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Writers and the land question



The fast-track land reform of Zimbabwe between 1998 and 2007 was a tremendous movement which caused an international outcry. It tended to be violent towards the whites who were on land. The land was violently taken from white farmers and given to black Zimbabweans. The effects of that movement are still deeply felt across that country.

The issue of imbalances in the ownership of land between the settler whites and the black indigenous majority is one that runs across the sub-Saharan region.
In Kenya, for example, the well-known Land (and) Freedom Army, popularly known as the Mau Mau, was formed in the early 1950s partly due to land imbalances between settler and native. Mau Mau protracted an insurgency whose primary objectives were to repossess the land and also to gain national independence until the British government initiated liberation talks with Kenyan leaders in 1960 and independence was achieved in 1964.

In South Africa, while the discriminatory policies affected every aspect of South African life, it was on the access and ownership to land where it was heavily felt. Black ownership of property, which in most cases is defined by land in either urban or rural areas, was very difficult. African ownership of land was based on communal tenure systems that were promoted by the whites in a manner that strangled Africans. Successive land laws alienated Africans from their land. The Group Areas Act itself was used to enforce the racial segregation laws in South Africa. Blacks were generally relocated to African “reserves” which were renamed ‘homelands.’

It is said that when the South African government took over the administration of Namibia in 1920, approximately 12 million hectares of prime land were in the hands of the whites. By 1925, a further 12 million hectares had been given to the whites, mostly Afrikaner farmers. While large tracts of arable land were being allocated to the whites, the Native Land Commission proclaimed a paltry 2 million hectares for Africans who constituted 90 percent of the population.
In Namibia, and South Africa today, the land question is still hanging.

Regardless of the land reform that took place in that country, in Zimbabwe there has been a few literary works which are based solely and broadly on the fast-track land reform (1998-2007), in the manner of Jorge Amado’s The Violent Land of 1943, where the land issue is the author’s sole attention and not just selected events in the background. This prompted some people in the literary field to ask, ‘Where is the literature of the Zimbabwe land reform?’

The fast-track land reform phase brought Zimbabwe into the international spotlight, arguably much more than the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe itself.
The assumption is that the Zimbabwean writer of fiction is a betrayer in that he does not write about the burning issues of his country. The other assumption is that since you are a writer, you must ‘know everything’ enough to sit down and just write now-now!

So that is why I, Memory Chirere, a published Zimbabwean writer had already gone out much earlier into the field from 1999 to 2000. The great writer, Dambudzo Marechera, had done the same; researching in order to write a book called Scrapiron Blues. I adopted his methods and went out to see and listen to people and scribble notes in my vicinity of Bindura town in northern Zimbabwe before I could write about the fast-track land reform.

I was taking down notes on what the typical actors said and did during the onset of the fast-track land reform of Zimbabwe. The intention was not only to try and create a historical fictional piece of work out of that but also to work out the implications of the actions and utterances of the fast-track land reform actors had to a writer. These actors are what I often refer to as ‘my targets.’

As demonstrated before by Tolstoy in the process of writing War and Peace in Russia and Pepetela in the case of Mayombe in Angola, I was aware that to be able to create around any historic event, the writer needs to listen carefully to real people and come to terms with the validity of their utterances and actions before fictionalising them.

I discovered that these actors and characters on the ground were already in search of an author, in the fashion of Luigi Pirandelo’s play of 1921, Six Characters In search of An Author.
In that play, the rehearsal of a play is about to begin, action is unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of six strange people who explain that they are themselves – unfinished characters in search of an author to finish their story! This was a unique case in Creative Writing where the characters or targets demanded to be ‘created’ in a certain way.

The evaluation of the land reform in Zimbabwe (by Zimbabweans) was playing out viciously in what may seem informal courts like the bars, the weddings, the funerals and other gatherings where, once in a while, individuals utter attitudinal and maybe, factual statements like: Unotora farm yemurungu usina kana badza, unoti ucharima nei? Mauraya the bread basket of Southern Africa! (You grab a white-man’s farm when you do not even have a hoe. So how will you till the land? You have destroyed the bread-basket of Southern Africa!), Purazi ndinoridii ini zvangu, I am a professional ane basa rake! (Why do I need a farm? I am a contended professional?), Ko nyika yose zvayave maruzevha nhaimiwe! (The land reform has villagised the whole country!)

The assumption is that all our informal utterances are texts and that we are their fortunate and unfortunate authors, writing and rewriting what we have grown to take as fact and rational perceptions. My targets around Bindura were not only demanding to be written about but were also writing out how they read or misread history.
During the fast-track stage of the land reform, Bindura was awash with passersby; men and women of all ages from around Mashonaland Central who moved in teams of 50 to 100 to 150 and sometimes whole villages, as they occupied and parcelled out land willy-nilly on the commercial farms.

They passed through Bindura town to connect routes, to buy groceries and to see relatives and one of their key utterance was (We have come to take the mortar) ‘Tauya kuzotora dhaga.’ To the employed class of Bindura like teachers, nurses, police officers, clerks, these people initially appeared unpolished and unreasonable and even possessed by evil spirits. The Tauya kuzotora dhaga language came across as a physical action. It had the image of grabbing something with one’s bare hands, taking it to some other place where it rightfully belonged.

The use of dhaga in that statement was reminiscent of the construction site because ‘dhaga’ and ‘ivhu’ are quite different. Dhaga is mortar, the builder’s paste mixture of soil, cement, sand and water. It is as if these people were desperately looking to build a mortar and that whatever they had been building was in danger of not being completed because of the shortage.

