глава российской безопасности предупредил, что односторонние шаги по делу Ирана подрывают международное право) / Russia, June, 2018
Keywords: national_security, top_level_meeting

DURBAN, June 29. /TASS/. Unilateral steps to disrupt major international agreements indicate clear evidence of efforts aimed at undermining international law, Russia's Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said at a meeting with top representatives of BRICS countries overseeing security issues.

"Member-states of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) need to work out joint responses to today's tough challenges. Among them are mounting tensions and confrontation, the rising use of force, the erosion of the system of international law, and neglecting multilateral structures, including the United Nations, which is particularly clear given the background of unilateral actions aimed at undermining major international agreements," Patrushev detailed.

"I mean the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program and Middle East peace policies," he emphasized.

According to the Russian security chief, against this background, there is the need to ensure strict compliance with international law, the goals and principles of the UN Charter, including sovereign equality and non-interference in domestic affairs of other states, and also build on collective approaches and defend the principles of indivisibility of the international system.

"The attempts at using double standards and unilateral measures of influence in violation of the fundamental statutes and regulations, and moreover military force, are unacceptable," the top security official noted.

"We should create a united front in the fight against the drive by certain states to preserve hegemony in global affairs at the expense of other countries," Patrushev stressed. Amid surging global and regional turbulence, BRICS acts as a crucial stabilizing factor in global affairs," he pointed out.

According to Patrushev, BRICS members share views on key global issues and actively cooperate at major international platforms, including the United Nations, the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Patrushev has accused the West, specifically, the US of trying to counter efforts to shape a multipolar world.

"The West led by the US insists that the departure from the so-called liberal world order is tantamount to plunging into chaos," he said at a meeting of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues. "Various methods of pressure - economic, information, psychological, military and political - are used."

"The process of shaping a more fair polycentric world order has been very difficult," he said. "This objective process is facing counteraction by those seeking to retain their dominance in the world."
Speech by Deputy Minister Ms Reginah Mhaule - BRICS in Africa - Working Towards the Realisation of the African Aspirations - In partnership with the Institute for Global Dialogue - University of South Africa - Pretoria, 27 June 2018 (Выступление заместителя министра г-жи Регины Мауле - БРИКС в Африке - Работа над реализацией африканских устремлений - В партнерстве с Институтом глобального диалога - Южно-Африканский университет - Претория, 27 июня 2018 года) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting
South Africa

Programme Director
Ambassador Nkosi
Dr Philani Mthembu
Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa
Prof Lesiba Tefo
Fellow Participants & International Guest
Esteemed Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honour for me to be afforded this opportunity to engage with you on this occasion of South Africa's membership of the BRICS formation. South Africa will be hosting the BRICS Summit in July 2018, at the time this formation marks its 20 year anniversary which coincides with the commemoration of the centenary of Nelson Mandela who would have turned 100 this year had he lived longer. I would not leave out the fact that we also commemorate the centenary of another icon of the South African liberation struggle Mama Albertina Sisulu.

Both Tata Madiba and Mama Sisulu have contributed immensely on laying the foundation of an independent and democratic foreign policy which we continue to implement.

As we have heard about the BRICS formation and our country's membership to it, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa represents one of the most significant developments in global government and this is a bloc that brings together sufficiently great members of emerging powers that are designed to take significant international decision and in the negotiations of major global affairs.

This countries are joined together by a strong desire to change the world system with the purpose of reflecting the diversity of the world power, economies, culture and the societies in general.


Allow me to contextualise the South Africa's membership of the BRICS formation for the benefit of all our stakeholders by quoting our Leader Nelson Mandela's words at the world economic forum Southern Africa summit in 1994, when he said '' this is our collective achievement which has opened up new opportunities for us to exploit our great potential and indeed to boldly cross the threshold of a new and great era."

The formation of BRICS by the emerging powers has attracted significant academic interest which resulted into a significant growth in literature on the subject.

BRICS represents 43 percent of the world's population and that triggered academic interest in understanding the political, economic, social, scientific and technological importance of the figuration of the world power, both its potentials and its weaknesses.

As a result different BRICS forums were established such as the academic forum, business forum, the young diplomatic forum and others.

Former President Mandela, in his capacity as our Head of State and Government, championed the strengthening of regional and international economic cooperation to ensure that we leverage the existing and new opportunities while adhering to our international obligations. In 2011 when our Country was invited to join the then BRIC formation, South Africa favourably considered the invite because it is in line with the vision of our forefathers, which is the strengthening of international economic cooperation for mutual benefit as already stated above.

South Africa is not in the BRICS for its own sake, and perhaps for selfish consideration only, but is there to advance the interest and aspirations of Africa, the Global South and humanity at large.

Ladies and gentlemen

I must also take this opportunity to briefly reflect on the genesis of our solidarity with countries of the South so that we can properly locate the BRICS formation in this regard. 63 years ago, in April 1955, countries of Asia and Africa met at the historic Bandung Conference to determine their common position amid the fast emerging Cold War bi-polarisation.

South Africa was represented, among others, by none other than Moses Kotane and Maulvi Cachalia. This is where the present day Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was conceived.

Your Excellencies

I hope that this brief background will enhance our collective comprehension of the locus of BRICS in South Africa's foreign policy. I know that in some quotas our membership of the BRICS formation was and continues to be deliberately misrepresented as a negation of our relations with the development partners of the North. It is wrongly perceived as a deviation from our founding foreign policy principle. We have stated so many times that this formation must be regarded as a complimentary mechanism and is based on our founding principles and foreign policy pillars

I must therefore urge everybody to work hard so that this formation is construed truly for what it stands for.

Of course the BRICS formation was bound to tilt the balances of forces at global level considering that we, among others, collectively produce a third of the world's industrial products and one half of agricultural goods. During its infantry stages, researches estimated that the BRICS will dominate the world by 2050, however the revised projections indicates that this could happen as early as 2027.

