Its membership of Brics (with Brazil, Russia, India and China) should be able to strengthen its hand in Africa so long as it maintains its leadership position, South African Institute of International Affairs CE Elizabeth Sidiropoulos argues in the Human Sciences Research Council’s annual State of the Nation report.
“South Africa will have to play an even greater role in underwriting the stability and prosperity of its own neighbourhood,” she writes in her chapter, “South Africa and the Brics in a multilateral, multipolar world”.
By far the group’s smallest country, in terms of both economic and demographic size, South Africa has had to justify its inclusion in a club whose two leaders, China and Russia, are giants, nuclear powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
President Jacob Zuma hosted the group’s annual summit in Durban last year. The African branch of the planned Brics development bank will be based in Johannesburg, the Brics summit decided this year.
When South Africa joined the group in December 2010, many commentators noted that it was hardly in the same league — it had a smaller economy and population than its fellow members. But its inclusion brought the group representation from all the developing-world continents (Latin America, Asia and Africa).