你所描述的停电情况，是由于投资延迟以及在维护和产能建设方面投资不足造成的。新产能刚刚建成，在效率等方面存在许多挑战。但是，现在有大量投资正在用于重建我们的能源基础，其中包括来自中国的公司。顺便提一下，即使在停电频发的情况下，南非仍然在通过所谓的“南部非洲电力联营”（Southern African Power Pool）向邻国出售电力。
Guancha: In the upcoming BRICS summit in your country, President Putin was slated to visit South Africa for the BRICS summit, but Putin and President Ramaphosa had recently announced that by mutual agreement, Russia will instead send for Minister Lavrov. Given that Russia had previously been reportedly adamant that Putin attend in person, what do you think caused this change and was it because Ramaphosa managed to convince Putin that actually coming here might be a bad idea? Some have pointed to the US role in this and claims that this represents a US foreign policy victory. What do you think of this?
Ngcaweni: The South African government stated that president Putin, by mutual agreement is not coming for Russia. And in the same statement, it is stated that Russia remains a full member of BRICS, active participant in BRICS. I'm yet to read a statement from any BRICS member state that doubts the credibility of BRICS as a result of that. The spirits are high in South Africa is the great anticipation for the Summits. Many countries already are sending delegations. We have had over six BRICS summits already taken place in South Africa. I hosted a conference myself of BRICS Schools of government two weeks ago, 1100 online participants, 250 people present, 50 papers presented at the conference, participants from Sao Paulo to St. Petersburg, New Delhi and and everywhere else.
So it's a very exciting moment in the south Africa, at the moment, I think as our minister of Foreign Affairs have stated before, South Africa takes his own position on foreign relations matters. I'm sure you've seen videos of my foreign minister, reasserting South Africa's position in this regard, and South Africa wouldn't make a decision because it has been influenced by another country. I think we've been very emphatic on the non-aligned issue. And our president has been part of the Africa Initiative, all those African heads of states that went to Russia, even recently he was there. South Africa's position is public. We look forward to hosting a Great BRICS Summit. It's the largest summit actually in recent memory.
Guancha: South Africa’s neutrality seems to be displeasing to the west to say the least. They probably believe that actually you, South Africa, should belong as part of the west. And maybe the statements from South Africa over the past year has received such a strong reaction from the west because this went against their assumption.
Ngcaweni: South Africa was part of the non-aligned movement from the beginning. The African National Congress has been engaging with the Non-aligned movement even before it became a government in 1994. It has been very consistent in that regard. In fact, if you remember, they were at the conference in Bandung. The apartheid government was not represented there, it was the leaders of the liberation movement. I mentioned Bandung because if you think about Asia, Africa, solidarity and Latin Americans or Global South as a whole, Bandung is an important moment where I the yellow star of China meets the Black Star which is Africa.
So there has been a consistency on the non- aligned stance. Of course, different parties to the conflict have got their own views and wishes and try to have as many people support their views. Most important to South Africa is calling for peaceful resolution of disputes, which is a necessary condition for focusing on national development.
Guancha: As you say, the global south will pick its own course and not be dragged into this new cold war, confrontation, however you might want to call it, but if we look back to the Cold War at South Africa specifically, South Africa was basically turned into a frontline country of the Cold War because the then apartheid government was basically backed by the US for a long time, while the ANC also received some support from the Soviet Union. So how can South Africa avoid being made into a frontline in any new confrontation against its will?
Ngcaweni: Let me tell you something. At times, governments can take certain positions about situations in other countries, but that does not always translate to how the public or the people feel about it. And I'm stating this because even at that time where America, UK, in Israel did not support the idea of declaring apartheid crime against humanity. But in the UK and in the US, there was an anti-apartheid movement there. At some point, the leadership of the ANC was in London even as the administration of the UK the time was refusing to condemn what was happening in South Africa is terrorism.
So I personally make that distinction where governments can take particular positions, but as is the case here, you read every statement, whether it's a global development initiative, BRI, FOCAC, and so on, the emphasis from the leadership of the People's Republic of China is building cultural ties and people to people contact, which means those ties will go beyond what an administration may think. That is why I'm saying to you, in spite of what may be going on at a level of political leadership, there are Chinese who enjoy certain American products. There are Americans who enjoy certain Chinese products, because that is how people and markets feel about those countries, although governments may take a particular direction. And so the idea of investing in people to people contact is fundamental, because you can avoid wars and conflicts by having those strong ties.
This the case everywhere in the world.
Guancha: I guess the concept of the global south has changed a lot since the Bandung conference, which is like more than half a century ago. Since that time, the Soviet Union has collapsed and America has gone from the Cold War , to becoming the only superpower, and then now, engaging a new Cold War with China. So what do you think these shifts in the broader geopolitical landscape means for the concept of the Global South？
Ngcaweni: In an academic environment we will elaborate on how managing geopolitics and sustaining your relevance and impact depends on your ability to manage contradictions, so between China and the US, there's been trade wars and now there is a concept of Silicon war, but Chinese people continue to consume American products and American people continue to consume Chinese products, even when there are extreme positions taken by governments. there is a way of managing those contradictions and that is why there's been an exchange at a very high level. Whatever walls are there, those must not interrupt the momentum of the global south towards achieving economic prosperity.
