THE decision of the High Court of Lesotho in Boloetse and Tuke v His Majesty the King, confirmed by the Court of Appeal, is a victory of monumental proportions for Lesotho and the people of Lesotho. It comes out of the consolidated cases separately instituted by journalist Kananelo Boloetse and Advocate Lintle Tuke.
In those cases, the applicants challenged the unconstitutionality of the declaration of the state of emergency by the Prime Minister, of the subsequent recall of the 10th Parliament by His Majesty the King and of the Acts of Parliament which were passed by Parliament upon its recall.
The High Court had agreed with applicants and granted the orders as sought. The respondents then appealed to the Court of Appeal which dismissed the appeal. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate and highlight the value and implications of the decision on the popular sovereignty of the people of Lesotho, rule of law and accountability in Lesotho.
To understand why that judgement is of fundamental importance you have to go back to the history of Lesotho.
From 1868 to 1966, Lesotho had been under colonial administration. The colonial enterprise did not only interfere with and restructured the custom-based socio-economic and lego-political systems and structures of governance but also stratified the people of Lesotho along social classes.
At independence, the 1966 Constitution was hoisted on Basotho from the Colonial Office in London. Since then, political violence, human rights violations and instability characterised governance and political life in Lesotho.
It was only in 1990 when, pushed by the constitutionalisation wave, the military regime urgently cobbled up the reforms agenda and processes leading to the 1993 Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly and the Constitutional Commission, the structures which implemented the 1990 reforms, were however not widely representative, did not hold all-encompassing consultations and ended up with a product which, to a large extent, lacked sociological legitimacy as ownership of the Constitution by Basotho remained a challenge.
Since the ushering of the democratic rule in Lesotho in 1993, it became clear that there were gaping cracks not only in respect of the substantive content of the Constitution (discrimination issues, justiciability of second-generation rights, powers of the King, etc) but also in the governance structures and the political system (e.g, Defence Commission, electoral model, etc).
This led to several efforts and measures being taken to patch up the areas of concern through, for example, amendments to the Constitution, the establishment of the Independent Political Authority and introduction of the Mixed Member Proportional representation model etc.
The advent of coalition politics in 2012 fueled the fires of discontentment, despair and despondency by the people of Lesotho at the spectre of lack of accountability, democratic backsliding, the cancer of corruption, irresponsive governments, cronyism and nepotism, abuse of state power, mismanagement of state funds and resources, docile first defenders of the Constitution (Attorneys General), the politicised judiciary that is unable to equalise and restructure power configurations at the social and state levels and a slumbering legal professional body.
The events (political instability and violence) of 2014 triggered the necessity for Lesotho to undertake constitutional reforms in seven thematic areas (constitutional, parliamentary, security sector, public service, justice sector, economic and media) through the establishment of the National Reforms Authority (NRA), following widely consultative, participatory and inclusive processes.
Exercising their popular sovereignty through the NRA – effectively, the Constituent Assembly – the people of Lesotho presented the proposed reforms in a form of a Bill (later called the Omnibus Bill 2022).
The National Assembly whose members were duly represented in the Constituent Assembly (NRA), in a surprising about-turn, astonishing all and sundry, mounted a parliamentary coup on the NRA proposed reforms, thus rejecting the essential content of the
NRA proposal, effectively disrespecting the popular sovereignty of the people of Lesotho as expressed in the proposed NRA Bill. This they did a few minutes shy of the dissolution of the 10th Parliament on the night of July 13, 2022.
The Prime Minister’s declaration of the “artificial” state of emergency was a forerunner and precursor to the recall of parliament by His Majesty.
Before the recall, the lieutenants of the parliamentary coup convinced many and His Majesty that they would, upon resuscitation of the dissolved parliament, steer a cause close to the NRA Bill. Once more, and upon exhumation from the dead, the coup operatives remained true to their real character and script.