Ladies and gentlemen

Distractors of the BRICS thought and communicated that this would be another talk show with no tangible deliverables. We can however agree that it is a force to be reckoned with in the international arena and has contributed to increased dispersal of global political and economic power. I must state that the progress that has been recorded thus far is due to our collective commitment to see through the implementation of all our decisions which are always based on consensus.

Brand SA in its recent Research Report titled: - "The BRICS brand: from economic concept to institution of global governance", indicates that between the years 2009 and 2017 BRICS Summits made a total of 406 summit declarations. Brand SA further informs us that 70% of summit decisions have been implemented to date.

They further indicate that, in an effort to deepen and widen cooperation and collaboration, the BRICS formation has convened approximately 160 meetings at different levels, convened by Ministers of trade, finance, foreign affairs, health, agriculture, statistical authorities, and competition commissions which led to the adoption of 60 documents which in turn is giving effect to working groups, contact groups and related platforms to coordinate activities.

I urge you to read this entire report because it is an important yard stick to measure the success of the BRICS formation of which we are proud of.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We therefore seek to build on the already recorded achievement and ensure that our chair ship increases support for Africa's development Agenda. We have an opportunity to leverage on the tectonic shift in global power dynamics and reassert ourselves as a united and renewed continent. This is what we are as the continent!!!

We are going to have a dedicated discussion during the Africa-Outreach meeting of selected Heads of State and government in the margins of the July Summit. I can assure you that building on the Durban 2013 out-reach approach, the 2018 Summit will produce practical steps to continue the BRICS support for the implementation of the African Union's Agenda 2063 through the BRICS.

This comes at a time when the continent has made great strides in pursuit of economically integrated Africa which promotes the movement of goods and services. As you may be aware the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) was signed in Rwanda in March this year and we continue with our national processes which will culminate in the country's accession to the agreement.

President Ramaphosa underscored the importance of an integrated African economy during the Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum when he said;-

"For Africa to grow and for its people to flourish, its economies need to be more effectively integrated into the global economy".

Your Excellencies

In this way we will be able to improve Intra-Africa trade and leverage more on the alternative funding that the BRICS New Development Bank provides for infrastructure development and sustainable development. The continent is already benefiting in this regard, particularly, in implementing the BRICS funded African Union (AU) North-South Development Corridor projects.

On our part we benefitted from the 2016 approved BRICS project funding when we were granted 180 million USD for renewable energy which helped us to stabilise our electricity grid during difficult times in this area. We have just been granted an additional loan of USD 200 million by the NDB in May 2018 for expansion of the Durban port. I must confess that for a newly established multilateral bank by developing nations to have disbursed loans totalling USD 5.1 billion by 2018 not be expected by many who expressed doubt during the establishment of the Bank.

Programme Director

I also wish to reflect briefly on the concept of the BRICS Plus which was innovated by China in 2017. We wish to continue with this approach to ensure maximum synergy between our Chairship of BRICS and that of China. In this regard, South Africa has elected to invite the Leaders of the following countries representing Regional Economic Communities in the Global South and the United Nations namely:-

  • Argentina - as Chair of the G20 and influential Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) member
  • Indonesia - as Co-Chair of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership with South Africa and influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member
  • Egypt - as Chair of the Group of 77 (G77) +China
  • Jamaica - as incoming Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
  • Turkey - as Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
  • United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres
Together with my colleagues we have continued to highlight this approach to all our stakeholders and also inform them about the following newly identified areas of cooperation:

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

Ladies and gentlemen

It is my considered view that through this lecture we have a solid foundation for debating various elements of South Africa's membership of the BRICS. Am also certain that we will do so with a view to improve in areas that require such improvement but also ensure common and collective improved comprehension of the subject matter.

We must always remember the world we operate in and remain alive to the challenges we are facing as a continent, the Global South and humanity at large.

I thank you!

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS and Cryptocurrency Governance: Where Do We Stand? (БРИКС и управление криптовалютами: где мы находимся?) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Nadja Bester

While there is much global attention on key BRICS countries embroiled in the Governments vs Crypto debate, the media tends to glance over developments within the greater BRICS member cohort. This article provides an overview of governmental positions on cryptocurrencies as it pertains to legal and regulatory rulings of ICOs, crypto exchanges, crypto-to-fiat conversions, cryptocurrency payments, and mining.

Cryptocurrencies: A Tumultuous History

Cryptocurrencies have come a long way since Satoshi Nakamoto's Hollywood-esque aim-shoot-gone approach. The anonymous developer's landmark white paper, released in late 2010, has given the world first bitcoin, then a host of other virtual currencies in its wake. His mysterious disappearance, in turn, has left behind plenty to speculate about, as did bitcoin's often controversial early history.

In the early days, everyone but a tiny cognizant group took to calling bitcoin a "criminal" currency, and it required extensive input by the cryptocurrency's far-flung international community to shift public opinion away from Silk Road and Mt. Gox. Judging by the ripples cryptocurrencies are making on Wall Street and the financial world, these efforts have, by and large, been successful.

Cryptocurrencies Today

Global focus is shifting from cryptocurrencies - blockchain technology's first use case - onto the underlying technology itself. However, this does not imply that cryptocurrencies are a dying breed. To the contrary, cryptocurrencies' global market cap reached an all-time high of US$813 billion in early January 2018. Bitcoin's market valuation alone has been as high as US$327 billion (circa December 2017).

Global Crypto Governance

Few innovations have been as disruptive in nature as cryptocurrencies. Taking the world by storm, it's seen plenty Average Joes - who hitherto have given hardly a thought to the investment world - become portfolio masters. Few topics have been as vexed, and the word "bitcoin" is a surefire way to evoke an emotive response in almost any individual.

