South Africa’s third biggest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), has formally written to the BRICS heads of state, urging them to boycott the upcoming summit in the country later this month.
The EFF’s stance on the boycott follows South Africa’s failure to guarantee protection for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was initially expected to attend the summit in Johannesburg physically but cancelled last month.
The summit is a meeting between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on global politics and economy. The watershed summit is expected to discuss the admission of new members and a BRICS currency to facilitate trade among member states outside the US dollar.
Putin became the centre of attention ahead of the summit following a warrant of arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC), with the United States of America (USA) pressuring South African authorities to arrest him should he set foot in the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa eventually yielded to the pressure and asked Putin to consider attending the summit virtually, resulting in his pulling out.
“The communication urges BRICS leaders to consider a boycott of the summit, particularly in response to the South African Government’s decision to effectively block Russia’s President Vladimir Putin from attending, under irrational pressure and bullying by the ICC.
“The EFF emphasizes the importance of solidarity among BRICS nations and cautions against succumbing to neo-colonial pressures from the West. Highlighting the fact that BRICS represents an alternative global order, accounting for more than 40% of the world’s population and nearly 25% of the global GDP, the EFF warns against any undermining of this vital bloc,” said EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo.
Sinawo said BRICS countries needed to stand in solidarity.
“The communication is a call to action, urging the BRICS nations to uphold the principles upon which they were founded: mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, and non-interference. The absence of any member, particularly due to political manoeuvring, threatens the unity, strength, and future influence of BRICS on the global stage.
“The EFF requests for the BRICS leaders to stand together against external pressures and to consider the implications of their attendance or non-attendance at the summit. The EFF believes that this matter is of utmost importance, reflecting not just the integrity and unity of the BRICS organization, but also the future direction of global politics and economics,” said Thambo.
He added that BRICS “embodies a vision for a fairer, more equitable world and a steadfast commitment to resisting the dictates of super imperialism.”
The drama surrounding Putin’s physical attendance at the summit related to the ICC arrest warrant issued against him for alleged violation of human rights in Ukraine.
Putin has been accused of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children in November last year in the middle of Russia’s military operations against Ukraine, a claim Russia and its allies in the global South dismissed as bogus.
On May 30, the Democratic Alliance (DA) applied in the Pretoria High Court, requesting a declaratory order for Putin to be arrested should he attend the BRICS Summit.
The court ordered that Ramaphosa’s affidavit in the matter be made public.
In the affidavit, Ramaphosa told the court that South Africa could not afford to arrest Putin because such action could result in a war with Russia.
When Putin withdrew from the summit, the EFF said they were not surprised that he had pulled out of the BRICS summit. The party said the hype around Putin was part of the West’s attempt to undermine South Africa’s sovereignty and independent foreign policy.