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Media gathered at the Presidential guesthouse were more interested in the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) where 13 South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded during fierce fighting with the Seleka coalition of rebels seeking to unseat the government there.
The president said that one South African soldier – part of a 200-strong force dispatched to help the military – remains missing after rebels seized the CAR capital Bangui.
Moving on to the topic of the upcoming BRICS Summit beginning tomorrow in Durban, Zuma said that ever since the bloc was established, intra-trade and bilateral trade has grown.
“It’s a serious grouping; Brics is not a talk show,” said Zuma.
South Africa will chair the group for 12 months after Durban and then hand over to Brazil.
“We are now ready to launch it,” he said putting a lot of speculation to rest about the much debated and much talked about BRICS Development Bank.
Emphasising that BRICS mean business, he said: “We are able to discuss things and take decisions. If, for example, we talk about the eminent establishment of a development bank, we discussed this a while ago and immediately charged our finance ministers to work on a modality.”
The African Union has been invited to be an observer at this year’s Summit.
President Zuma has repeatedly emphasised the growing ties between BRICS and the continent. A South African government minister echoed the same sentiment.
“Brics members have helped Africa to “escape the clutches of neo-colonial dependence on foreign aid,” Blade Nzimande said at a BRICS academic forum earlier this month,
Media attention tomorrow will likely shift to Durban, which was busy receiving high profile guests for the BRICS Business Council meet tomorrow and the Summit the day after.
Daria Chernyshova for The BRICS POST