Zuma clarifies Africa and global vision at BRICS summit

Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Cape Town: South African President Jacob Zuma has reminded the global south countries that they are responsible for increasing their role in agenda setting and rule formulation in relevant fora, notably in the United Nations.

Zuma was addressing the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries in the southeastern city of Xiamen as part of the 9th Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa (BRICS) held earlier this month.

“In its current state, the United Nations has been unable to curb unilateral actions by powerful nations. These practices risk the reversal of gains made by the collective and we must continue to address its inherent biases.”

Zuma further called for stronger solidarity and cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developments.

He said that addressing common development challenges was integral to building a better future for all humankind.

“Cross fertilisation, the exchange of ideas, joint projects and skills training can go a long way towards promoting economic development and social progress for all,” said Zuma.

On the African continent, Zuma remarked that countries are implementing the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 of the African Union in an integrated manner in order to secure and utilise natural resources sustainably.

However, Zuma added that revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development can only be fully achieved if supported by the concrete policies and actions outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development which the Zuma says is the integral part of the 2030 Agenda.

“The means of implementation is fundamental to the success of countries meeting their developmental needs, and achieving the SDGs, yet it is the one area that has received neither the appropriate attention, nor the requisite priority.”

President Zuma was hopeful that the New Development Bank (NDB) would help financing.

Adding that the recently launched Africa Regional Centre is a welcomed signal of an intensifying partnership for development.

“The New Development Bank is supporting its founding members. Hopefully soon, it will also support our partners through providing development financing for infrastructure and sustainable development projects.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of the five emerging market BRICS powers have for the first time named militant groups allegedly based in Pakistan as a regional security concern and called for their patrons to be held to account.

India welcomed the move, which participated at a summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen, as an important step forward in the fight against militant attacks.

BRICS also called for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan.

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS…Al Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eas­tern Turkistan Islamic Move­ment, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohammad, TTP and Hizbut Tahrir,” the leaders said in the declaration.

In the 43-page declaration, Xi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Michel Temer and South African President Jacob Zuma said they would work together to improve global economic governance to foster “a more just and equitable international order”.

The BRICS called for “comprehensive reform” of the United Nations and the UN Security Council “with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges”.

The five also pledged their opposition to protectionism, a theme increasingly taken up by host Chinese President Xi Jinping as anti-globalisation sentiment in the West poses a threat to China’s vast export markets.

Indian foreign ministry official Preeti Saran told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that wording in the communiqué was a “very important development” and that there was recognition that the world cannot have double standards when dealing with militant attacks.

“You cannot have good and bad terrorists, and it is a collective action. Members of the BRICS countries have themselves been victims of terrorism, and I would say that what has come of today acknowledges the fact that we must work collectively in handling this [terrorism],” she said.

India’s media said naming the allegedly Pakistan-based groups in the BRICS resolution was an important win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration which at last year’s summit called Pakistan the “mother ship of terrorism”.

China has generally been supportive of its ally Pakistan in the past and has repeatedly blocked India’s attempt to get the head of Jaish-i-Mohammad added to a UN blacklist of groups linked to Al Qaeda.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan on the BRICS resolution.

In other developments from the summit, Modi asked BRICS to team up with the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which, he said, “brings together a coalition of 121 countries for mutual gains through enhanced solar energy utilisation. BRICS countries can work closely with ISA to strengthen the solar energy agenda”.

“Our five countries have complementary skills and strengths to promote use of renewable and solar energy. The New Development Bank (NDB, established by the BRICS nations) can also establish an effective link with ISA to support such cooperation. We would wish to see more clean energy funding, particularly in solar energy, from the NDB,” Modi said.

“While trade and economy have been the foundation of our cooperation, our endeavours today touch diverse areas of technology, tradition, culture, agriculture, environment, energy, sports, and ICT. The NDB has started disbursing loans in pursuit of its mandate to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development in BRICS countries. At the same time, our central banks have taken steps to make the Contingent Reserve Arrangement fully operational,” Modi added.