Johannesburg - Outgoing chairman of the Brics Business Council, Dr Iqbal Survé, on Wednesday described his tenure at the helm of the business establishment of the world's five fastest-growing emerging economies as one that was challenging yet highly rewarding.
Survé recalled how difficult and tough it was to form the Brics Business Council back in 2013 as country representatives were not buying into the idea, and how he and his fellow members had to convince other business people that the council was for all their benefit after the Indian delegation walked out of the formation meeting, followed by the Chinese delegation.
"It was a challenge getting people to work together. I remember kicking one of my colleagues under the table and telling him that we have to allow people to tell us and say what they wanted to do. And that is how we saved the Business Council," Survé said.
"I'm very proud to be passing the baton to the new council which will continue doing our people and our continent proud. What we have been doing was all in service for our people without expecting anything in return," Survé said.
Survé was speaking at a glitzy gala dinner in Johannesburg where the successes of the Brics Business Council for its five years' work since its establishment in 2013 were established.
Members, chairpersons, and the secretariat of all nine working groups in the council were present for the commemorative book launch, including Lerato Mataboge from the Department of Trade and Industry, former Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama, Fedusa secretary general Dennis George, Black Business Council's president Sandile Zungu, Aspen Pharmacare's Stavros Nicolaou, and many others.
In describing how under-developed countries in the "global south" continued to be marginalised in the world's mainstream economy, Survé said that the establishment of Brics had been part of a decade-long struggle for equal participation and equal opportunity at the table for the global economic pie.
"Brics represented an opportunity for us to continue the fight for our people to have the largest say in world matters. We have never seen ourselves as junior partners in Brics, but equal partners," Survé said.
Jessie Duarte, deputy general-secretary of the ANC, said that the South African ruling party was pleased to have seen the formation of the Council and that the South African ruling party was already reaping fruits of the mutually beneficial relationship the country has with Brics members.
"Brics is all about the fact that the world economy has been dominated by the western countries, and we have the opportunity to shift that and redirect resources of Africa to what the Chinese call "a new road to the world". The ANC believes in deepening communication and driving cooperation among and between businesses," Duarte said.
Chinese Ambassador to Pretoria, Li Songtian, said that Brics has established a new partnership, instead of allies, among member countries, adding that China was eager and interested to continue its investment into Africa.
Songtian said Brics was about concrete benefit for all member states, and that Chinese investment into Africa would equal around U.S.$170 billion in the next five years.