Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2L), Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff (C), Chinese President Xi Jinping (2R) and South African President Jacob Zuma (R) during a meeting of the BRICS Leaders' prior to the G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane in 2014. Picture: ALEXEI DRUZHININ / RIA NOVOSTI / KREMLIN POOL

Pretoria – The long-awaited $50 billion Brics development bank is to be launched in Russia next week at the forum’s 7th summit, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Nkoana-Mashabane confirmed on Friday.

Nkoana-Mashabane said at a press conference in Pretoria that the board of governors of the New Development Bank, as it is to be called – including a South African – would hold its first meeting on Tuesday in the Russian city of Ufa. That would be the day before the summit of the Brics leaders.

Brics is the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa forum. President Jacob Zuma would attend the forum, the minister said. He will join President Vladmir Putin, the Russian President, who will host the summit,

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

During Friday’s press conference, Nkoana-Mashabane said it was now time for South Africans to “Feel It!” as they had eventually got around to “Feeling It” just before the Fifa World Cup in 2010.

“We are no longer knocking on the door,” she said. “We have been given the right to nominate a member to the Board of Governors.”

Nkoana-Mashabane said the summit would confirm the names of the president and vice-president of the development bank. And the leaders were expected to ratify the procedural rules and operational guidelines of the governing council and standing committee of the Brics Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) and to conclude an Inter-Central Bank Agreement.

The CRA will be a mechanism through which the 5 Brics member states will provide each other with back up financing if they face balance of payments problems. It will serve essentially the same purpose as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Likewise, the Brics development bank will serve the same purpose as the World Bank.

The Brics governments decided to establish the development bank and the CRA partly in response to their belief that the US and European Union refused to give up their historical control of the World Bank and IMF.

Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Brics summit leaders would also inform each other of the status of the ratification process within each of their countries of the New Development Bank agreement and the CRA treaty.

She said South Africa’s two houses of Parliament had ratified these instruments last month.

There will also be a series of related meetings on the margins of the Brics summit, including meetings of the Brics Business Council and of the Brics ministers of finance and central bank governors.

The minister said the Brics leaders would also meet the eleven leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which will also be meeting in Ufa.

The full members of the SCO, essentially a vehicle for security cooperation, are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The full members of the EEU are Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia.

Nkoana-Mashabane would not say, in answer to a question, whether it was time for South Africa and other African states, to tell Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza directly and unambiguously, that he should not run for a third term as president.

He is planning to do so on July 15 despite the Arusha accord and Burundi’s constitution both containing two-term limits. But the minister said there was still some uncertainty about how many terms Nkurunziza had actually served, and this was still under discussion among Burundi stakeholders.

And she indicated that South Africa was deferring to the East African Community (EAC), the regional organisation, which is supervising the efforts to resolve the Burundi conflict.

ANA