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Speaking on the eve of the Fifth BRICS Summit, South African president Jacob Zuma said: “In 2012, BRICS economies served as a bulwark in the global economy, when most developed economies witnessed sharp slowdowns or negative growth.”
Zuma believes the collective strength of the BRICS economies is therefore a crucial factor in the global economy. “South Africa values its membership of BRICS immensely,” Zuma said.
But for many South Africans on the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa’s inclusion in BRICS means little. Many shrug their shoulders in ignorance, resigning BRICS to another government project that has little impact on the lives of ordinary people.
This, despite South African government hosting a public awareness campaign emphasising the importance of South Africa’s membership of the BRICS and the benefits it may bring.
But those who are paying attention to the BRICS Summit believe it may be some time yet before South Africa’s inclusion actually yields those benefits.
The BRICS Post hit the streets of Johannesburg to find out what the Durban Summit means for the average South African.
Zamatungwa Khumalo, International Relations Student
I think the full effects of BRICS won’t be felt now. We should be able to see the more tangible stuff in five to ten years.
The talks of the development bank and the increased trade are a big deal. I think South Africa needs to be strategic about the deals we’re looking at and what we get into.
If we can get this right, we can strengthen our position as the gateway to Africa.
Aasia Fredricks, Operations Manager
I am happy we’re now included in BRICS. We can leverage the accumulated knowledge of other developing nations and use it to our advantage.
We need to investigate how we lost our way after being one of the front-runners of developing nations.
With the help of nations like Brazil, India and China we can find ways to get us back on track but have to make sure African interests aren’t lost in the willingness to trade.
It should not be at the expense of South Africa.
Mabine Seabe, Youth Activist
From the beginning, a lot of people were very skeptical of our inclusion in BRICS but I guess we’re there now and we have to make the most of it.
We should use the opportunities that come with our inclusion, be it trade or political influence. I don’t think there will be any immediate effects of our inclusion for ordinary South Africans though.
I think it’s going to be a long process.
Let’s see how the BRICS bank is going to work – with the dissatisfaction with the IMF and the World Bank and the BRICS bank is supposed to be serving developing nations instead.
There are definite benefits for South Africa.
Tabassum Koor, Clerk
I did not know about the BRICS summit and I didn’t even know BRICS existed until just now.
I’m still not 100 per cent sure what BRICS is, so it could be good for us.
But if it is about emerging economies working together more closely, I would think that we’d be able to help each other.
I think it could help with creating jobs.
At the end of the day we are all still developing countries.
Mukelwa Hlatshwayo, Freelance Journalist
If the main goal of BRICS is greater economic co-operation, will South Africa be able to make the most of this relationship, or will the other BRICS partners just be extracting resources from us?
My main concern is whether we are equal partners with the other BRICS nations.
Other partnerships like these, other bodies that South Africa has joined in the past have not brought economic development to South Africa.
Only time will tell.