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“South Africa can lobby the group to base a planned development bank on the continent, which would be impossible with Western partners,” Zuma said in an interview to CNBC Africa.
The BRICS bloc of emerging economies will set up its development bank with a total capital of $100 billion within five years.
BRICS makes a total of 18 per cent of the world’s GDP and 40 per cent of currency reserves, which are estimated at around a trillion dollars.
China, Zuma said on Thursday, is unlike former Western colonial powers “who still act like Africa’s master”.
Critics of Chinese investment in Africa have said the Asian giant harbours neo-colonial intentions. Zuma on Thursday refuted such allegations.
“We welcome foreign direct investment (FDI), we are not discriminating…We’ve taken money from Germany, the U.K. the United States – why was it not a story, why is it a story when the Chinese do so?” Zuma said.
“The countries that have been dealing with us before, particularly old economies, they’ve dealt with us as former subjects, as former colonial subjects,” Zuma said.
“The Chinese don’t deal with us from that point of view. They deal with us as people that you must do business (with), at an equal level so to speak. It’s not the Chinese only, there are many other countries,” Zuma said. “China has come to do business, not to try to tell you what to do, what not to do. Others do.”
“Part of the reason Africa, as much as it (was) decolonized many years ago, has never developed is because the relationships are not equal,” Zuma said.
The President also questioned the negative narrative on South Africa in recent times.
“Beyond the headlines, there is the real story of South Africa. This is what we need to be doing in order to convey that message effectively to foreign direct investors,” he said.
China has become Africa’s largest trade partner, and Africa is now China’s major import source, second largest overseas construction project contract market and fourth largest investment destination.
In 2009, China became Africa’s No. 1 trade partner. In the following two years, the scale of China-Africa trade expanded rapidly.
In 2012, the total volume of China-Africa trade reached $198.49 billion, with a year-on-year growth of 19.3 per cent, according to official statistics.