Remarks by the Presiding Officers of Parliament at the Occasion of the Official Media Launch of the 9th BRICS PF
Let me start by thanking all members of the media for attending this media launch of the BRICS Parliamentary Forum that is taking place tomorrow, the 27th and 28th of September 2023, here at the Emperors Palace, Johannesburg.
TRIBUTE TO ZOLEKA MANDELA’s MEMORY
Before we go into the substance of this briefing, allow us, on behalf of Parliament, to extend our deepest condolences to the Mandela family and the entire nation on the sad passing of the remarkable activist and granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Zoleka Mandela. Her passing yesterday, a day before the birthday of her beloved grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, is a poignant reminder of the interwoven legacies, representing a family's enduring commitment to justice, equality, and freedom.
Zoleka Mandela was not only the granddaughter of two iconic figures in South Africa's history but also a passionate advocate for change in her own right. As a writer, activist, and survivor, she fearlessly shared her personal battles, including her struggles with addiction and her courageous fight against breast cancer. Her willingness to speak openly about her challenges inspired many and showcased the strength that ran through her veins.
Today, as we remember Zoleka Mandela, we also pay tribute to her grandmother, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who played an important role in the liberation and service to South Africa. Her influence on Zoleka's life, both as a grandmother and as a source of inspiration, continued to shape the trajectory of her granddaughter's activism and served as a testament to the enduring power of family bonds and the indomitable spirit of those who fight for justice.
In this moment of profound loss, let us come together as a nation to honour Zoleka Mandela's memory and reflect on the indomitable spirit of her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family during this difficult time.
May both Zoleka Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela rest in eternal peace.
INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF THE BRICS PF
The BRICS PF is a structure made up of leaders of legislative organs of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries. It is a symbol of cooperation and proof of our shared commitment to strengthening diplomatic ties and fostering cooperation on many fronts.
The primary purpose of the BRICS PF Assembly is to reinforce and cultivate relationships at the highest levels of parliamentary chambers, committees, and groups of parliamentarians. Through inter-parliamentary exchanges and expert consultations, it aims to enhance cooperation and increase collective impact.
THEME OF THE 9th BRICS PF ASSEMBLY
Parliament will host the 9th meeting with the theme "Harnessing Multilateralism and Parliamentary Diplomacy to Deepen BRICS and Africa Partnership for Accelerated Implementation of the Africa Free-Trade Agreement."
The 9th BRICS PF Assembly's current theme is consistent with the recent Heads of State Summit held in Johannesburg last month. South Africa was the BRICS Chair that hosted the 15th Heads of State Summit. Parliament has the dual role of facilitating meaningful interactions, promoting economic prosperity, and advancing strategic partnerships that transcend borders.
Our focus on the alignment of the theme demonstrates our steadfast dedication to promoting a more inclusive, integrated, and prosperous Africa. This theme also highlights the significance of Africa in South Africa's foreign policy, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our national interests with Africa's stability, unity, and prosperity.
The BRICS nations have a valuable opportunity to lead in promoting change and shaping a new global order while preserving multilateralism as the foundation for international relations. Parliaments, which consist of representatives from diverse political parties and ideologies, work on behalf of their countries' citizens. By participating in groups such as the BRICS PF, parliaments can help ensure that the aspirations and desires of their people are met.
BENEFITS OF BRICS MEMBERSHIP
South Africa's membership in BRICS has been beneficial as it allows us to have a united voice in promoting a world order based on mutual respect and equal sovereignty among nations. Being a part of BRICS is essential for South Africa as it offers concrete advantages in areas such as research, innovation, energy, health, and education cooperation.
Hosting the BRICS summit presented an opportunity for South Africa to gain benefits as it increased South Africa's involvement in global matters, especially when it comes to reforming multilateral institutions.
The platforms created by BRICS allow for the exchange of best practices, knowledge, and expertise, including the use of innovative technologies to accelerate the country's industrialization in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution goals. Additionally, BRICS serves as a platform for sharing and learning and is receptive to new ideas and directions.
