BRICS Summit to impact Africa: Zuma

Cape Town, Feb 15 (IANS) The South African government's vision of a better Africa in a better world will receive great impetus when it hosts the 5th BRICS Summit next month in Durban, President Jacob Zuma has said in his State of the Nation address at parliament.

"We are inspired by the exponential growth of bilateral relations, diplomatically and economically, between South Africa and other BRICS countries," Zuma told MPs Thursday.

BRICS, an acronym for emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, will hold its fifth summit in Durban from March 26 to 27, reported Xinhua.

Referring to the 50th anniversary this year of the birth of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which has been succeeded by the African Union (AU), Zuma paid tribute to "its relentless struggle for the decolonization of our continent, including contributing to our own freedom".

He said the South African government will continue to work for a stronger and more effective AU.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) programme as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism have just celebrated their tenth year of existence. As the convener of the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, South Africa will continue to work with other champions to implement high impact infrastructure projects in the continent, Zuma said.

"On peace and security, we stand by the people of Mali in their effort to claim and assert the territorial integrity of their country. We urge the leadership in the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Somalia to continue their march towards lasting peace for the sake of their people," he said.

Zuma said South Africa remains firmly opposed to unconstitutional change of government.

"We are encouraged by the developments between Sudan and South Sudan. We commend our former president Thabo Mbeki and other members of the AU High Level Panel for the dedicated manner in which they have been working with the two sides. We are in solidarity with the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) as the country battles the menace to its security."

South Africa will continue supporting Africa's peace efforts including through mediation, troop contribution for peace keeping, and by providing material and financial assistance, he pledged.

"In this regard, we look forward to the conclusion of political dialogues in Zimbabwe and Madagascar," Zuma said.

Strengthening North-South relations remains central to South Africa's foreign policy agenda, he added.

Zuma reaffirmed the partnership with countries of the North, especially the US, Europe and Japan. He also considers the UN's 70th anniversary an opportunity to take forward the transformation of the UN Security Council.

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