Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the first meeting of the BRICS Business Council, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg
Your Excellency, former President Chissano, Honourable Dr Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Honourable Ministers Nkoana-Mashabane and Davies, Honourable Mr Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, Mr Patrice Motsepe, Chair of the BRICS Business Council and the Distinguished Chairpersons of the respective chapters of the BRICS Business Council, Distinguished Captains of Industry from our BRICS and African partner countries, Ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasure to welcome you to this important BRICS Business Council meeting. This meeting takes place just a few months after the fifth BRICS Summit held in Durban in March. We extend a warm welcome to our special guests from the BRICS family (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
Our visitors have come to these shores just as we are preparing to celebrate 20 years of freedom in just a few months. We will be thanking the international community again for the enormous contribution to the end of racial oppression in our country.
We will be celebrating because we have done well as a country under difficult conditions. South Africa remains an inspiring story of a nation working against all odds to reverse a devastating legacy of a deliberate underdevelopment of the majority.
Census results released last year, tell a story of a country that continues to make progress, despite the global economic difficulties which affect even the most powerful economies. We are making progress steadily even in the face of persistent challenges such as poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Each year we do better with regards to extending services such as quality health care, water, sanitation, electricity, roads and housing. Taking forward our socio-economic development programmes is supported immensely by partnerships for progress, such as the BRICS grouping.
At the Fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, we considered the building blocks that would help us make this crucial forum to move forward. We created two new structures to assist us in formulating a long-term strategic vision for the BRICS grouping, namely the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Think Tanks Council.
Our intention with the BRICS Business Council is to provide a platform to explore new models and approaches towards more equitable development and inclusive growth in the world. I am therefore particularly pleased to attend the first mid-term meeting of the newly established BRICS Business Council.