What do we really get from our Brics membership? Not much!


What do we really get from our Brics membership? Not much!

President Cyril Ramaphosa should be asking himself whether Jacob Zuma's decision to join Brics in 2010 was the right one

Cape Town bureau chief

Excitement is building ahead of the Brics summit in Johannesburg in July. Yeah, right.
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of South Africans who care.
And one of the questions President Cyril Ramaphosa should be asking himself is whether his predecessor’s decision to join this dubious club in 2010 was the right one.
We know it has been costly. South Africa’s seed capital for the New Development Bank alone was $10-billion. Getting that back would make a handy R118-billion contribution to the cash-strapped fiscus.And so far the bank has been much more useful to Brics’s heavy-hitters than it has to us. South Africa has been loaned $180-million, but China has received five times as much and India more than $1-billion.We also know that Brics membership hasn’t benefited us much economically. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told parliament this month that South Africa accounted for just 5% of intra-Brics trade and 4.1% of intra-Brics investment. Would any or all of that evaporate if we stepped away? Doubtful.
Having just dumped a dodgy president of our own, the quality of the Brics leaders we’ll be hosting in Johannesburg in July should also give us pause for thought.
Vladimir Putin of Russia is accused of interfering in US elections and assassinating a retired spy on British soil. Xi Jinping of China has revived the era of the personality cult. And the administration of Michel Temer of Brazil has been dogged by corruption scandals.Narendra Modi of India is probably the fellows Brics leader Ramaphosa will feel most comfortable breaking bread with, but we all know how a certain Indian family have royally screwed us in the last few years.
What about solidarity among developing nations? According to Engineering News, none of the Brics leaders was among the first five from around the world to call and congratulate Ramaphosa after he took over as president.Could this be because now that South Africa has a president with clean hands, they’ve lost interest?
The truth is that Brics is an entirely artificial construct in which South Africa is an insignificant player.
As an economic field of play, Africa makes a lot more sense. Ramaphosa should be looking north, rather than east and west, for allies in building sustainable partnerships and prosperity.

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