They passed the Assembly Bill far from the NRA Bill and contrary to promises they made during the consensus-building forum organised by the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations on the 3rd to 5th August 2022. They also passed the National Assembly Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2022. His Majesty assented to these Bills and others into law.
The Constitutional Act Passed by Exhumed Parliament: What it Should be versus What it is.
I will focus only on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution Act 2022. It is an Act which should in principle transform and translate the values, aspirations and wishes of the entire nation as expressed in the NRA Bill into basic norms that will henceforth regulate not only the lives of the people but also the entire governance and the political system of Lesotho. It is an Act which should usher the new constitutional order into Lesotho.
It is an Act which should express the consensus of the people of Lesotho. It is an Act which should be a launch-pad and foundation for the reconciliation of the conflictual relations between the people of Lesotho. An Act on whose pedestals Basotho would be able to come together and heal the wounds of their historic past through institutionalised transitional justice.
It is the Act which should form the cradle for peace and unity in Lesotho. It is an Act which should usher the “new Lesotho which we have all always desired and wanted.” It is an Act that every sector of our social and political strata should be able to stand behind and point out as a reflection of the soul and identity of the people of Lesotho.
It is an Act which should express the national identity of Basotho. It is an Act which should express and mirror the popular sovereignty of Basotho. It is an Act which should be able to make Basotho forget the past and press for a better Lesotho. To sum this up: it should be an Act that should come from the Constituent Assembly, expressing the national consensus and soul of “THE LESOTHO WE WANT”.
The 10th Amendment of the Constitution Act 2022 is, in reality, far from the transformative Constitution which Basotho wanted, as expressed through the eye of the NRA Bill. This Act is a creature of members of the National Assembly of the 10th Parliament, and not of the people of Lesotho.
It is the product of the exercise of the borrowed “legislative power” of members of the National Assembly, and it is not an expression of popular sovereignty of the people of Lesotho. It is the product and spoils of the parliamentary coup operatives. It is the “ruins and debris” of the “power” struggle between “legislative power” and “popular sovereignty”, upon which the members of the National Assembly of the 10th Parliament of Lesotho wanted our new constitutional order and democracy to be founded, constructed and built.
It is an Act which sows and deepens social and political conflicts and cuts new incisions into the pained hearts of the people of Lesotho. It pours “salt” on the gaping wounds of our historic past and present challenges, as it were. It is an Act which mirrors “the Lesotho which members of the National Assembly want”.
It is the National Assembly’s subterfuge for consolidation of existing power configurations and perpetuation of the political and socio-economic maladies of the 1993 order.
If the Act had become law, Lesotho and the people of Lesotho would have lost “the constitutional moment” to restructure power (individual and State power) and to usher the new dispensation and order in Lesotho.
It would take Lesotho another 30 years to undertake credible, open and genuine reforms, whilst their political and socio-economic status remain worse than when they adopted the 1993 Constitution.
It is in this context that the decision of the High Court as confirmed by the Court of Appeal has become a monumental victory to the people of Lesotho in many respects.
The Value and Importance of the Court’s Decision The court’s decision is of immense importance in many material respects.
First, for the first time in the Kingdom of Lesotho (counting from 1868 when Lesotho came under colonial administration), the Roman-Dutch law received in the Kingdom did not allow any person to approach a court of law complaining about the exercise of public power which affects the public. Unless the complainant is himself or herself affected and can show the prejudice or harm peculiarly suffered or likely to be suffered by him, the doors to the courts were closed.
The consequence of these common law standing rules was that the government and other functionaries of public power were immune from scrutiny by the courts. The only solution was to await the election period to remove such state functionary, or to pit our hopes to powers-that-be to come to their senses and take appropriate action.
For the first time in 154 years, the High Court and the Court of Appeal declared that any person with sufficient interest in the actions or decisions of the State and State functionaries can approach the court for the review of the action and decision.
This public interest standing is of monumental value and is a cradle for the protection and advancement of the rule of law and constitutionalism and for holding the Government and State functionaries to account for their actions and decisions.
