Brics loans to Eskom and Transnet in the spotlight ahead of summit
Civil society wants a seat at the Brics table, a gender desk for the Brics bank, and visa-free travel within Brics
Transnet and Eskom should never have received loans from the New Development Bank, based on their poor financial track records, the Civil Brics Forum said on Monday ahead of the 10th Brics summit this week.
The forum, a grouping of civil organisations also known as Track 3, held its press briefing with members of the steering committee of the local chapter in Johannesburg, where the forum presented a list of recommendations it has put to the Brics leaders’ forum through SA’s Brics sherpa, Anil Sooklal.
Owen Ndidi, national chairperson of the Civil Brics Forum, said: "We have been saddened by the news that the New Development Bank has loaned Eskom and Transnet.
"We felt that should not be the path that bank should take because many funds have been unaccounted for in those two entities.
"We thought at least renewable energy and other environmentally friendly sources should be funded by such a bank."
Transnet received a $200m loan from the bank in May to rehabilitate container terminals in Durban. Last week the bank activated a $180m to Eskom that it granted in 2016.
The Brics bank plans to lend $600m more to SA to distribute funds more evenly across its five-nation membership.
The Brics summit runs from Wednesday until to Friday under the theme, "Brics in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".
The Brics Civil Forum also wants a seat at the Brics discussion table, and has asked for Track 3 to be formalised, which would provides the recognition needed for civil society to engage heads of Brics states.
Oxfam executive director Sipho Mthathi, who is also a steering committee member of the Civil Brics Forum, said: "It has been really difficult for civil society to find its space in the Brics Bloc. As an African activist, having been part of many global processes, it’s really sad that it’s much easier for me to get a hearing at a G20 or OECD meeting than it is to … truly engage as civil society with our own governments."
The steering committee has also provided policy recommendations on thematic areas that include inclusive economic development, gender and inequality, food security, agriculture and land, peace and security, youth and New Development Bank.
The committee welcomed SA’s decision to establish a dedicated Brics gender and women’s forum but wants the New Development Bank to establish a gender policy, advisory committee and regional gender desks as a start.
Another recommendation is for a visa-free policy for all Brics nations.
Raymond Matlala, a member of SA Youth International Diplomacy and the Civil Brics Forum, said this was brought to the discussion table this year and further work will be done once a Brics youth secretariat has been formed.
Brazil and Russia have a visa-free policy. Matlala said it was hoped SA’s Presidency would lobby China and India to follow suit.
"There isn’t any concrete action yet. We agree as young people among the Brics countries that there should be a visa-free regime. This is something we think that we can be able to achieve within a year."
A full list of policy recommendations can be found at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NM8Ga8WlFer9SVugCgWwu40GxQXQJfiE