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BRICS Summit in SA: insights and expectations

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
21 August 2023 | 12:50pm SAST
3-min read

Picture: Radio Islam International

As the highly anticipated BRICS Summit gets underway in South Africa this week, experts and analysts are examining the key issues and potential benefits associated with this global event. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) Summit brings together leaders from these major emerging economies to discuss various topics of mutual interest. While notable figures such as the Chinese president, Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Narendra Modi of India are scheduled to attend in person, Russian President Putin’s participation will be via videoconference due to other commitments.

To delve into the significance of the event and its potential implications, Radio Islam International hosted two experts for a comprehensive discussion. Lumkile Mondi, senior economics lecturer at WITS, and political scientist Roland Henwood provided insights into the major themes and key points of interest surrounding the summit.

Roland Henwood highlighted the significance of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent speech, which aimed to address South Africa’s position not only within BRICS but also on the global stage. The speech emphasised that South Africa is not aligning itself against any specific nation within BRICS and seeks to foster cooperation without picking sides, a crucial point given past debates around the country’s stance.

From an economic perspective, Lumkile Mondi emphasised the opportunities that BRICS membership offers to South Africa. With the inclusion of new members from emerging markets, particularly in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, South Africa has the chance to expand its exports beyond its historical trade partners in Europe, America, and China. The summit also provides an avenue for cultural, educational, and technological exchanges, enriching South Africans’ exposure and understanding of other cultures.

With the summit now underway, the experts identified key areas of focus, notably the enlargement of BRICS. This includes discussions on allowing new member countries to join and defining guidelines for their inclusion. The geopolitical backdrop, particularly Russia’s role in ongoing conflicts, is expected to influence these discussions. Additionally, China’s growing influence and its long-term objectives in global politics are important themes to watch.

Both experts addressed China’s role within BRICS and its potential to assert itself as a significant global power. They discussed differing interpretations of China’s intentions, ranging from creating alternative opportunities to potentially becoming a dominant player in global politics. The issue of China’s currency, the yuan, was also raised, with calls for China to assert itself as a global power by establishing the yuan as a third currency for international trade.

In terms of immediate benefits, the experts acknowledged the potential for increased tourism and economic activity associated with hosting the summit. However, they also highlighted the longer-term benefits, such as cultural, educational, and technological exchanges that could enrich the lives of ordinary South Africans. The summit provides opportunities for the country to engage with diverse cultures and broaden its horizons.

Hosting the BRICS Summit carries diplomatic significance for South Africa, allowing the country to showcase its engagement on the global stage. Henwood emphasised the importance of clear messaging to ensure that South Africa’s stance within BRICS is well understood and that the benefits of hosting the summit eventually materialise. The experts noted that South Africa’s international standing can benefit from this event, but messaging and strategic decisions are crucial in ensuring positive outcomes.

As the BRICS Summit continues, all eyes are on the discussions, agreements, and potential shifts in global dynamics that may emerge from this gathering of major emerging economies. With an emphasis on cooperation, economic opportunities, and diplomatic engagement, the summit holds the promise of shaping the future trajectory of participating nations.

The Radio Islam International team will be providing live coverage of the BRICS Summit, delivering updates on-air and across various social media platforms throughout the duration of the event.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaiman Ravat here.

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