Second, the public interest standing decision of the High Court and the Court of Appeal takes the people of Lesotho and their justice system back to the pre-colonial era and days of Morena Moshoeshoe.
The pre-colonial justice system was not only founded on restorative justice values but also allowed any aggrieved person, however despised and of no social standing in the public, to bring to the attention of “Khotla” – the court of the Chief – a wrongful conduct, to participate in the Khotla deliberations, and to seek or suggest an appropriate remedy or relief.
It was in that traditional setting where “Bo-Motinyane le bona ba nang le lentsoe” – even the smallest of birds, the Grass Warblers, were recognised and their voice heard. The participation of common and/or lowly persons in the administration of the affairs of the State inculcated discipline and responsiveness on the part of those who exercised public power, and consequently put corruption at the lowest ebb.
Though not a panacea, the High Court and the Court of Appeal decision allowing the Grass Warblers (Bo-Motinyane) in the persons of Boloetsi and Tuke and the like, to open the high gates leading to the fountains of justice (the courts), will go a long way in the direction of discipline and accountability on the part of State functionaries.
Third, the decision is a great blow against the government’s unresponsiveness and lack of accountability. It affords more arsenals and tools in the people’s war against corruption, cronyism and nepotism. It is the triumph of the rule of law and constitutionalism over power, grandstanding, subterfuge and braggadocio by the political class in the Kingdom.
Fourth, the decision has effectively snatched the “loot” and “spoils” from the parliamentary coup operatives (National Assembly members) and restored the “stolen goods” to the rightful owners, the people of Lesotho. The sovereign power of the people is a supra-constitutional power high above the legislative power which the people have lent to their representatives (members of the National Assembly).
It was indeed remarkable to see the members of the exhumed 10th Parliament purporting to use the five-year-long borrowed legislative power to frustrate the implementation of the long-awaited national reforms (expressed in the NRA Bill). The people’s superintending power – the sovereign power of the people of Lesotho – was unconstitutionally subjected to the inferior legislative power which has “temporarily been granted to representatives” of the people to legislate.
The National Assembly failed to understand that within the context of the national reforms undertaken through the exercise of popular sovereign power, the role of parliament is limited to Certification, Ratification and/or Passing of the People’s Bill into law.
Fifth, the Courts, through this decision, have finally wrestled themselves out of the “strong-room” of the common law rules, in which the judiciary in Lesotho has been operating for more than one-and-half centuries.
Many including the Law Society, have beaten the “dead horse” and spurred it in the “public interest standing” and public interest litigation direction; the Stallion never moved an inch. The Stallion woke up in 2022 and trotted out of the common law shackles.
The Boloetse and Tuke case is the seminal key through which the orientation and capture of the judicial mind in common law manacles is ultimately freed.
Finally, the decision is a citadel of hope.
Hope for the people of Lesotho that the transformative constitutionalism which they aspired for almost 30 years ago (since 1993), will start to be implemented through public interest litigation.
It is a hope that not only public interest standing has been extended to the public-spirited people to take recourse to the courts, but that the courts will move further to ensure that appropriate innovative remedies will henceforth be developed and granted by the courts in meriting cases, to bridge the gap between the pious rhetoric in the paper (the Constitution) and the social reality of squalor living conditions of the people of Lesotho.
It is the hope that the next Parliament, the 11th Parliament, will refrain from the corruptible steps of their predecessor, and ensure that the people’s reforms, the People’s Bill, is duly certificated, ratified and passed into law.
We live to see that which is hoped for by the people of Lesotho, come to pass.
l Advocate Maqakachane is the president of the Law Society of Lesotho.
Advocate Tekane Maqakachane
Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?
A clash was reported to have taken place a few weeks ago between police officers, on the one hand, and an MP and his bodyguards, on the other, was always inevitable. It is a direct result of arrangements where people we have lent power to represent us in Parliament now use that power to come up with schemes by which they and their bodyguards should be exempted from equal treatment, and be treated differently from the rest us.
