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SA honours vow to push African economic cause

EWN's Africa Correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the day's top African news.

President Jacob Zuma during a media briefing ahead of the 5th BRICS Summit at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. Picture: Siya Duda/GCIS

DURBAN - South Africa kept its word to the rest of the continent by pushing Africa's economic cause at the fifth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) Summit.

On Wednesday, South Africa's more powerful partners in the young grouping - Brazil, India, Russia and, most importantly, China - gave President Jacob Zuma the diplomatic support he was seeking as continental representative.

In what they called the "eThekwini Declaration", Brics leaders backed calls for infrastructure investment in Africa, voiced support for development agencies, and endorsed regional integration plans.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan stated the Brics nations are indeed committed to the establishment of a development bank, and the infrastructural development of Africa. But he made it clear it would not happen overnight.

Further discussion and a progress report is said to be set to take place on the fringes of the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in St. Petersburg later this year.

By the next annual BRICS Summit, which will take place in Brazil, the development bank is predicted to be well underway.

There will be a safety net of $100 billion. The contributions are going to amount to $50 billion, which equates to about $10 billion each.

As South Africa is the smallest economically, Gordhan confirmed that the country can indeed afford its designated contribution and is committed to the establishment of infrastructural development and the bank.

Additional developing countries are going to be involved and brought into it too.

Most importantly, Gordhan has said the development bank is complementary and not competition to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.



President Bashar al-Assad asks for help from Brics

On Wednesday, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria beseeched the five-nation BRICS group to help halt the Syrian conflict.

This comes one day after the Arab League moved to further isolate Assad by ceremoniously filling his government's vacant seat with the opposition coalition that has sworn to topple him.

In a letter addressed to the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Assad framed his request as a plea for assistance in the fight of good against evil.

He depicted the opposition forces as terrorists bent on destroying Syria with help from a conspiracy of hostile Arab and Western countries.

Assad did not get the help he wanted.

He expected a declaration telling the guerrillas there to make peace.

Effectively, the Brics leaders expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

With 70,000 people dead and four million people displaced, there is justifiable concern, despite human rights organisations enthusiasm about a declaration.