Our turn to buy the BRICS drinks
I would be very surprised if Goldman Sachs's Jim O'Neill ever suspected that BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), an acronym he coined when presenting a paper in 2001 entitled "Building Better Global Economic BRICs", would still be in common usage some twelve years later.
His original paper suggested a shift away from the traditional G7 economies towards the developing world and predicted that the BRIC economies would overtake the G7 economies by the year 2027. Interestingly, O'Neill was often quizzed about which other countries might join the BRIC group and rejected the idea that South Africa could become a member at a Reuters Investment Outlook conference held as recently as December 2010. Our economy was simply too small to be of any significance he argued. Shortly afterwards we joined BRIC and it then become known as BRICS.
You probably remember those five piece rock bands where four band members are busy on stage energetically thrashing drum kits, playing lead guitar riffs, knocking out mesmerising keyboard solos and sending out throbbing bass lines. And the fifth band member is on stage playing a tambourine. The tambourine player also doubles up for backing vocals and is occasionally promoted to the bongos but the reason he is there is that he failed his A levels at Stowe and his Dad put up the backing for the band and helped sign their first record contract.
Yes gentle reader, you know where this is heading. We are the tambourine player in the BRICS supergroup. Consider the figures (courtesy of News 24). We have a GDP of $390 bln against China's $8.25 trillion. In fact India, the weakest of the BRIC members, has a GDP of just under $2 trillion. We are a minnow and yet here we are hosting the BRICS conference in Durban and acting as though we are a big shot. Perhaps Jim O'Neill was right about our credentials to join the BRIC grouping.
It was interesting to read an interview by Ryland Fisher with our Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the double barreled Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. I didn't even know such a minister existed but maybe her past efforts have been eclipsed by the unsavoury antics of her cabinet colleagues.
Fisher asks the Minister whether she feels the debate as to whether or not we should be a member of BRICS is still ongoing. To which the minister responds and gives as justification for our membership a lot of waffle about our untapped mineral wealth (estimated at $2.5 trillion) and the diversity of our economy, whatever that might mean. She also claims that "in world affairs we champion international rule of law, democracy and human rights."
What a load of cobblers. What about Burma? Or the banning of the Dalai Lama? Or our ongoing support for Mad Bob up north. Or indeed our recent escapades in the Central African Republic. Not to mention our cosying up to the late unlamented Col Gaddafi and other extremist scumbags from that area. If support for decency and human rights were a pre-condition for BRICS membership then we definitely wouldn't qualify.
However, it's odd that the minister should even mention this because if she'd bothered to do a bit of homework she would realise that the biggest BRIC of all also disregards human rights and democracy. So, by sheer happenstance, we fit in rather well despite the fact that we are economic midgets. I'm sure the ANC would love to have much more in common with China, particularly with regard to the loose cannon social media and the less patriotic members of the press.
So what are Brazil, Russia, India and China doing here in Durban drinking our tax payer sponsored booze and showering us with friendly words and warm smiles? Well, it should be obvious. They're here to give us the biggest screwing over since the arms deal and who can blame them?
Unlike the other four BRICS members, we have a terminally stupid anti-capitalist government that doesn't understand the first thing about how to get an economy going. The clothes I buy from Woollies and the electronic gadgets I use every day aren't made in South Africa; they're made in China right down to my Apple iPhone.
The sole point of flattering South Africa with BRICS membership is to achieve peaceful colonialism. Our BRICS partners are very interested in what we have underground and in selling us stuff but they know enough about us to understand that we have an unskilled and lazy workforce so they won't be creating any jobs down here any time soon. Not unless COSATU relent and allow local workers to compete with Indian and Chinese labour costs.
Fortunately our BRIC partners well understand that African elites are easily bought and our own sad history of corruption suggests that a few million slipped into the right hands will ensure mining rights for life. By global standards we are a cheap date.
Of course, I could be wrong and this whole BRICS thing may be just what we need to kickstart our economy and create a vibrant South African economy and trickle down wealth for all. But reading over the columns I have written these past eighteen years I have to say that my track record is uncannily accurate. I may be the country's most shameless "unreconstructed" racist but I still reckon I know an arse ripping scam when I see one. And, boy, are we about to have our arses ripped?
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