This conduct is anti-seMohlomi, and anti-seMoshoeshoe. And so are many other behaviours we have seen perpetrated by our MPs.
We can expect that those who behave this way will not stop at violation of road traffic laws but will go on to carry contraband in ‘MP’ registered vehicles, and claim exemption from police searches when confronted by the police.
The principle of ‘equality before the law’, and the principle that we should all be treated the same, is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance of social order. MPs who ignore, or violate, it are sources of social disorder. Such MPs have to be regarded as enemies of social order in Lesotho. They should bear in mind that they are opposing society when they oppose the police’s attempts to enforce the law.
We should all obey traffic laws. And, we should all stand in long queues for poor services at the Passport and Traffic Offices. Otherwise, if those we have voted into power use that power to exempt themselves and their bodyguards from poor public services, MPs will have no incentive and interest to work for improved quality of public service.
The failure by MPs and governments to address problems of poor public services is an important reason why everyday many Basotho cross into South Africa in search of better education, better medical services, and lower prices of basic necessities. That traffic includes cars which bear red registration numbers ferrying Lesotho public officials to South Africa for better services.
As always, MPs, Ministers, and other public servants will probably be exempted, or expect to be exempted, from the torment that comes with the new customs regime agreed by Revenue Services (SARS) and Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and implemented at RSA-Lesotho border posts. Exemption of officials and MPs will mean that they will have no interest, nor incentive, to lessen its toll on Basotho.
The new regime started early in August 2023. To educate travellers about it, the RSL staff at the Maseru border have been giving people leaflets that explain the new procedures.
Even before this new regime, and others that came before it, many people have always been suspicious that a lot of what people who enter Lesotho go through is not in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Agreement. For example, it is known that the Agreement is supposed to ensure that citizens of SACU member-countries do not pay tax on a similar item in more than one SACU country. In other words, citizens of SACU member-states should not be taxed twice, or more, for the same item within the SACU area.
But because of the bureaucracy that has been imposed on customs processes at the Lesotho-South Africa borders, many people fall victim to some bureaucratic detail, or other, and end up paying tax in South Africa and Lesotho for a similar item, or service.
In the new regime agreed by RSL and SARS, RSL officials tell us that we are supposed to stamp all receipts of value of M250, and above, at SARS. They say this while distributing a leaflet that says the threshold is M10 000.
For the M250 receipt to be stamped, you need to submit to SARS copies of pages of your passport showing your address in Lesotho, and showing dates on which you travelled to and from South Africa. The implication of this is that if you carry a South African passport you cannot bring groceries into Lesotho for reasons including the fact that Lesotho government cannot claim tax from South Africa on such goods. It is unclear what will happen to a South African tourists coming to Lesotho who might be refused permission to enter with their food.
As said, the requirement that we should stamp M250 receipts at SARS is not on the leaflet RSL officials are giving to travellers. Extraordinarily, RSL officials admit this.
So, at the expense of our time, and standing in receipt-stamping queues that will inevitably grow longer and longer, we are being forced to adhere to a requirement which is nowhere in the official papers.
Has the new regime been negotiated and agreed to by RSL officials alone, or is the government aware of the unreasonable measures that we have to comply with?
It must be said that, at least, for now, the RSL staff remain very helpful, and seem to acknowledge that requirements they are expected to enforce are unreasonable.
It seems nobody thinks of us when government and officials agree to onerous customs measures at our border posts. In part this is because, again, those we have lent power to represent us use that power to exempt themselves onerous procedures that they negotiate and agree to.
We need people who think of us when they negotiate customs and other agreements. Basotho need somebody who can speak on their behalf.
Prof Motlatsi Thabane
Developing close reading skills
One of the most important skills in adeptly dealing with comprehension-related questions lies in your acquisition and refining close-reading competencies and strategies. The word comprehend means to understand, to fully grasp the essence of a text. When you comprehend a text you will take in, as it were, all the elements of a text, you nibble in, to speak using metaphors, your teeth into the heart of the text. You savour the text, immersing yourself in the texture of the text.
