Africa-China Journalist forum

Wits University hosted the 6th Africa-China Journalist Forum yesterday. The forum provided a platform for a Africa and China journalist meet – purposed at sharing investigations and current and Africa-China journalistic cooperations.

The forum started with an overview of the Africa-China Reporting Project, which is journalist cooperative to nurture, train, share skills and build capacity of journalist in Africa. Another aim of the project is to provide journalism grants, publish features and create opportunities.

At the forum Dr. Bob Wekesa of Wits Journalism spoke on Africa-China reporting project in francophone African countries, as well as how former colonial powers still affect journalism in francophone African countries. He also mentioned the workshops that took place in Abidjan, Cote D’ivoire in October.

WU Yu-Shan a research associate of the Africa-China Reporting Project spoke on the need of capacity building with regards to journalism skills and access to information and knowledge. She also spoke about the need for non-governmental aspects important keep projects like the Africa-China reporting project going even when there a no more grants or facilities.

There were also a few investigative journalists from Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Cameroon. The journalists disclosed many of their investigative projects they’ve undertaken as well as the outcomes of those.

Many of their projects revolved around corruption between Chinese businesses and African governments they highlighted the damage corruption has on African communities and environment if there is no legal recourse.

Filmmakers, writers and photographers were also at the forum showcase Africa-China relations through their various mediums. The forum ended with a photo exhibition on Africa-China relations showcasing Chinese fishermen working in West African oceans and how they got on with locals.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Peacekeeping and silencing the guns within Africa and BRICS

Building and sustaining peace in Africa has featured extensively in communiques among BRICS member states. Stability, security and silencing the guns are significant African aspirations – and central to Africa becoming more efficient and competitive.

South Africa has played a significant role in peacekeeping missions in African countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. It has deployed troops as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the eastern DRC since 1999, when the Second Congo War broke out.

South Africa also took over command, in January 2015, of the UN Force Intervention Brigade, a military formation which constitutes part of the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC. This was mandated by the UN Security Council, acting on the recommendations of former UN secretarygeneral Ban Ki-moon.

South Africa has proposed that a BRICS peacekeeping working group be established. This will be deliberated during the meeting of the BRICS heads of state at the 2018 summit. Silencing the guns by 2020 is an ambitious target proposed by the AU.

This would require significant funding, which begs the question: To what extent can the AU, through it engagement with the BRICS bloc, leverage the permanent seat held by China and Russia on the UN Security Council to end all conflicts in the region? And, can it do the same with South Africa, which was reappointed to the council as a nonpermanent member for the period 2019 to 2020?

There is room for deeper engagement between the BRICS and the AU’s Peace and Security Council.

Find Full Article in BRICS Journal print Issue 6

New multi-billion rand train factory opens in Ekurhuleni, South Africa

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa was in Nigel, Ekurhuleni today to open a new train factory. Nigel being known as one of South Africa’s hubs for train building, this new factory is designed to revive the industry and promote local train manufacturing in the metro.

According to eNCA the factory will build, assemble, test and deliver 580 new commuters trains to be used by Metro-Railway and is expected to delivery two new trains by the end of the year. The factory has also put a focus on youth employment by employing people aged 35 and under to gain skills.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), who will be taking ownership and utilizing the trains delivered by the factory, has for some time now struggled to meet the needs of public commuters as many of their trains in use today are old, outdated, unreliable and dangerous.

South Africa and more specifically Gauteng is in desperate need of more reliable cheap forms of public transport, with petrol prices sky rocketing in recent months, many commuters have felt the pinch with the lower to middle class being the most adversely affected.

Public trains in South Africa are still the cheapest form of transport but its unreliability and dangerous nature have steered commuters to minibus taxis and buses. The building of this new train factory is well received as not only will it help with unemployment, but also provide value to the railway system in Gauteng and South Africa.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Future Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro’s and Brazil-China relations

Far-right presidential Jair Bolsonaro is probably just days away from being elected as the Brazil next president, with Brazil’s second round presidential run-off  taking place on 28 October, Sunday.

Bolsonaro is widely expect to win as his is still the more popular candidate, with his rival leftist Workers’ Party member Fernando Haddad failing to resonate. A congress member Jair Bolsonaro is not without controversy drawing comparisons to US president Donald Trump.

Similar to Trump Bolsonaro has criticized China on many occasions. China being Brazils biggest trade partner Bolsonaro has stated that their predatory trade practices are hurting Brazil and its people. With the previous Brazilian administration having had strong ties to China, Bolsonaro looks to moving the opposite direction.  

Bolsonaro is also fearful of the Chinese companies and investors taking over key resources in Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to protect strategic resources from foreign firms, siting Brazil could lose a dominate role in a key future industries if they do not protect them now.