Governments around the world have displayed a similar love-hate stance. Hence, there is a sharp contrast between an outright ban in some countries and near-wholehearted adoption in others.

The concept of digital currencies is unfamiliar and thus misunderstood by many. Due to its status as an independent financial system, separate from the eyes and ears of governmental and banking input, it's easy to grasp why many administrations and financial institutions view it as a threat.

To that end, cryptocurrencies' continued climb in popularity - and an especial catapult by bitcoin's meteoric rise - have resulted in most countries moving to adopt some official stance or other. It's early days yet, and many nations temporarily find themselves in a 'wait and see' repose. Others - especially those territories where cryptocurrency activity has been at a premium - have had to adapt to the fact that the general populace does indeed have the power and capability to create an alternative financial system out of nothing but 1s and 0s.

Countries like Japan adopted a bullish approach to its growth within their borders, while simultaneously implementing regulatory frameworks to stay in keeping with the sovereignty's supervision. Others, like China and South Korea, have taken their citizens on rollercoaster rides in their often unexpected rulings.

Some European-based cryptocurrencies and blockchain ecosystems take a proactive approach in the absence of formal regulations by voluntarily complying with the more stringent rules of Euro countries such as Gibraltar and Malta., a cryptobank that accepts crypto assets as loan collateral, adheres to the requirements set by traditional financial authorities and regulators and is an example of how the market is bridging the unregulated environment cryptocurrencies operate in to protect consumers and contribute to the mainstream adoption of crypto.

BRICS and Crypto Governance

First coined in 2001, BRIC comprised the four then-biggest emerging economic markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. South Africa, added in 2011, completed the quintuple, culminating in the acronym BRICS.

Estimations predict that some of its members will be among the world's leading economies by 2050. China is already second in the lead as the planet's top GDP-ranking nation and is expected to surpass the United States by 2030. India, Brazil, and Russia all follow closely behind. In 2017, these nations had a total combined population that is almost equal to that of the entire global population.

Many view the rise of crypto in these countries as posing a sizeable threat to its expanding traditional currencies and financial industries. Nevertheless, the low barrier to entry posed by cryptocurrencies makes it the perfect entry point for investors in these nations to gain access to investment opportunities. It's little wonder, then, that so many BRICS citizens have jumped on board the crypto train.

Due to money being channelled into virtual currencies, there's a marked - and growing - drain on the proverbial king's coffers. Subsequently, the financial loss experienced by nation states have resulted in strong opinions regarding the legalities of cryptocurrencies. In some cases, this has been followed up by strong actions.

We take a brief look at cryptocurrency governance in each of the BRICS constituents in turn.


Economic power:

  • Largest economy in Latin America
  • Second largest economy in the Americas
  • 8th largest global economy by nominal GDP (US$2.080 trillion in 2018)
  • 8th largest global economy by purchasing power parity (US$3.219 trillion in 2018)
Population size:

  • 210.4 million
Estimated number of individual investors:

  • In December 2017, 1.4 million spread across top 3 exchanges that process 95% of the country's cryptocurrency transactions
  • More crypto trading accounts are being opened than people trading in traditional securities
Cryptocurrencies overall legal status:

  • Legal
Cryptocurrency overall regulation status:

  • Unregulated
  • Local investment funds prohibited from buying cryptocurrencies
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) legal status:

  • Unregulated
Crypto exchanges legal status:

  • Unregulated
Legal status of crypto-to-fiat conversions:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency payments legal status:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency mining legal status:

  • Unregulated
Governmental opinion on cryptocurrencies:

  • Warnings issued
  • Discouraged
Cryptocurrency tax status:

  • Viewed as an asset and not a currency
  • Subject to 15% capital gains taxes if above a certain threshold
Official plans to increase crypto regulation:

  • None at present
Pending proposals:

  • Draft bill proposes to criminalise commercialisation, intermediation, and acceptance of digital currencies as a payment method

Economic power:

  • Contains more than 30% of the world's natural resources
  • Regarded as the world's energy superpower
  • 12th largest global economy by nominal GDP (US$1.28 trillion in 2016)
  • 6th largest global economy by purchasing power parity (US$3.938 trillion in 2017)
Population size:

  • 143.9 million
Estimated number of individual investors:

  • Unknown
  • An estimated 1 in 5 ICOs are Russian-owned
Cryptocurrencies overall legal status:

  • Legal
Cryptocurrency overall regulation status:

  • Lean towards regulation rather than all-out bans
  • Various regulation frameworks in the pipeline
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) legal status:

  • Regulation procedures in progress
  • ICOs will need to comply with capital requirements, accreditation status, and audits
Crypto exchanges legal status:

  • Legal
Legal status of crypto-to-fiat conversions:

  • Legal
Cryptocurrency payments legal status:

  • Regulatory bills in progress
  • Officials' stance is divided
Cryptocurrency mining legal status:

  • Legal, with regulation and accompanying quotas and special tariffs planned
  • Taxable if traded internationally
Governmental opinion on cryptocurrencies:

  • Warnings issued
  • Suggested that it not be for ordinary investors; instead, the realm of professional traders
  • Divided; some departments and officials are more pro-crypto than others
Cryptocurrency tax status:

  • Viewed as an asset and not a currency
  • Cryptocurrency mining considered an entrepreneurial activity, and resulting trading will be taxable
  • Tax breaks for cryptocurrency investment profits have been proposed
Official plans to increase crypto regulation:

  • Yes, active regulatory involvement planned
  • Regulation of Digital Assets Regulation Bill reported to commence by July 1st
Pending proposals:

  • Draft bill proposes to criminalise digital currencies as a payment method
  • Draft bill proposes to legalise digital currencies as a payment method under government-sanctioned conditions