Close-reading involves deep observation and critical analysis of a text or comprehension passage. Close-reading strategies demands that the reader of a text pick even the salient nuances of a text, he or she must take in all the hues and details of a text which are not mentioned directly in the text. This skill takes time to hone, but with constant practice and hard work, it can be done. Let’s do that in a practical way. We are going to focus on a very small extract depicting how one aspiring ironman trained rigorously to realise his dream and the social and emotional toll the training exerted on the man and his family and how, finally he won, much to the happiness and excitement of his family. Here is the extract, as you read, please focus on the use of language to create meaning and effect. Let’s try to discern the feelings of the writer when her husband, eventually became an ironman.
“Because it’s there,’ I’d snarl to anyone who dared question why any sane mortal would tackle an Ironman. I enjoyed mercilessly shaming his less-than-supportive business partner into recognising the potentially boundless benefits of Sam’s well-publicised adventure for their newly-established, fledgling travel company. A flurry of online articles described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ – it took me a few moments to recognise our family and beam with immeasurable pride.
Our son missed having Dad around at the weekends, especially if he woke up after Sam had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. He was given an ‘Ironman’ superhero toy as a birthday gift by some relatives and immediately started making it swim, bike and run! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.
Having said all that, watching Sam emerge god-like from the water, power past us on his bike and rocket down the finishing chute, head held high as our kids cheered with the crowd – utterly incredible and intoxicating, one of life’s rare pinnacles of perfection. It had been an epic journey for all of us. I’m so glad we did it. And next year? Well yes, it’s my turn.”
Have you seen how this extract is written in a very captivating way; it colourfully depicts the writer’s feelings of extreme excitement and euphoria when Sam completed the race successfully. The words, “having said all that” are colourful and conclusive. Before these words were uttered, the narrator was expressing her dissatisfaction about Sam’s involvement in sport and how demanding it was emotionally, physically and financially. But, now, the words show that the success overwhelmed even the sentiments or expressions of dissatisfaction registered earlier. One can also see that the writer is overwhelmed by pride and celebration at the success of her husband and she and the entire crowd were immersed in an “intoxicating” experience. Beer intoxicates, so the writer uses this word as a word picture to graphically show the intensity and pervasive nature of the happiness generated by Sam’s victory — it is as if they were overdrunk with the sense of success and accomplishment. Sam’s win evoked all those rare moments in life when all seems to be perfect and in its place; that is why the writer used the words, “life’s rare pinnacles of perfection” just to express that.
Have you also noticed how the writer uses a lot of word pictures to describe her reactions about people’s views regarding her husband’s involvement in the ironman race? One such word, a word picture is “flurry.” The word explains the immensity as well as the amount of excitement and frenzy of publicity generated by Sam’s attempt to be the iron man. This word is apt in describing the writer’s admiration for her husband’s feat and the publicity and excitement generated.
Let’s now focus on another text, let’s focus on how the extract reveals why people hate snakes as a result of the misconceptions they have about them. But notice how the writer arguably writes to endear us to the world of snakes and some of their very positive attributes. Let’s nibble at the text of the extract.
“In the United States, for example, public outcry based on fear and misinformation recently halted a scientifically sound conservation plan for timber rattlesnakes. Another project at the same location that involved releasing eagles was embraced by the community. Rattlesnakes are no less important than eagles. In fact, they may help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects thousands of people each year, by reducing the number of rodents that harbour this disease. But emotions override facts, it seems, where snakes are concerned. Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem – in most ecosystems on earth, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey-population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes! As predators, snakes keep prey-populations in balance. Snakes provide an easy, environmentally friendly, free and natural pest-control service. But snakes are worth saving not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are. Snakes share many behaviours with us, behaviours we value. They have friends. They take care of their kids and even their friends’ kids too. Want to help us change how people view and treat snakes? Visit the World Snake Day website.”