China has already attempted to build a relationship with Jair Bolsonaro, with Chinese representatives meeting him twice in recent weeks according to How Jair Bolsonaro deals with China could foreshadow how he deals with the BRICS countries.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

New Development Bank and its implications for South Africa

The New Development Bank (NDB) the key financial institution for the BRICS countries in funding infrastructure and business projects with 23 projects approved for all BRICS countries, the NDB is also deepening its impact with regards to South Africa.

South Africa one of the beneficiary of the bank, according to the NDB recently cleared $300 million for the financing of South Africa’s green energy sector. The NDB in July activated a dormant loan to Eskom of $180 million and earlier this month extended a line of credit to the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) worth $300 million.

In May of this year the NDB loaned $200 million to a state-owned ports and freight operator, Transnet for the rehabilitation of its container terminals in Durban. New South African finances minister Tito Mboweni, in his 2018 medium-term budget speech highlighted the New Development bank, as one of the key banking institutions with regards to promoting agriculture and infrastructure develpoment.

The New Development Bank is also planning to increase lending for private sector to as much as 30% of its portfolio which sits at $5.1 billion at the moment, as reported by South Africa is definitely well positioned to gain even further in the future especially with the economic constraints its facing at the moment.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka


China wants free trade agreement with Canada

Canada can get a better trade deal from China. China expressed interest in the free trade  after the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA trade deal gives the partners of the deal the ability to evaluate each other’s potential free trade deal with other parties.

This could prevent Canada from getting a better deal with deal China, who currently has stronger growing economy as compared to the USA. Beijing has also said that it is willing to look in to Canada-China bilateral trade, but Canada may be looking for a deal with less blinding measures.

China is already Canada second biggest trade partner and their relationship is continually growing, there is also lots of room for growth in energy and resource sectors. The only sector where restricted trade may occur is in the trade of high-level communications technology between the countries.


Future Brazil president could change relations with BRICS

Jair Bolsonaro is looking like the clear favourite to become the new president of Brazil, South Africa and the BRIC will probably have to determine the direction of their relationship with Brazil once his inaugurated, Brazil being an emerging economy, part of BRICS and Latin America’s biggest democracy.

Brazil also one of the Top 10 economies, a producer of oil  with China being it major trade partner. Jair Bolsonaro promised in his campaign to bring down crime and corruption in Brazil, Bolsonaro is also known as the Brazil Trump, who has put United State first and pushed for a unilateral stance in foreign policy.

Bolsonaro has also stated to also sell off state enterprises to bring down the growing debt and prevent corruption, ease gun laws so citizens can protect themselves from criminals and also for the army to go after organised crime. On the 28 October Brazil will go through the second round runoff were the presidential candidate with the most votes will become president.


US may be entering new cold war with China due to sanctions

The US administration approval of the $330 million weapons sale to Taiwan last month as well as US officials talking of a rhetorical offense against China has put further pressure on the US-China relations.

The US administration has called for re-establishment of US-China relations. The US administration further alleged that China was hacking the country and stealing technology secrets.  The US has also called out China’s unfair trade practices as well as reason for the trade tariffs.

The new view of China by the United States is that of a great power competition, the US has signaled its intentions to compete with China in worldwide economic and strategic aggression. The US also wants shift the Chinese government, to change its behavior regarding the civil and human rights of its citizens.

There are fears that the US may have escalated tensions even further by sanctioning China and certain Chinese business men. if China were to retaliate to this would initiate a new cold war.


Brazil’s electoral system

On the 7 October Sunday, Brazil will elect a new president, vice president and congress. The President of Brazil can only be elected via absolute majority over a two round system and then has a 4 year term before the next the election.

The election of Governors and legislature will also be held on the Sunday.  The three main candidates so far expect to make the second round are Jair Bolsonaro, far-right and populist from the Social Liberal Party; former São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad representing the Workers’ Party; and environmentalist Marina Silva of the Sustainability Party.

Citizen participating in the general election will vote for the candidate they believe can take Brazil forward. The candidate who take more than 50% of the vote will be declare the elected  president  of Brazil, if no candidate achieves the 50% then there will be a second round runoff scheduled for 28 October.

In the second round runoff the candidate with the most votes will be considered the winner and elected the new president of Brazil. The General election is widely expected to go to the next around as no candidate is believed will achieve the 50% mark.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Jair Bolsonaro increases lead in Brazil elections

Jair Bolsonaro is starting to look like the clear favourite for the Brazilian presidency carving out a 10-point lead over his closest rival Workers Party candidate Fernando Haddad. Polls are suggesting that they will tie in the second-round runoff.

Bolsonaro is also recovering from an assassination attempt where stabbed near-fatally. 31% percent of voters expecting to support him for the first round, while Haddad has 21% of voter support. The second-round runoff is expected to take place on Oct 28 only required if no candidate wins with a majority.