Economic power:

  • Second largest BRICS member by GDP
  • Second largest BRICS member by population
  • The world's fastest-growing major economy
  • Predicted to be one of the world's top 3 economic powers over the next 10-15 years
  • 6th largest global economy by nominal GDP (US$2.65 trillion in 2018)
  • 3rd largest global economy by purchasing power parity (US$10.356 trillion in 2018)
Population size:

  • 1.350 billion
Estimated number of individual investors:

  • There are an estimated 5 million users spread across ten exchanges (there are at least a total of 15 in the country), with an estimated US$3.5 billion trading volume over a 17-month period
Cryptocurrencies overall legal status:

  • Legal
  • Not considered legal tender
  • Warned against financing illegitimate activities or use as a payment system
  • Reserve Bank, in the absence of any research, put a blanket ban on crypto exchanges which will come into effect by July 5th; appeals have been made, and a government panel is reportedly reconsidering the prohibition
  • Financial firms banned from trading in crypto
Cryptocurrency overall regulation status:

  • Unregulated
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) legal status:

  • Unregulated
Crypto exchanges legal status:

  • Unregulated
Legal status of crypto-to-fiat conversions:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency payments legal status:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency mining legal status:

  • Unregulated
Governmental opinion on cryptocurrencies:

  • Warnings issued
  • Discouraged
Cryptocurrency tax status:

  • No official stance, but purportedly leans toward treating it as an asset and not a currency
  • Cryptocurrency capital assets and gains are subject to tax liability
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes have issued notices to 100,000 individuals trading on exchanges who failed to declare their crypto assets to authorities
  • 18% GST tax on crypto trading is being considered
Official plans to increase crypto regulation:

  • Yes
Pending proposals:

  • Proposal to link exchange registrations to Aadhaar IDs or Permanent Account Numbers (PAN)
  • Not a proposal, but a prominent finance official is of the opinion it should be banned entirely

Economic power:

  • Largest BRICS member by GDP
  • Largest BRICS member by population
  • World's largest trading nation
  • World's largest manufacturing economy and goods exporter
  • World's second largest goods importer
  • World's fastest growing consumer market
  • 2nd largest global economy by nominal GDP (US$14.23 trillion in 2018)
  • Largest global economy by purchasing power parity (US$23.57 trillion in 2017)
Population size:

  • 1.413 billion
Estimated number of individual investors:

  • Unknown, but China once comprised 95% of bitcoin's global trading volume
Cryptocurrencies overall legal status:

  • Illegal
Cryptocurrency overall regulation status:

  • Banned
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) legal status:

  • Banned
Crypto exchanges legal status:

  • Banned
  • Access to foreign crypto exchange websites to be restricted behind China's firewall
Legal status of crypto-to-fiat conversions:

  • Banned
Cryptocurrency payments legal status:

  • Banned
Cryptocurrency mining legal status:

  • China mines 75% of the world's bitcoin supply
  • Tentatively legal, but this might be set to change
Governmental opinion on cryptocurrencies:

  • Banned
Cryptocurrency tax status:

  • Not applicable due to ban
Official plans to increase crypto regulation:

  • Yes, mining still to be addressed
Pending actions:

  • A multi-agency tasked force has tasked provincial governments to "actively guide" mining companies out of the crypto mining industry
  • Popular sentiment agrees that China will revoke the ban once market regulations have been perfected
South Africa

Economic power:

  • Smallest BRICS member by GDP
  • Smallest BRICS member by population
  • Most industrialised country in Africa
  • Second largest economy in Africa
  • Contributes 35% of Africa's GDP
  • Only African member of the G20
  • 34th largest global economy by nominal GDP (US$280.37 billion in 2017)
  • 30th largest global economy by purchasing power parity (US$758.12 billion in 2017)
Population size:

  • 57,227,388
Estimated number of individual investors:

  • Unknown, but has held the #1 country spot for term "bitcoin" on Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) search
Cryptocurrencies overall legal status:

  • Legal
  • Considered a cyber-token, not a currency
Cryptocurrency overall regulation status:

  • Unregulated
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) legal status:

  • Unregulated
Crypto exchanges legal status:

  • Unregulated
Legal status of crypto-to-fiat conversions:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency payments legal status:

  • Unregulated
Cryptocurrency mining legal status:

  • Unregulated
Governmental opinion on cryptocurrencies:

  • Warnings issued

  • Discouraged
Cryptocurrency tax status:

  • Viewed as an asset and not a currency
  • Subject to capital gains tax
Official plans to increase crypto regulation:

  • Yes
Pending actions:

  • South African Reserve Bank released plans to test cryptocurrency regulations in a sandbox environment

While China has aggressively clamped down on all cryptocurrency activities within its borders, Russia is actively intent on regulating the market. While India has started down what appears to be a hostile course of action, Brazil and South Africa are both, seemingly, taking their time in developing formal legal and regulatory frameworks around virtual currencies.

While market caps may rise and fall, few experts feel that cryptocurrencies will disappear entirely. Instead, there is a consensus that what is at present still a highly unstable and downright volatile market will eventually mature. This shared sentiment indicates that while governments may develop official policies around the generation, trading, and use of cryptocurrencies, it will remain a global point of contention for perhaps decades to come.

All things considered, BRICS countries, with their fast-growing economies and rising middle-class cohorts, will have a tough time preventing citizens from partaking in this new financial stream.

* Note that current legal and regulatory positions are subject to change at any time.
Where Brics stands as globe faces new cold war (Где находится БРИКС, когда земной шар сталкивается с новой холодной войной) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: David Monyae and Bhaso Ndzhedze

It would appear that with each Brics summit, lying at the flank are naysayers criticising and counting down the days for the association, in its 11th year, to crumble. And yet, the grouping reaps outcomes, no matter how gradually and despite the mounting challenges from within and outside the club of emerging economies.

