President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended gratitude to all South Africans for the warm welcome and courtesy extended to the massive number of foreign delegates who arrived in the country last month for the 15th BRICS summit hosted at Sandton.
The summit was attended by high-level delegations, including heads of State or ministers representing the five BRICS member countries, along with representatives of 61 other countries. Forty-six of the countries that attended were from the African continent Africa.
“This included 20 heads of state and government. We were also honoured by the attendance of the United Nations Secretary-General Mr Antonio Guterres. I want to thank the people of South Africa for welcoming these guests from across the African continent and the world,” said Ramaphosa in a televised address to the nation on Sunday night.
He said delegations from some countries consisted of up to 600 people.
“All our visitors were warmly received and were able to experience the best of South African hospitality. We thank the many people involved in organising the summit events, including the Deputy President (Paul Mashatile), our ministers, officials, law enforcement agencies and our security services, who ensured that the summit proceeded without incident.
“We thank all the staff at airports and border posts, those who worked through the night to set up the venues, protocol officers and ushers, food and beverage staff at our various hotels and guest houses, volunteers, sponsors and partners, musicians and artists, drivers and messengers,” he said.
The president said the government’s international work cannot be separated from local efforts to end poverty, to create jobs and to reduce inequality in South Africa.
“Through stronger investment and trade relations with other countries, we are able to grow our economy, create more opportunities for new businesses and reduce unemployment. By supporting peace and stability on our continent, and by promoting Africa’s development, we are able to improve social cohesion in our own country.
“By encouraging greater cooperation between countries in areas such as investment, financing for development, international crime, fighting terrorism, climate change and vaccine production, we are able to strengthen our efforts to tackle these challenges in our own country,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the BRICS Summit made several decisions to take forward the struggle for a fairer and more inclusive world order that is focused on the equal development of all people.
“One of the key decisions taken by the BRICS member countries was to support the call for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more democratic, representative, effective and efficient. The summit said that there should be greater representation of developing economy countries in the UN Security Council’s membership,” he said.
“This is so that countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, including Brazil, India and South Africa, can play a greater role in international affairs. This was a most significant decision in view of the fact that it was supported by two BRICS members who are permanent members of the UN Security Council.”
The other significant outcome of the summit, according to Ramaphosa, was the decision to expand the membership of BRICS to include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
“BRICS leaders agreed that the value of BRICS extends beyond the interests of its current members. They agreed that BRICS could be more effective and have a greater impact by building partnerships with other countries that share its aspirations and perspectives. Through an expanded BRICS, we will be able to better align the voices of those countries that seek a fairer global governance, financial, investment and trading system based on clear rules that apply equally to all countries,” said Ramaphosa.
“An expanded BRICS also means that we will be able to export more of our products to major markets and, as a result, we will be able to produce more and create more jobs. While an expanded BRICS will be an important champion for the Global South, South Africa stands to benefit from its relationship with these countries.”
Together, these countries make up nearly a third of the global economy and are together home to 46 percent of the world’s population.
Already, Ramaphosa said South Africa has achieved “great benefit” from our relations with Brazil, Russia, India and China.
“These countries are important destinations for South Africa’s products and services. They are important sources of investment and are becoming even more important as tourism markets. These economic ties have been strengthened by the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, both of whom presented encouraging reports on their work,” he said.
The summit also decided that the finance ministers or central bank governors of BRICS countries, as appropriate, should consider the use of our various countries’ local currencies, payment instruments and platforms in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS and their respective trading partners. They are expected to report back at the next summit.