The summit aimed to find solutions for a sustainable energy transition that can benefit people's lives and livelihoods, including those in industries like mining.
ALIGNMENT WITH THE 15th BRICS SUMMIT
Creating synergies between the 15th BRICS Summit and the 9th BRICS PF themes not only assists with clear communication of South Africa's common position and cooperation vision during the BRICS presidency but will also ensure continuity and consistency in the work of BRICS.
Through the BRICS Parliamentary Forum, member parliaments have a critical role in overseeing legislative actions and monitoring Executive branch decisions. To effectively carry out this responsibility, lawmakers scrutinize the outcomes of the Heads of States Summit to allow them to keep track of the implementation of decisions and ensure they benefit the citizens of their respective countries.
Adhering to the principle of chairpersonship rotation, South Africa took from China the Chairpersonship from January 1, 2023.
FORMAT OF THE BRICS PF ASSEMBLY
Since the inaugural BRICS PF meeting, which was held in Moscow, Russia in 2015, the forum’s meetings have been held parallel to the BRICS Heads of State Summit or on the sidelines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meetings.
As much as this was convenient and saved time and resources, it did not give the BRICS PF the necessary recognition it deserved. This also diminished its stature as an equally important structure within the BRICS system.
That is why we deemed it fit to hold this meeting separately from the other meetings in order to give it the significance it deserves, guided by the principles of separation of powers.
The Assembly meeting starts tomorrow on the 27th of September with a keynote address by the Deputy President of South Africa, Mr Paul Mashatile and a debate on the outcomes of the 15th BRICS Summit Heads of State.
Also expected to take place on the second day, 28th of September, is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among the countries, following breakaway commissions to discuss:
ATTENDANCE OF DIGNITARIES & GUESTS
- BRICS and Africa Partnership,
- BRICS energy issues,
- Climate Change and legislative mobilization in BRICS countries, and
- BRICS Peace and Security.
Over 250 delegates are anticipated to attend the Assembly, with several critical outcomes expected, including the formal establishment of the BRICS PF through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, the issuance of a Declaration or Outcome Document outlining our shared vision, a decision on establishing the BRICS PF Secretariat, and most importantly, a strengthened BRICS identity with increased people-to-people exchanges.
We have received confirmation that all BRICS Member Nations, including the new prospective members in the BRICS Plus, will be participating in the BRICS Parliamentary Forum. These include:
1. Federative Republic of Brazil
2. Russia Federation
3. Republic of India
4. People’s Republic of China
Among the invited dignitaries, we can also confirm the attendance of:
- Ms. Baleka Mbete, Former Speaker of the National Assembly and Former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa
- HE Dr. Hanafy Ali Gebaly, Speaker of the Egyptian House of Representatives
- HE Mr. Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, President of MajlesShoraye Eslaimi of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Hon. Esperança Laurinda Francisco Nhuane Bias, Speaker of the National Assembly, Parliament of Mozambique
- Hon. Prof. Peter H. Katjavivi, MP, Speaker of the National Assembly, Parliament of Namibia
- HE Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of Majlis Watani Itihadi, United Arab Emirates
- Cllr Nthabiseng Tshivhenga, Speaker of the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality
Public participation is an essential part of the business of Parliament, and South Africans will be able to follow the proceedings live on a wide range of media platforms, including Parliament’s own multimedia and television platforms as well as mainstream media.
We have received over 120 requests for accreditation from members of the media who are interested in covering the BRICS PF. Media personnel are encouraged to collect their accreditation tags at the Southern Sun O.R. Tambo International Airport, Airport Grounds, Jones Road, Johannesburg, as no tags will be handed out tomorrow at Emperors Palace during the event.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND CLOSING
We would also like to thank the City of Ekurhuleni for hosting us and welcoming us to their beautiful city.
Thank you, Cllr Nthabiseng Tshivhenga, for ukusivulela amasango.
We wish to have a productive and successful meeting.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo
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