Perhaps the greatest signifier has been the New Development which has in its infancy issued its first green bond, and raised RMB3billion (R6.2bn) in the Chinese bond market, enabled by the achievement of a triple-A domestic credit rating in China.

The New Development Bank has committed $1.5bn (R20.3bn) in loans to Brics countries, emphasising its investment on the renewable-energy sector. Plans are underway to reach the target of between $10bn and $15bn of loans by 2021 and to expand lending outside the Brics membership. Ever ambitious, the grouping has many plans and there is every reason to believe that it will achieve a sizeable portion of them.

Likely to be on the cards this year is the development of the Brics Rating Agency. The time has never been riper for such a formation. The cry for the rating agency stems from the fact that the post-1945 world order is sagging under the weight of its own contradictions. The need has never been starker for an alternative to the Western-centred world order, and one of the sorest areas in need of this balancing is that of global financial institutions.

The rot is displayed in the fact that US ratings agencies Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's failed to predict the global financial crisis of 2008/9, leading the second Basel Accords to discourage reliance on the ratings agencies by banks. Further symptoms of decay are to be found in the fact that America is bent on a trade war with a myriad states, among them China, Canada and the EU. South Africa has not been spared, particularly its steel sector.

This lends all the more weight to the pragmatic quarters in South African foreign policy-making. The country needs the Brics and the West, and therefore cannot afford over-reliance on either. South Africa must hedge and formulate its foreign policy according to the dictates of its needs.

What the Brics represent, especially for Africa and the global south in general, is the reformulation of a global order along the lines of parallel institutions. Some of the beneficiaries of this are the developed states. With the world in such a fragmented state, the reality is that there has been, and there can be, no attempt at reform. The only option is the reformulation of the global order. This is part of what the Brics represent.

For Africa, this carries a lot of importance. The Brics countries do more trade with African states (even excluding South Africa) than they do with one another. But if they are to represent a shift in the global order, it needs to be concomitant with a shift in relations vis-à-vis the continent. As China and India (along with Japan) propose grand plans of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, respectively, they should co-operate with African states so that they can co-plan the infrastructural framework in order to prevent them from replicating the infamously extractive railways and port systems of the colonial era.

This is probably the last Brics summit before the formal declaration of a new cold war. The contours of this are apparent in the rate at which many global players, including the Brics states, are militarily posturing. Notwithstanding the fact that three of them are nuclear powers, the states have got into the business of developing military bases overseas, and particularly in Africa. Nato has seen expansion into new territory into Latin America with the joining of Colombia into the fold. It is clear we are on the brink of seeing the fabric of the international global order shaken as there is an increased fear of developing countries catching up, especially in the areas of hi-tech, artificial intelligence and other signposts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The summit holds a particular importance for South Africa on two fronts.

First, this is to be President Cyril Ramaphosa's first chaired Brics session. Further underlining this is the economic downturn in the country of -2.2 on a year-on-year basis. Unemployment figures are also looking dim, and the rand/dollar exchange reached a six-month low at R14 to the dollar.

Second, South Africa has been elected into the UN Security Council for the 2019/20 term. This represents a golden opportunity for the country to seize. In this area, South Africa's interests include the unemployment crisis. The UN and the UNSC are potential avenues to be harnessed for growth.

The Brics is not a revolutionary force. Contrary to the views held by those in both the ultra-right and the ultra-left who perceive the Brics as bent on upsetting the global order; the latter inevitably reprimand it for not going far enough. In doing so they castigate it for not reaching standards they never declared as aspiring to. In truth, these countries are pursuing only their national interests in the global arena.

They just happen to be peripheral states ascending to the core. What is needed is for South Africa to be just as effective as its Brics counterparts at staking its own claim, with a conscience for the African agenda as well as matters of mutual concern and development that go back to Bandung in 1955, and which have remained at the front burner of the priority list for the global south.

* Dr David Monyae is a senior political analyst and co-director at the University of Johannesburg Confucius Institute and Bhaso Ndzendze is a research co-ordinator at the same institute.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Energy Minister talks up renewables, proposes closer BRICS cooperation (Министр энергетики обсуждает возобновляемые источники энергии, предлагает более тесное сотрудничество БРИКС) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, ecology, sustainable_development
South Africa

Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe proposed closer cooperation between BRICS countries on energy when he opened the third BRICS meeting of Energy Ministers in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"In light of the reality that the global energy transition impacts directly on our own respective plans and policies, it is an opportune time to consider extending BRICS cooperation on energy beyond energy savings and energy efficiency," said Radebe, according to his prepared remarks.

Radebe noted that BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – had already agreed to increase cooperation, particularly in the filed of clean energy.

The cooperation agreement is included in the 'Strategy For BRICS Economic Partnership', a document adopted at the 2015 Leaders' Summit.

It promises that BRICS countries will work together to "promote efficient and environmentally friendly use of fossil fuels in the BRICS countries", which includes cooperation in exploration and development of technologies aimed at hard-to-recover resources extraction.

The countries also agreed to increase cooperation in the joint development and sharing of energy efficient and cleaner energy technologies.

On Thursday Radebe said that inter-BRICS energy collaboration should be expanded to include things like renewable energy, energy storage, electric vehicles and natural gas.

He also proposed that a committee be established to advance BRICS mutual energy activities, and the countries pursue closer cooperation via already-established channels such as the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank.

"This will also require collective action with a view to improving alignment between BRICS national energy focal points and relevant multilateral fora supportive of the global energy transition and increased energy security," he said.

While Radebe was addressing the summit, power utility Eskom and unions were stuck in another day of wage negotiations.

