Politicians rock the Cradle during Brics Summit

Naledi Mandisa Pandor, the South African Minister of Higher Education; acting Vice-Chancellor at Wits University, Tawana Kupe, and Director General in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, Phindile Baleni. Photo: Bianca Pindral.

Maropeng, the Official Visitor Centre at The Cradle of Humankind, recently had the honour of hosting parts of the 10th annual Brics Summit, and although many valid points between the participating countries were made, the event was described as a logistical nightmare by stakeholders.

Brics is an acronym made up out of the names of its five member countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Its main purpose is to hold discussions representing various spheres of political and socio-economic coordination, in which member countries have identified several business opportunities, economic complementarities and areas of cooperation.

Traditional ballet dancers entertain the officials at Maropeng during the Brics Summit.
Photo: Bianca Pindral.

On Friday 27 July, problems such as schedule and attendee changes, venue changes, broadcasting sound failures and much more caused the programme to run nearly an hour late and much frustration was expressed by the attendees. And that was just at Maropeng.

In Sandton, where the four presidents and one Deputy President of the Brics countries came together, major traffic disruptions were reported. Also, a satellite glitch prevented the leaders from taking their virtual tour of the Cradle of Humankind.

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, wanted the leaders to tour the Cradle as part of his idea that we have “shared origins and must work towards a common future”. However, because of alleged time constraints, the trip was canceled and it was arranged that the leaders would get to experience the Cradle through a live stream ‘virtual tour’.

Naledi Mandisa Pandor, the South African Minister of Higher Education (far left), Acting Vice-Chancellor at Wits University, Tawana Kupe, Director General in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng, Phindile Baleni and Wits University Professors Bruce Rubidge and Ronald Clarke.
Photo: Bianca Pindral.

All seemed well when the tour started, however, it was cut off. This failure was seen as ironic, in light of the desire that the leaders had to combine their powers to enter the fourth industrial revolution through technology, yet a simple technological glitch kept them from seeing their origins via live streaming.

After the epic fail, the leaders continued with their speeches discussing money, unity and development.

Main points that were discussed:

• Political economy lecturer at Wits University, Patrick Bond, said during an interview with Business Day TV after the summit that the five countries might have a better chance of winning the political trade fight against President Donald Trump – the fight is actually between China and the USA. This is all the more reason for China to stay part of Brics. China is also developing a belt and road expansion strategy – a trade route that would stretch as far west as Italy. The trade route would include North African countries such as Kenya and Tanzania. The project is set to cost US$900 billion.

• Brics’ New Development Bank also announced some of its loans strategies. The South African state-owned utility, Eskom, received a loan of US$2,5 billion (R33 billion) from the China Development Bank. This spells trouble for the already in debt South Africa. Bond explained that it sometimes happens that China lends money to a country and that if they’re unable to make it work or pay them back, China forecloses on a big chunk of land in that country.

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  AUTHOR
Bianca Pindral
Journalist

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