From a certain angle, this was apt because (from the acute overcrowding) farming space had visibly run out in the nearby TTLs like Madziwa, Chiweshe and Dotito, exactly in the fashion of the running out of building mortar. Ironically the shortage of land was the major grievance that subsequently led to the war of liberation itself.

This being the onset of the fast track land reform, the Bindura audience wondered how this ‘kutora dhaga’ would occur in a legal sense. In the so-called modern capitalist setting, where land tenure is individual and private, how would one simply say they have come all the way from a village to take prime land?
I wondered how I would use these people in a story or poem or novel. Would I be on the side of my targets? Would I instead portray them as people from an outer space? If I were to go on their side, would I present them truthfully when I was not part of ‘kutora dhaga’? I was supposed to be a mere objective observer.

At some point, I battled with the other question: Should I, the author, stop listening and scribbling and join these people ‘pakutora dhaga’ and write later? I happen to come from the same place as some of these people and had grown up amidst the land shortage grievances which spanned back to the days of occupation.
Then as the author, I was certain that there are two main ways of acquiring land in a traditional Shona society from where the kutora dhaga people came from: (a) an individual obtains land rights by residence. As long as individuals were politically acceptable in the community/village, they acquired a piece of land after consulting the village headman, who in turn had constant contact with the sub chief or chief. Once an individual had acquired a piece of land, the community protected his/her rights to its use as long as he continued to use it. When not in use, land reverted to the community.

(b) An individual obtains land through lineage: — In this system, access to agricultural land was exclusively reserved for use by the members who traced their heritage from a common ancestry. As a rule, transfer of land rights among the Luvale for example was between matrilineal relatives or friends, and the land rights of a deceased person were most likely taken over by a matrilineal relative.

So where was kutora dhaga coming from? During this search for a story, I spoke to Johnston Machinjike of Chiweshe (June: 2000). He said to me: Chamunondibvunza chiiko nhai sakuwana? Ndinonzva naivo asekuru wangu kuti dhaga tikambenge taritorehwa zvitsvenetsvene novarungu pavakauya zvokuti ukatarisa mune maorange mese umu mune makuva edu vanhu veKwaChiweshe. Kwatinoita uku hudzoka mwachewe! Iri pamusimha ndonjiri. (Don’t ask silly questions, stranger. I understand that we were pushed from all the land around here and if you go around the estates you will find graves upon graves of the people of Chiweshe.)

With the help of hindsight, my target was making an argument. He wanted compensation as land reform. He was not talking about restitution! According to Virgo Graham, the law of restitution is the law of gains-based recovery. It is to be contrasted with the law of restitution which is the law of loss-based recovery. Obligations to make restitution and obligations to pay compensation are each a type of legal response to events in the real world.
When a court orders restitution it orders the defendant to give up his/her gains to the claimant. When a court orders compensation it orders the defendant to pay the claimant for his or her loss.

My target was not looking for land in order to be productive but as a form of recovery. He surely deserved such a minimum demand. World History is replete with such stories. This had played out and continues to play out in the territories of the Red Indians in the United States and Aborigines in Australia. For my target, this was a very emotional moment. My target wanted to seize the moment. My character had no luxury to think if he was right or wrong because he was here to right a historic wrong.
Another statement was: “Muri kungomera pese pese fanika howa” which means (You are just germinating haphazardly like mushroom.)

This statement was uttered by critics of the fast-track land reform programme to describe the mushrooming of farming settlements on farms that legally belonged to white people. The assumption is why these people got onto the farms without consulting any formal authorities. The occupiers would appear, sometimes unannounced and start to clear land and farming activity would begin. Soon they would be joined by others and there would be a farm within a farm within a farm.

It is at this precise moment that I did a quick sketch of a short story called Maize. It was first published in Writing Still Weaver Press in 2003. It is a story based on a woman in Shamva during the fast-track land programme that I came across when accompanying a journalist friend. She was a very beautiful woman staying all by herself in a hut in the middle of a partial clearing where her maize crop was beginning to germinate. We rushed to her hut to avoid the impending storm. I imagined myself coming back to see her on my own under the pretence of having left my luggage in her hut during the first visit.

‘Kungomera sehowa’ (just germinating like mushroom) is a statement coming from a derogatory Shona term ‘mwana wekuhowa’ (child from mushroom gathering spree) More precisely, this means a miracle child who came from a woman who had gone out gathering mushrooms.
Therefore, those who were ‘germinating’ on the farms like mushroom are perceived as upstarts and bringers of tragedy and mishap just like the boy from the mushroom world.

This points at the supposed immorality of the land reform programme since all these settlements are growth without design. It is important that the mushroom signify mythical happenings because mushroom, suddenly springs from the ground.
The land reform in Zimbabwe has proved to me, maybe more than the liberation struggle itself, that when we fictionalise events of our time through song, poetry, novel, sculpture and others, we are challenged to go beyond scripting and sculpting and ask ourselves; who am I in all this?

In an essay of 1987, Dambudzo Marechera himself says: “If brightness can fall from the air, then, as with Heinrich Heine, good poetry is the art of making invisibility visible. If I am looking at something, and I am conscious of myself looking, does that affect what I see?” Every writer, indeed, is a writer in politics because even if you make the invisible visible, what we see from your work are the conversations that you have done with the subject through what you have privileged or underplayed.

Memory Chirere

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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

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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:

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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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