The cash-strapped power utility originally proposed a wage freeze for its employees, citing strained finances. After employees threatened to strike, this was changed to a 4.7% increase, and then a 5% increase. These were in turn rejected by employees.

Some unions have also criticised state plans to include more renewable energy in SA's energy mix - something which Radede played up on Thursday - arguing it would waste money and lead to fewer jobs in the coal mining industry.

Nel stresses importance of debating industrial growth plan (Нел подчеркивает важность обсуждения плана промышленного роста) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: quotation, social_issues, sustainable_development
South Africa

East London – South African Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, on Thursday said it was critical to debate how to plan for industrial growth, manage urban influx, and sustainable urbanisation.

"We should also develop rural areas and smaller towns and ensure viable municipal spaces going forward, our session on urban rural infrastructure development will hopefully provide answers to some of these questions," Nel said at the BRICS meetings hosted by the Buffalo City Municipality in East London.

BRICS is the acronym for five major emerging national economies -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

He said the key lever is for inter-disciplinary and logistical planning, and that these integrated infrastructure investments, public transports and human settlements needed to be sustained for building more inclusive urban economies, improving the ways that cities are governed, strengthening the management of city finances and empowering communities to participate in urban design.

"Our urban agenda permits us to action these levers through mobilisation from government and the whole of society approach, which at a global level invites our BRICS partners to support and engage us on our mutual commonalities, challenges and opportunities," he said.
BRICS Young Scientist Forum kicks off in Durban (Форум молодых ученых BRICS стартовал в Дурбане) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Over 200 young scientists from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are convening in Durban for the 3rd BRICS Young Scientist Forum. The forum got under way this morning, with the young people eager to discuss their role in using science, technology and innovation (STI) to contribute to society.

The 1st BRICS Young Scientist Forum was held India, and the 2nd in China in 2017.

South Africa assumed the BRICS Presidency in January this year, and will host the 10th BRICS Summit next month. The year is of special significance in the BRICS historical trajectory, as 2018 concludes the first decade of BRICS summits at the highest diplomatic level.The year is also important as South Africa's chairing of the summit coincides with the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth.

South Africa's approach is to ensure the continuity of BRICS programmes, while taking domestic and regional priorities into account. The country is committed to approximately 100 sectoral meetings, and intends to bring a specific focus to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In the tradition of previous BRICS Summits, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is hosting a wide range of meetings to discuss the role of STI in society.

One of the new areas for BRICS cooperation proposed by South Africa is the establishment of a centre for collaboration on vaccine research, development and innovation. Given the economic benefits to be derived from the empowerment of women, particularly in developing countries, South Africa is also proposing a BRICS gender and women's forum.

The Young Scientist Forum takes place under the theme "Building BRICS youth leadership through science, technology and innovation".

Opening the forum, the DST Chief Director: Overseas Bilateral Cooperation, Dr Neville Arendse, said the forum was a platform for talented young scientists and researchers to exchange perspectives on transformative change and to forge sustainable research partnerships and networks.

"The forum will promote youth-driven creative solutions to the most pressing socio-economic problems in their societies," said Dr Arendse told the delegates.

Representing the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, Prof. Pang Yu said that China hoped the platform would expand collaboration, encourage new academic inspiration, and build young leaders in STI.

Russia's Prof. Albina Kutuzova said that many of the resolutions taken at the 2nd forum held in China in 2017 had been successfully implemented.

"The forum has helped participants master their skills, broaden their horizons and improve their academic and policy qualifications. We place great hopes on the successful continuation of cooperation within the framework of the BRICS Young Scientist Forum," said Prof. Kutuzova.

A PhD candidate in ecological remote sensing with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Basanda Nondlazi, emphasised the need for the resolutions of the forum to be inclusive and for science, technology and innovation to have a positive effect on society and the economy.

The four-day event includes parallel sessions on the present and future energy imperatives of the BRICS economies, the strategic importance of water resources in the context of climate change, and the impact and challenges of modern ICT technologies on youth identity and cultural choices.

A Young Women in Science Dialogue will see young women scientists and researchers discuss career choices, mobility, equality and empowerment in institutions of higher learning and the workplace. They will be able to share their country's approaches to finding practical solutions to these challenges at institutional and policy level.

The BRICS Young Innovator Prize will be awarded to recognise talented young entrepreneurs and researchers whose outstanding innovations (inventions, products, applications and services) will have a profound impact on the socio-economic environment and conditions of life in BRICS societies.

A workshop on Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship will allow participants to share ideas on creating an innovation ecosystem for the youth, and how BRICS countries can support each other in this endeavour. It will also look at the translation of young scientists' research work into marketable products and services, and the creation of sustainable innovative start-ups.

There will also be a seminar to contextualise the role and importance of science diplomacy, advice and communication in networking and career development, and look ways to enhance cooperation and communication between young scientists in BRICS countries.

The event is an exciting opportunity for young people to exchange ideas and perspectives on science, and to find creative solutions for the common good.
Brics Youth: Everything about us without us? (Молодежь БРИКС: Все о нас - без нас?) / Namibia, June, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, summit, expert_opinion
Author: Njabulo Maphumulo

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet in Johannesburg from July 25 to 27 for the 10th Brics Summit. Prior to the summit a number of other Brics dialogues will take place, including the Business Council, Academic Forum, Civil Brics and Brics Youth.

Brics Youth was set up in 2013 to put youth voices on the Brics agenda and to promote and popularise Brics among young people between the ages of 15 and 34 in each country.

At the time, in March 2013, then-president Jacob Zuma promised the Durban Brics Summit would "contribute immensely to satisfying the employment and development needs of our young population" and that youth employment would be "central to our engagements and discussions with the grouping". But the fight against South African youth unemployment has been lost.

