BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good day to you all. It is my pleasure to welcome you to South Africa for the first BRICS Sherpa and Sous-Sherpa meeting of 2023.
How I wish I were with you at Mabula Game Lodge. I’m told that you’ve enjoyed a morning game drive and I trust that the African bush revealed all its many natural wonders to you. I believe that we should take good care of all animals and am fully committed to South Africa’s programmes for the protection of wild animals.
I hope that the lions behaved very well in front of you as senior BRICS diplomats and that if there were any challenge from a lion you were able to mediate that dispute and make sure there is peace in the wild.
Allow me to begin by expressing our deep appreciation for the leadership of China as Chair of BRICS in 2022. It was a challenging year on many fronts. Yet we saw our BRICS partnership overcome differences to provide global leadership, particularly in matters of interest to the global South as these issues are increasingly neglected by our other international partners.
As we Chair BRICS, we do so in a world with hidden fault lines revealing themselves. In fact, as many say, the globe has not been as fragmented as it is today for many, many decades. We face the impact of the pandemic eroding decades of development. We face geopolitical contestation which is very worryingly diverting attention from global challenges that all of us should be collaborating to address. We need to combat the effects of climate change. We need to help the African continent finally silence the guns. These are the challenges of the most desperate in the world. And these are the challenges we should all be addressing.
We hear predictions that say that the economic impacts of the pandemic, of the conflicts we see, and unilateral economic measures will only worsen this year and that we will see deepened social and political consequences. Of course, as BRICs we must find ways of addressing these emerging problems. I believe that not all is doom and gloom.
The Year of the Rabbit is auspicious for our Chairship as it heralds fresh starts, renewed hope and joyful reunions. Renewed hope is something that BRICS can offer to the world, to the international community, particularly the global South. BRICS can provide the leadership necessary to strengthen multilateralism, bring about meaningful reform and can also work together to drive a sustainable global economic recovery that benefits not only us, but the broader global South.
As BRICS we seek to address conflicts through diplomatic means, through negotiations under the auspices of the United Nation with the intent of creating a peaceful and harmonious world focused on cooperation rather than confrontation and conflict.
We intend to build on the momentum of 15 years of BRICS cooperation. Momentum which has seen our partnership evolve and expand its mandate beyond the narrow focus that brought us together and now includes cooperation across the three pillars of political and security, economic and financial, and social and people to people cooperation.
As BRICS, we will also build on our shared commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of our people, of advancing the interests and developmental goals of the global South, and our founding vision of a more just, equitable and fair global political, economic, and financial landscape with increased representation and voice.
The significant interest in joining BRICS by many is a clear sign that BRICS has remained true to its values of strengthening multilateralism, driving reform as well as boosting global economic growth and stability. And it would appear that these characteristics are of great attractiveness to many nations in different parts of the world.
This is what led to our conclusion as the Cabinet of South Africa that our theme for 2023, would most appropriately be: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism”.
Our theme and priorities reflect our foreign policy focus on advancing in partnership with others. We cannot leave the African continent and the global South behind. We intend to continue our outreach to the continent and leading members of the global South.
We look forward to welcoming you once more to South Africa for the 15th BRICS Summit from 22-24 August 2023. We will celebrate 10 years of the BRICS Business Council and BRICS Think Tanks Council. They have both added significant value to our partnership and have much more to offer us in aligning our policies and cooperation to the needs of our people, to communities and to businesses.
I thank you for the messages of support I have received from all of your countries as Chair. Over the next days, our officials will expand on their plans for 2023. We aim to not only hold the traditional meetings but will explore pragmatic ways to deliver tangible results on key BRICS priorities. We plan to work together with you to strengthen our proposals and bring them to fruition for mutual benefit.
As we move proceed together, I wish to convey my sincere appreciation for the commitment and effort of our Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas. You are the engine that drives our BRICS cooperation. The spirit of solidarity, respect and friendship that clearly prevails in your meetings lays a solid foundation for our cooperation at the political level and it allows our cooperation to stand the test of time and holds us together when the storms inevitably pass by.
Allow me to conclude by once more wishing you well in your deliberations which, I am confident, will bring renewed vigour and fresh energy to our partnership.
Enjoy your deliberations!
ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road