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Reviewing South Africa’s trembling leadership in light of its BRICS’s role


Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the individual author. All rights are reserved to the original authors of the materials consulted, which are identified in the footnotes below.


This article is Volume 1 of BRICS in Africa and reviews South Africa's leadership with regard to its BRICS's role in representing voices of the African Union.






Despite social debates on who the leading actor is within the African Union it has now become a fact that South Africa plays a major leadership role for the Africa Continent on the Global stage, with its growing GDP, positive progression of foreign investment, recognition of broad international relations [1]. But the same progression cannot be said for the overall BRICS relations [2].


It has been 13 years since the establishment of BRICS but international and trade relations between all 5 countries have not been sufficiently improved or effectively captured to combat the manifesting challenges of the 4th industrial revolution and brooding political world dysfunction[3].


BRICS leaders[4] have spent a little over a decade in meetings and back to back conferences with bare minimum results[5] to show for its policy development[6] of which South Africa is no stranger to this shortfall evidenced by its governance and chair-ship.


Reviewing South Africa’s 2018 BRICS Presidency


South Africa’s 2018 chair-ship of the BRICS summit, under the theme of Inclusive Development through a Socially Responsive Economy[7], aimed to enhance the Africa continent and Global South agendas committed to its objective of better global governance and economic reform[8].


Although the 2018 BRICS summit marked the growth of the NDB, which provides an optimistic view of what an alternative financial architecture could represent; and the BRICS outreach also took on an innovative form, inviting heads of regional integration groups of developing countries such as the G20, NAASP, MERCOSUR, ASEAN, G77+China, CARICOM and OIC [9], emphasizing the potential of BRICS to strategically navigate the geopolitical landscape. The strategy is still milestones away from being inclusive and realistically sustainable with many resource challenges common within developing countries[10].


As the BRICS-Africa engagement continues to build on trade and investment relations, the pressure for greater needs to streamline efforts into integrating an African agenda based on sustainable development and infrastructure also accelerates. South Africa is placed at the centre to provide an informative dialogue for the African Union in cultivating the BRICS footprints but since venal efforts presented by South Africa in hopes to work towards maximizing the AU’s agendas didn’t receive progressive development and positive results, it has left their African brothers and sisters relatively unconfident[11].


South Africa’s Challenges in 2019


South Africa’s international relations strategy pivots on its commitments to Africa, which has experienced significant changes in the geopolitical landscape, South-South cooperation [12], North-South relations and other global engagements.


The road to the 2019 national elections signified an ambivalent potential or pressure on national strategy and foreign policy commitments. All commitments carry an interrelated resonance in the conduct of statecraft, which have immediate bearings on South Africa’s role in Africa and beyond [13].


In addition, global trends of increased populist discourse, navigating regional and continental integration, protectionism and tepid global economic growth, an unprecedented evolution in the 4th industrial revolution and growing concern for environmental sustainability and greater shifts towards multi-polarity and the renegotiation of relations, in general all have comparative impact on the countries development [14].


President Cyril Ramaphosa election as President in South Africa’s 6th democratic elections, held in May 2019, cemented the trend to pursue economic diplomacy as a South African foreign policy strategy[15].

However, the country continues to face significant internal difficulties; from internal leadership challenges in the African National Congress, a general economic slump, rising tensions surrounding the land reform policies and legacies of structural inequality, these all have immediate bearings on South Africa’s ability to cooperate with Africa and beyond[16]. These dynamics have been made more problematic because of the recent spate of violent attacks on foreign nationals from the African continent, making South Africa’s forthcoming African Union Chair-ship even more important and simultaneously more challenging[17].


The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Morocco, Sudan, the Horn of Africa, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present interesting agenda items for South Africa while its second year as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and its ascendancy to the African Union (AU) chair in 2020 provide various opportunities and challenges[18].


The actors have a unique geopolitical positioning and role, which continuously develops, how will South Africa maximize its participation in the African Agenda [19] and South-South cooperation in order to have a strategic impact in the continent and the global South? This volume will continue to explore some key areas for South African participation: SADC, BRICS, other emerging powers and the upcoming Russia-Africa Summit [20] .


To be continued in volume 2: How will South Africa’s Africa agenda interlock with other commitments to South-South and trilateral cooperation, the G20 and BRICS Brazil?


Shirley Chan (Africa)


SOURCES

[1] Kahn, Michael. (2011). The BRICs and South Africa as the Gateway to Africa. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 111. 493-496.


[2] Francesca Beausang, Globalization And The Brics Why The Brics Will Not Rule The World For Long (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).


[3] Stephen Kingah and Cintia Quiliconi, Global And Regional Leadership Of BRICS Countries.


[4] Lundvall, B. (2009). BRICS and Development Alternatives: Innovation Systems and Policies (J. Cassiolato & V. Vitorino, Eds.). Anthem Press. doi:10.7135/UPO9781843318149


[5] Francesco Petrone (2019) BRICS, soft power and climate change: new challenges in global governance?, Ethics & Global Politics, 12:2, 19-30, DOI: 10.1080/16544951.2019.1611339


[6] Rich Marino, Submerging Markets The Impact Of Increased Financial Regulations On The Future Growth Rates Of BRICS Countries (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).


[7] CURRENT AFFAIRS, Exam Affairs and Sangeeta Nair, 'BRICS Summit 2018: Johannesburg Declaration Adopted' (Jagranjosh.com, 2019) <https://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/brics-summit-2018-held-1532510234-1> accessed 8 December 2019.


