'We are not caught between India and China': Spokesperson for South African president

He says the inclusion of AU into G20 augurs well for the world

41-Vincent-Magwenya Vincent Magwenya

THE G20 SUMMIT has opened the doors for a continent with the inclusion of the African Union. The move has tilted the balance in favour of the Global South. In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for the president of South Africa, speaks about the distortion that has been corrected with the AU’s inclusion and how it augurs well for the world. Edited excerpts:

Q/ How do you view the inclusion of the African Union in the G20?

A/ South Africa has been advocating for the inclusion of Africa in G20. Beyond that, we have called for the inclusion of the Global South in various processes that seek to reshape the global agenda on development. It was always a myth that such platforms could exclude a continent of more than 1.4 billion people. That distortion has been corrected. It augurs well, in terms of solidarity and in terms of a collective approach. We would like to see the resolution of the many challenges that the world confronts. From a security point of view and from a climate change mitigation point of view, there is going to be greater solidarity and collaboration.

Q/ With the inclusion of the African Union, it seems that the conversation is being really shaped by the emerging economies.

A/ The Indian government and Prime Minister Modi have done fantastically well in ensuring that this summit is focused on the inclusion of the Global South. Going on from here, it is going to be very difficult for any multilateral platform to ignore the Global South. You are going to see an accelerated push towards the reforms that we have been seeking in other multilateral forums, like the UN Security Council. We will be looking for a more equitable share of resources. What this summit has done is to give more impetus to that advocacy.

Q/ There seems to be a perception that South Africa is caught between India and China.

A/ We certainly do not feel that we are caught between India and China. We have seen a great deal of cooperation between India and China, especially within BRICS. When President Cyril Ramaphosa was engaged with various BRICS members, he sought consensus on the shape and format of the BRICS summit. He also sought consensus in terms of the expansion of BRICS. Our experience is different from the commonly espoused position of rivalry between these countries.

Q/ You talked about restructuring global financial institutions. How difficult is that going to be? Also, your views on climate justice?

A/ It is a process that is going to take time. But it is a process that is necessary and cannot be wished away. We had the first step at this G20 summit with respect to the inclusion of the African continent. What is going to follow from here on is an acceleration of the reforms that we are seeking.

With respect to the Just Transition (greening the economy in a fair and inclusive manner), in South Africa we have reached a consensus with all areas of society in terms of our roadmap to decarbonise our economy. The focus is going to be how we fund that process. Funding has been pledged by developed countries. Let us see those commitments.

Q/ How does South Africa look at India’s presidency?

A/ India has sought to define this summit around the theme of inclusivity. That has been well achieved. The signature moment is obviously the inclusion of the African Union, but from the onset we were fully aligned with India’s vision.