Five years later, does South Africa's hosting of the Brics Youth participatory processes show any indication of improving prospects for youth in Brics countries and South African youth in particular?
Raymond Matlala plays a leading role in Brics Youth South Africa through his nongovernmental organisation South Africa Youth International Diplomacy, the G20 Youth Forum and the Euro-Brics Youth Platform, and he led a recent process formulating Brics Youth recommendations for a civil society meeting called pre-Civil Brics.

In an interview last month, he admitted that the immediate concern facing Brics Youth is its lack of sufficient representivity when it takes positions on behalf of millions of young people. This means that a disconnect may exist between the positions and strategies undertaken by Brics Youth and those taken by more representative or legitimate youth movements.

Representivity is entrusted to the National Youth Development Agency, a controversial statutory body set up by Parliament in 2008. Each Brics state has its own equivalent government youth agency that selects delegates. There is no formal elective process, which immediately raises questions about the intended political function of the structure.

Matlala, who attended the 2017 Brics Youth Summit in Beijing, agrees that Brics Youth has a problem.

"Brics Youth is regarded as an official platform where the decisions taken are binding to all member countries. We are still advocating for a permanent structure," he said in the interview. "We don't reach the majority of young people, particularly those in rural and peri-urban areas. This information honestly reaches mostly young people in universities."

If representatives are handpicked by government agencies, their independence of perspective and legitimacy is questionable. With authoritarianism on the rise in Russia and India — and China being even more totalitarian — and with the closing of democratic spaces in Brazil since the 2016 coup, the other Brics countries provide even less opportunity for these types of initiatives to present independent views.

Matlala acknowledges that Brics Youth lacks a constituency, but insists they can put the concerns of youth on the Brics agenda.

"There are a few policies that as young people in the Brics countries we all agree on. One is on collaboration in education and to advocate for free, equal and quality education among all the Brics member states. We also agree strongly on the issue of climate change, of reducing the carbon footprint," Matlala said. "We say: 'As the Brics countries, what are you as leaders doing on this front?' We then challenge our leaders on these particular issues, on education, on youth unemployment, on the climate."

Matlala added: "You also know that there is the New Development Bank now. In this year's recommendation we will say: 'We need a certain percentage in the Development Bank in developmental projects that are mainly focused on young people.' We also need diversity in the bank. When you look at the current committee there are no young people and also no women there. In this year's recommendation we are going to say that we want women and young people to be in those structures. Not just old people and men. The bank says that the funds are reserved for infrastructure development. So when you talk about infrastructure development, you have to talk about issues of land."

Matlala's comments here reveal the potential for Brics Youth to position itself as a progressive tendency within the bloc. However, the official documents drawn up at the various Brics Youth forums are far more diplomatic.

Brics Youth demands in 2018 are packaged for state-level consumption in the form of mild "policy recommendations" that mostly concern petit bourgeois interests such as knowledge sharing for youth entrepreneurship, university exchanges and easing visa requirements between the five nations.
On the other hand, they do demand gender and age diversity in structures such as the New Development Bank, but without a strategy to ensure change in the material conditions of poor youth in Brics countries.

In South Africa, the bank has disappointed youth in South Durban given that its only borrower so far, Transnet, will be expanding the port with a $200-million loan in a manner that entails environmental damage and job destruction, given the rapid automation processes in shipping and container handling.

Meanwhile, immediate youth concerns such as access to land, free education, decent work and combating climate change are significantly watered down in Brics Youth documentation.
In South Africa, youth demands for free education, decent work, gender equity, environmental protection, healthcare, housing, affordable municipal services and land redistribution have been placed firmly on the national agenda over the past two decades, after hundreds of service delivery protests drew society's attention to unaffordable or inaccessible water, sanitation and electricity.
Progress has been achieved, not by a top-down approach from government, nor from having government's ear in various elite political forums, but thanks to daily struggles waged by thousands of young people in communities, in workplaces and at universities — struggles that have consistently been met with the full might of the state.

The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall struggles are victories also linked to oppressed people's broader identity, to the need to transform neocolonial capitalist power relations, and to the interests of casualised outsourced university workers who won insourcing in 2015 thanks to student support — none of which appear in Brics Youth programming.

The Brics Youth strategy of putting forward watered-down policy recommendations reflects a theoretically naive understanding of how progressive change is achieved. If the South African delegates in Brics Youth sincerely believe in the need to address the type of issues that Matlala raises, then they would do well to draw lessons on political strategy from those young people organising on the ground.

The greater concern, however, is that the Brics Youth programme may represent a mere tick-box exercise that can be used by the Brics leadership to claim that they have "engaged all role players".
Most recently, box-ticking took the form of an event promoting Brics and Brics Youth that was held at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on May 18. The Brics Youth Dialogue was co-hosted by the ANC Youth League and the South African Student Congress Organisation-led student representative council in conjunction with the department of energy and the department of international relations.

Yet disillusioned comments of student leaders after the event reflect the empty nature of the participatory process: "Dialogue was more a monologue for those people [Brics representatives] to tell us [students] that they are hosting the summit in South Africa. I am not sure we really raised our thoughts and ideas because the session did not allow much."

Another student leader put it more bluntly: "Brics represents the true reflection of capitalism in Africa. It is a tactic to steal state resources.

What have we achieved since the inception of the alliance? Where is the evidence? These people are just playing with South African people. The worst scenario is that, hypothetically, even if we were to benefit from trading with Brics countries, show me South Africans who have shops in Russia or China, but look around South Africa, on every corner is a Chinese enterprise. It is already causing lots of rigidity with locals. Wake up, Africa."

Whereas in past decades, youth would leave school with some hope of employment at labour-intensive manufacturing employers in the major cities, since the mid-1990s many industries were closed because of the import of either capital-intensive machinery or, more commonly, cheaper East Asian products.

