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2023 BRICS Summit in Johannesburg
The 15th BRICS summit will take place from August 22-24 in Johannesburg, South Africa, which assumed the rotating BRICS presidency in January 2023.

BRICS & Shanghai Cooperation Organization May Merge Into 'One Entity': Ex-South African Diplomat

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The 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, is expected to focus on several issues, including the expansion of the group. Earlier this week, South Africa's Foreign Ministry said that nearly two dozen countries had submitted formal applications to join the bloc, while over 30 states had confirmed their attendance at the upcoming summit.
The expansion of the BRICS grouping, which brings together some of the world's leading emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – has the potential to bring significant changes to the international system, according to Dr. Kingsley Makhubela, a former South African ambassador and conflict resolution specialist.
In an interview with Sputnik Africa, Dr. Makhubela expressed his belief that the planned expansion of BRICS, which will be on the agenda of the bloc's upcoming summit in South Africa later this month, could play a "fundamental" role in the emergence of a multipolar world.

"What is fundamental about the BRICS expansion is that the multipolar world is definitely emerging," he said. "There's no longer this unipolar world that has been dominated by the United States and its allies."

The former diplomat added that Western governments used to "demonize" anyone who doesn't agree with them or has a "different ideological position."
In this handout photo released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting, in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 1, 2023. Editorial use only, no archive, no commercial use. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 07.08.2023
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Dr. Makhubela sees the expansion of BRICS as a stepping stone towards a more comprehensive international organization.

"I think if the BRICS were to expand, my own view is that in the future, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) would match to form one entity," Makhubela stated. "Because having the BRICS and the SCO running in parallel with the same members would not make sense."

The SCO, already an established international organization with a secretariat, could serve as the foundation for this merger, according to the ex-South African envoy.
"I think the BRICS should serve as a transitional arrangement, in my view, for a solid Shanghai Cooperation organization that includes everyone who is in the BRICS and those who will be joining the BRICS," Makhubela said.

Growing Attention to BRICS

Dr. Makhubela highlighted the increasing attention that African nations are paying to the BRICS group and shed light on the reasons behind this interest.
Earlier this week, South Africa's Foreign Ministry said that nearly two dozen countries had submitted formal applications to join the bloc, while over 30 states had confirmed their attendance at the upcoming summit. Among the applicants for BRICS membership were six African nations – Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal.
Makhubela noted that although South Africa will invite some African leaders to attend the BRICS Summit as observers rather than members, there is a general call for an alternative voice in the world. The group presents an alternative platform, resonating with people seeking new avenues for economic cooperation.

"There's a bigger interest for an alternative voice around the world. And it's not only in Africa, it's all around the world. You'll find the same sentiments - the Saudis want to join, the Argentinians want to join, the Mexicans want to join," Makhubela told Sputnik Africa. "So there's a general appeal for the BRICS because it provides an alternative."

Dr. Makhubela explained that a fundamental aspect that draws attention to BRICS is the establishment of the BRICS Bank and the move away from the dominance of the US dollar in economies.
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He pointed out that economists within the United States also acknowledge that the weaponization of the dollar by successive US governments has been a significant mistake.

"The biggest mistake that has been made by successive American administrations was to weaponize the dollar," the former diplomat said. "Now, the dollar is no longer appealing to anyone, and people are looking for the alternative of interaction away from the dollar. And the BRICS provides the platform for this kind of important economic interaction."

It's worth noting that one of the issues on the agenda of the upcoming BRICS Summit in Johannesburg is the use of national currencies in trade between the bloc's members and some other partners, including African states.
The summit may also consider issuing a common BRICS currency in the near future.
"I hope that the summit would take a decision in terms of the modes of transaction among BRICS members. That's why these people want to join. It's nothing else, it's because of the economic benefits and moving away from the dominance of the dollar," Dr. Makhubela said.

West's Hegemony vs. BRICS

Dr. Makhubela has argued that the West is indeed "terrified" of the five-state grouping due to its achievements and its potential enlargement.
According to him, the dominance of the West in various spheres of life, including economy, sports, and social activities, is being challenged by the emergence of BRICS.
Dr. Makhubela emphasized the example of Russian athletes being marginalized and not being allowed to represent their country, indicating the fear that other countries in BRICS may face similar targeting.

"The West is terrified of BRICS because they have dominated the economy, the social, the sporting and other spheres of life. And now the emergence of the BRICS [...] is sending a chilling message to the West," the former South African envoy said.

The ex-diplomat suggested that the hegemony of the West, especially the US, is waning, and that this is becoming a source of great concern for Western powers. Driven by these fears, senior American administration officials have recently visited Africa to persuade African nations to align themselves with the West.
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Dr. Makhubela also pointed out instances where the United States bypasses African regional bodies in conflict discussions, creating challenges in terms of decision-making processes.
"I mean, even as we are talking now, there's a conflict in Niger. The Americans have started to discuss with the military," he said. "They are not even talking to the African Union because in terms of the decisions that were taken by the Security Council, regional bodies are responsible for peace, for making peace in their own regions."
According to Makhubela, the potential loss of strategic mineral resources in some African countries is a nightmare for the West, amplifying their fear of losing grip and influence.
Meanwhile, the cohesive nature of BRICS, based on principles of mutual respect and cooperation, represents a shift in power dynamics, causing apprehension among Western powers.
"That's why, in consultation, the Americans are running around and doing as they wish. And that's where the big challenge comes from. And this is why the appeal for BRICS by anyone and the fear, of course, of the West that is losing grips in some of these countries," Dr. Makhubela concluded.