While you were still reading, I hope you saw that this is a really captivating text. It focuses on the misconceptions and lack of information we have about snakes, which information gaps lead us into hating snakes without reason. True, snakes are predatory but they also serve an important function in balancing the ecological balance.
Snakes are not that bad, too; and like us humans, they make friends, protect their young ones and the young ones of their friends. Pretty amazing to learn that snakes, too, have friends.
So the point is that there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions about snakes and their true habits and functions within the ecological sphere. Often times, they are shown to be cruel, bloody predators that kill in cold-blood. But snakes are also victims from birth and other creatures. Snakes are a natural means to curb diseases which are brought about by rodents. Thus, snakes help in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are relational and friendly.
Let’s now hone close-reading skills a little more. In the following extract, the writer beautifully describes her experiences of meeting snakes in their natural habitats in the rainforest and her excitement of seeing quite an exciting array of species. As you read, focus on the writer’s reaction to what she saw and how she is alive to the beautiful scenery around her and she captures that.
“Three hours later, returning from the trek, I felt bubbles of amazement and wonder rising. I’d seen gliding lizards fly effortlessly between trees, intricate dragonflies of infinite varieties and delicately etched, golden frogs. The overcast sky, saturated to the brim, had poured down heavily, drenching the forest, its native creatures, and the handful of humans who happened to be there. Thereafter began the frenzy of activities and sounds that engulfs the woods after a good rain – rhythmic sounds, musical, coordinated and orchestrated, and pleasantly deafening. Ah! My brimming heart and soothed soul enjoyed restful sleep in the tent that first night. Bonfires and loud music are prohibited to avoid any disturbance to animals and hygienic common bathrooms (with hot-water facilities) were appreciated. Everyone was expected to wash their own plates and glasses after every meal. We were encouraged to separate organic waste into the respective dustbins before retiring each night. All inorganic waste went back with you.”
You have picked words which convey meaning so aptly and beautifully. I liked the expression and the choice of words. The phrase, “bubbles of amazement” is so colourful and this is a word picture which shows or reflects the intensity of the writer’s excitement and frenzy at experiencing the tranquil and pleasant experience of being in a rainforest teeming with a vast array of species.
Here we are! Mastering close reading skills is a journey, but an exciting one, which allows you to immerse yourself in the text and allows you to feel all the juicy aspects of the text, as it were.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com.
The significance of BRICS for the African continent
In the pioneering work titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” (Global Economics Paper No: 66), Lord Jim O’Neill, then Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, introduced the term BRICs, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These nations’ economies were experiencing rapid growth, fuelling discussions about their potential to collectively shape the global economy by 2050. In the spirit of this vision, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China convened for the first time in July 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. This marked a pivotal moment in cementing the idea of forming a consortium of burgeoning economies.
Subsequently, the Foreign Ministers of these countries assembled in New York City in 2006 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and embraced the term “BRIC” as originally coined by Lord Jim O’Neill. On June 16, 2009, the inaugural ‘BRIC’ Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Later, South Africa was granted full membership in September 2010 during a BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. This led to the alteration of the acronym to BRICS. Building on this progress, South Africa participated in the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, on April 14, 2011.
BRICS is firmly anchored in the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusivity, consensus, and strengthened collaboration. The foundation of BRICS rests upon three pivotal pillars: political and security cooperation, financial and economic collaboration, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These pillars serve as a robust framework for guiding the alliance’s interactions and ensuring its enduring viability. This sentiment is particularly pronounced as the 15th BRICS Summit, slated for August 22-24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, convenes under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
Drawing from the World Bank data from 2022, the combined population of the five BRICS nations stands at 3.27 billion, constituting 41.1% of the global population. These countries’ cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022 is valued at 25.92 trillion, accounting for 25.8% of the world’s GDP. In contrast, Africa’s total population across its 55 countries is estimated at 1.4 billion, representing 17.5% of the global population. Africa’s overall GDP amounts to approximately US$3.0 trillion, contributing 2.7% to the global GDP.