Xenophobia among the youth is also a danger, given that there are many African township retail shops run by immigrants from the African continent and Asia, whose pricing advantage from bulk buying undercuts the local spaza shops. The potential for generating international solidarity with Chinese and Indian communities, given cut-throat township capitalism, is dim.

The opinions of the Brics Youth Dialogue participants demonstrate the issues that arise from the Brics role in promoting collective development in South Africa. The dialogue doesn't really help to inform students or to involve them.

These forms of Brics engagement appear to be very ritualistic. There was no real content because there is no dialogue, only the sharing of mostly irrelevant information. As one student leader put it: "Brics representatives [are] not speaking the same language as young people. For South African youth we are only concerned about job security, skills development … The Brics Youth is not useful to [our] struggle."

The Brics Youth Energy Dialogue and Brics Youth as participatory mechanisms do not seem to be able to capture the voices of youth in Brics countries. Reflecting the bias, a June 22 Brics Youth event, also to be held at UWC, is advertised as having a "business casual" dress code. No other Brics Youth activities in South Africa are discernible on Twitter in the run-up to the Brics heads-of-state summit.

Despite the catchy Brics Youth slogan "nothing about us, without us" and President Cyril Ramaphosa conceding that "our most grave and pressing challenge is youth unemployment" in his February State of the Nation address, it is an inescapable reality that Brics Youth is set up and run by government, and reflects government priorities — not the priorities and activism of the youth.

If the Brics Youth network develops a radical public image in order to secure its position as a progressive tendency within the bloc, yet continues to make mild-mannered policy proposals and support intellectually empty youth dialogues, it will simply fulfil the function of a political buffer between the collective leadership of the Brics and young people in member countries.

Njabulo Maphumulo is a postgraduate government student at the University of the Western Cape and Lynford Dor works at the Casual Workers Advice Office in Johannesburg
BRICS Institute Supports Economic Convergence through Leadership, Governance and Market Intelligence (Институт БРИКС поддерживает экономическую конвергенцию посредством лидерства, управления и рыночной разведки) / South Africa, June, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, economic_challenges
South Africa

Effective leadership, governance and market intelligence are key components for establishing economic convergence between the BRICS countries. Brazil, China, Russia, India and South Africa represent 23.6% of the world's economy in 2017, and over 40% of the world's population. This was the focus of discussion at the recent launch of the BRICS institute. The BRICS Institute was launched on the evening of 14 June 2018 in Sandton. The launch included a Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony for Professor Mervyn King. The award honors an individual's longevity and contribution towards leadership, development and vision of a better world.

Economic convergence within the BRICS members is a way to develop South Africa's competitive advantage, its abundance of natural resources and increased focus on financial services. South Africa needs to bring in technologies to maximise the value of the raw materials and increase manufacturing and finished product output.

Approximately 150 guests attended the launch from a variety of organisations in South Africa. Mr. Vivian William, founding director of Regenesys Business School, chaired the event. Dr. Marko Saravanja, chairman of Regenesys Business School, presented the lifetime award to Professor King, after which he delivered a short presentation on leadership and ethics. Professor King's presentation was followed by a short address delivered by Dr Julian Naidoo, Director of the BRICS Institute. Mr. Philip Mbanyana, Director: Office of the Deputy Minister, Department of Trade and Industry concluded the speeches for the evening.

According to Professor Mervyn King good faith, cared skill and diligence are important elements of leadership as seen over the centuries though the stages of industrial development. How companies make profit should be based on ethical considerations. King further emphasized the importance of sustainable development, trust, image and business quality. During his speech King highlighted the three critical dimensions for sustainable development: economy, society and the environment. He explained that acting in the best interest of the company requires from leaders to do away with self-interest and self-concern and focus on leadership capacity and accountability. Leaders should focus on the long-term health of the company, integrated thinking and transparency. King concluded his talk by saying corporate governance is a journey, not a destination.

Dr. Julian Naidoo, Director of the BRICS Institute mentioned that the programme will unlock economic potential between the BRICS countries and will make it possible for interested parties to visit other member states. Naidoo mentioned the importance of driving commerciality to something more practical. He emphasized serious convergence between BRICS countries in order to accelerate development. It is important to gain sector based market intelligence, shared for mutual benefit, in order to do business in the BRICS countries. Intensive sector information is required to drive economic development. Naidoo is convinced that the BRICS programme will ensure that participants keep up with the 4th industrial revolution, cutting edge technologies and exploring the future through advanced learning.

For more information on the BRICS Institute and on how to join the programme please visit
BRICS countries join hands to fight TB (Страны БРИКС объединились для борьбы с туберкулезом) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, top_level_meeting
South Africa

The third Brazil Russia India China South Africa (BRICS) TB Research Network has set its sights on joining hands to combat tuberculosis among the BRICS countries.

"We want BRICS to take the lead in a process that will contribute to the elimination of TB by investing in health care innovation, drug discovery and development," says Health Department Director General Precious Matsoso.

Matsoso was speaking at the BRIC TB Research Network meeting that took place in Johannesburg on Friday.

The BRICS TB Research Network was established to develop robust research into new tools, diagnostics, vaccines and drugs and to inform and accelerate the best use of existing and new interventions in TB control and prevention.

The meeting is part of the multi-country vision to accelerate research and innovation in TB through the BRICS cooperation mechanisms.

"Collaborating on such platforms is how the South Africa can strengthen our efforts to end TB" said Barry Kistnasamy.

This is a preparatory meeting in advance of the forthcoming BRICS Ministers of Health meeting scheduled to take place from 18 - 20 July 2018 in Durban.

The Network is set against the backdrop of TB epidemic where in 2016, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases globally, with BRICS accounting for about 40% of the global TB disease burden and mortality, and at least 50% of the global multidrug resistant TB cases. –

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