Will the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (Brics) bloc ever really challenge the world financial order, as is often advertised? New Development Bank (NDB) leaders — minus one conspicuous governor, Pravin Gordhan — meet in Delhi this weekend, to restate a vision of financial alternatives to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Indeed the NDB began with environmentally oriented loans last year, and in 2017 aims to add $3bn in new credits. But from SA’s standpoint, all is not well, judging not only by repeated conflicts over NDB representation, but also the only local borrower’s unwillingness to support NDB-financed renewable energy, apparent state manipulation by an Indian family and a Russian nuclear vendor, and perhaps most importantly, the country’s (and continent’s) capitalisation and debt repayment capacities. Why green loans? The bank’s original designers were two former World Bank chief economists, Joe Stiglitz and Nick Stern. Although their public endors...

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