The African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2023, underscores Africa’s abundant natural resources — oil, gas, minerals, land, sunlight, wind, and biodiversity —whose potential remains largely untapped and undervalued. The report highlights Africa’s trillion-dollar investment potential in the climate and green growth sectors, offering a promising avenue for private sector involvement.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) BRICS Investment Report for 2023 reveals that the BRICS economies collectively account for 18% of global exports and approximately $250 billion in foreign direct investment outflows. Notably, the BRICS nations have emerged as significant investors in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial and service sectors, as confirmed by the Africa Development Bank’s Briefing Note titled “Africa and the BRICS: A Win-Win Partnership?” (2003).
Moreover, the BRICS countries have expanded their presence on the continent in terms of foreign direct investment, outpacing traditional partners such as the United States and Europe. This emphasis on harnessing natural resources and boosting agricultural production is also underscored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Report “BRICS/Africa Partnership for Development” (2014).
Leveraging their substantial economic potential, the BRICS nations are optimally positioned to support Africa’s aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063. These countries play a pivotal role in driving investments in natural resource beneficiation, manufacturing, and industrialisation across the continent. They also provide strategic impetus for enhancing productivity and competitiveness, especially within the agricultural sector, through consistent investment efforts.
The emergence of the BRICS New Development Bank offers an alternative to the Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, which have historically contributed to Africa’s infrastructure development at a gradual pace. This bank holds the promise of financing comprehensive infrastructure projects across the continent, thereby enhancing connectivity through rail, maritime, air routes, and information and communication technology — an aspiration cherished by the African populace.
A symbiotic partnership between Africa and BRICS has the potential to elevate Africa’s status as a significant player on the global stage. This partnership extends to bolstering Africa’s role in global governance structures, including institutions like the United Nations and Multilateral Financial Institutions. The expansion of BRICS to encompass additional nations, including those from Africa, is poised to inspire African countries to assume greater responsibility for funding their sustainable development endeavours.
This approach empowers African nations to form alliances with developed countries that squarely address the continent’s priorities for sustainable growth and economic transformation. Most notably, the BRICS initiative lays the foundation for a multipolar world, contrasting the prevailing unipolar influence exerted by the US and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, and the US). This envisioned multipolar world rests on principles such as mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusiveness, consensus, and fortified collaborations. The International Monetary Fund, Economic Outlook (April, 2023) reveals that the population of the G7 countries is around 776.55 million representing 9.7% of the global population. The GDP for the G7 countries is around US$42.92 trillion representing around 30% of the world GDP.
In a recent interview with Africa Business in June 2023, Lord Jim O’Neill, the visionary behind BRICS, shared his perspective on the future of BRICS and its implications for Africa. He astutely remarked, “the notion that the group of seven ‘industrialised’ or ‘more developed’ or ‘early developed’ (G7) nations can single-handedly govern the world is disconcerting, given their diminishing share of the global GDP. Moreover, the G7 often finds itself aligned with the desires of Washington (US). How then can these select few address the world’s most pressing challenges? This predicament highlights the raison d’être behind my conception of BRICS: to advocate for a more effective global governance model than what the G7 offers.”
It is for these reasons that the enduring partnership between Africa and BRICS embodies a shared commitment to sustainable development, economic growth, and the transformation of global governance structures. The collaborative approach rooted in mutual benefit, respect, and a multi-polar perspective has the potential to reshape the global landscape, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Advocate Batlokoa Makong is a seasoned diplomat currently working for the African Union. He writes in his personal capacity.
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High Profile Cases in Limbo
130 Law Students Graduate From NUL
Metsing and Mochoboroane Case Postponed
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Lerotholi students want charges dropped
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LEC lights the way
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RFP rocked by death threats
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Nedbank posts strong growth
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Iconics Clothing bags big prize
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Police boss hit in pocket
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The ‘ear doctor’ driving change
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Child neglect cases on the rise