[8] Ramesh Thakur (2014) How representative are brics?, Third World Quarterly, 35:10, 1791-1808, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2014.971594


[9] 'South Africa: Driving The BRICS Agenda | Global Policy Journal' (Globalpolicyjournal.com, 2019) <https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/19/07/2018/south-africa-driving-brics-agenda> accessed 8 December 2019.


[10] Maxi Schoeman (2015) South Africa as an emerging power: from label to ‘status consistency’?, South African Journal of International Affairs, 22:4, 429 445, DOI: 10.1080/10220461.2015.1119719


[11] Ibid


[12] Kevin Gray & Barry K. Gills (2016) South–South cooperation and the rise of the Global South, Third World Quarterly,37:4, 557-574, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1128817


[13] Durokifa Anuoluwapo, Moshood B. Abdul-Wasi & Ijeoma Edwin (2018) South Africa’s Inclusion in BRICS: Challenges and Prospects for Development in Africa, International Journal of African Renaissance Studies - Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, 13:2, 27-41, DOI: 10.1080/18186874.2018.1519373


[14] Deepak Nayyar (2016) BRICS, developing countries and global governance, Third World Quarterly, 37:4, 575-591,DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1116365


[15] 'South Africa Election 2019 - BBC News' (BBC News, 2019) <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c12mp2g1m4gt/south-africa-election-2019> accessed 8 December 2019.


[16] (Rosalux.org.br, 2019) <https://rosalux.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Publicao-Africa-BRICS-EN.pdf> accessed 8 December 2019.


[17] 'Are Attacks On Foreigners Rising In South Africa?' (BBC News, 2019) <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47800718> accessed 8 December 2019.


[18] TRALAC CENTRE, 'African Continental Free Trade Area (Afcfta) Legal Texts And Policy Documents' (tralac, 2019) <https://www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/cfta.html> accessed 8 December 2019.


[19] 'Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. | African Union' (Au.int, 2019) <https://au.int/en/agenda2063/overview> accessed 8 December 2019.


[20] 'What South Africa Will Get Out Of The Brics Summit' (TimesLIVE, 2019) <https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2018-08-02-what-south-africa-will-get-out-of-the-brics-summit/> accessed 8 December 2019.


Bibliography


Books


Francesca Beausang, Globalization And The Brics Why The Brics Will Not Rule The World For Long (Palgrave Macmillan 2012).


Stephen Kingah and Cintia Quiliconi, Global And Regional Leadership Of BRICS Countries. (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).


Rich Marino, Submerging Markets The Impact Of Increased Financial Regulations On The Future Growth Rates Of BRICS Countries (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).


Journals


Durokifa Anuoluwapo, Moshood B. Abdul-Wasi & Ijeoma Edwin (2018) South Africa’s Inclusion in BRICS: Challenges and Prospects for Development in

Africa, International Journal of African Renaissance Studies - Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, 13:2, 27-41, DOI: 10.1080/18186874.2018.1519373


Deepak Nayyar (2016) BRICS, developing countries and global governance, Third World Quarterly, 37:4, 575-591,DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1116365


Francesco Petrone (2019) BRICS, soft power and climate change: new challenges in global governance?, Ethics & Global Politics, 12:2, 19-30, DOI: 10.1080/16544951.2019.1611339


Kahn, Michael. (2011). The BRICs and South Africa as the Gateway to Africa. Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. 111. 493-496.


Kevin Gray & Barry K. Gills (2016) South–South cooperation and the rise of the Global South, Third World Quarterly,37:4, 557-574, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1128817


Lundvall, B. (2009). BRICS and Development Alternatives: Innovation Systems and Policies (J. Cassiolato & V. Vitorino, Eds.). Anthem Press. doi:10.7135/UPO9781843318149


Maxi Schoeman (2015) South Africa as an emerging power: from label to ‘status consistency’?, South African Journal of International Affairs, 22:4, 429 445, DOI: 10.1080/10220461.2015.1119719


Ramesh Thakur (2014) How representative are brics?, Third World Quarterly, 35:10, 1791-1808, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2014.971594


Websites


'Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. | African Union' (Au.int, 2019) <https://au.int/en/agenda2063/overview> accessed 8 December 2019.

'Are Attacks On Foreigners Rising In South Africa?' (BBC News, 2019) <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47800718> accessed 8 December 2019.


CURRENT AFFAIRS, Exam Affairs and Sangeeta Nair, 'BRICS Summit 2018: Johannesburg Declaration Adopted' (Jagranjosh.com, 2019) <https://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/brics-summit-2018-held-1532510234-1> accessed 8 December 2019.

'South Africa Election 2019 - BBC News' (BBC News, 2019) <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c12mp2g1m4gt/south-africa-election-2019> accessed 8 December 2019.


'South Africa: Driving The BRICS Agenda | Global Policy Journal' (Globalpolicyjournal.com, 2019) <https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/19/07/2018/south-africa-driving-brics-agenda> accessed 8 December 2019.


(Rosalux.org.br, 2019) <https://rosalux.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Publicao-Africa-BRICS-EN.pdf> accessed 8 December 2019.


TRALAC CENTRE, 'African Continental Free Trade Area (Afcfta) Legal Texts And Policy Documents' (tralac, 2019) <https://www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/cfta.html> accessed 8 December 2019.


'What South Africa Will Get Out Of The Brics Summit' (TimesLIVE, 2019) <https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2018-08-02-what-south-africa-will-get-out-of-the-brics-summit/> accessed 8 December 2019.

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