And the global south appreciates this. We trade with the US, our second largest trading partner after China. We trade with India. We trade with Brazil. South Africans love Brazilian shoes. In this calendar year, for example, Chinese and Indian cars made cars are in the top ten of the most sold new cars in South Africa. South Africans’ taste for Chinese vehicles is growing.
The Global South needs to also trade with itself, but also trade with the global North. We need investment within the global South and investment from North-South relations. I am yet to read a statement from the leaders of the global south saying they do not want to trade or to have relation in the global north. The Global South is assessing itself and taking care of the needs of their own people without necessarily saying we are cutting the ties with the global North. I have not read a statement like that.Guancha: During his recent visit to South Africa, China’s now Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called on the global south to “expand their voice” in a changing world order. How do you think we can make this happen?
Ngcaweni: Well, what is the important for the Global South is for them to speak with one voice when it comes to the agenda of peace, national development, fair and equitable multilateralism. Once we find common ground, it becomes relatively easier to design a program of action and implement it. So for example, the Global South has a view that the multilateral system need to be transformed, to be representative and equitable, and that the multilateral system must be responsive to the needs of the whole global community, in particular developing countries—emerging countries. That is important because from that you launch a program of action, you get the response to these challenges. In fact if you look at how countries in the Global South are engaging with BRICS, that is the sign of the hope they have that the BRICS platform offers that opportunity of a fair and equitable and a representative multilateralism that many countries in the Global South are aiming for. You must remember that it is not all countries of the Global South that enjoy unlimited free trade with the Global North, that have got affordable credit lines with the Global North, that got easy people to people contact with the Global North.
Certainly I read every statement from our foreign minister, from cabinet, from our president and these statements are very consistent and that is why South Africa, as a host of this BRICS (summit), we have invited so many heads of states, because we understand the responsibility that is carried by countries who are in BRICS, not only to represent themselves, but also to champion the cause of development and the aspirations of their own neighbors. No country can develop on its own as an island. It has never happened in history and it should not happen in future, which is why it's important to build this solidarity.
Guancha: Part of the voice of a country, is not just in terms of economics, but also in terms of soft power. How do you think the Global South can enhance their soft power in the world—in a world that is dominated by Western narratives, at least as of right now.
Ngcaweni: So my reading of statements from different countries in the Global South is that they are asserting themselves. They are asserting their sovereignty. They are asserting their national interest. They are making decisions on who and how to align (with) in pursuit of their national interest, as well as regional interest. Because the world is changing very rapidly. In South Africa, when you talk about Beijing, people think we are talking about women's rights and struggles because of the Beijing Conference. The same is happening for other marginalized countries and communities who are stating, making claims, they are being assertive, they're clearer. And of course, it's good to have organizations like BRICS that can support, can anchor this international solidarity that is emerging, towards a just and equitable world. In South Africa's foreign policy, we use the following words and these are very pertinent. We say we want to build a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world. And that is a goal and thread in foreign policy decisions, of South Africa.
Guancha: During the aforementioned meeting, Wang Yi had also said that China supports Africa achieving Agenda 2063. How will Africa achieve this ambitious agenda, especially in the face of many challenges, financial, political, social, etc.
Ngcaweni: There's a lot of developments happening in different countries in the African continent. This is encouraging even for me as a public servant, that when I read statements from BRICS and BRICS member states, they do mention Agenda 2063. They do mention sustainable development codes, which means these multilateral platforms like BRICS have read statements from the various ASEAN leaders when they meet, they talk in supports of the SDGs and so on. This agenda of development is pertinent in many multilateral platforms, especially involving the Global South. That is step number one towards Africa realizing some of its goals. I say that, because what do you need? You need capital, you need expertise. And when you have a global community that supports your agenda, it unlocks resources, capital, it unlocks investments, it unlocks trade, it unlocks skills as well. So for many African countries, Agenda 2063 for them means they can develop and invest in infrastructure, social economy infrastructure in their countries. But for many of them, Agenda 2063 also means they can trade freely with a global community. And in particular, they can sell high value added products, which means that if people in the Global South are investing, there's lots of investment opportunities, then you know there are markets, and those products can be processed in the African continent and they can be sold globally.
Guancha: You mentioned two things that they will need. One is capital and one is expertise. Both of these feel like they might come under either direct or indirect challenge from the policies of western countries, because Wall Street sucks in lots of capital, also much of the global south has ran brain drains against the western countries, where the brightest of the young people end up in America or in Europe. So in the face of these challenges, how would the summit agenda be achieved?
Ngcaweni: Let me give you an example. I was recently in Kenya, in Mombasa. I saw Kenyans running a very efficient port in Kenya, in Mombasa. But I observed that at the port is that part in Mombasa is among the most efficient ports in the African continent, and is run by Kenyans. And I saw young people, they took us on a tour there. I was traveling with very senior leaders from South Africa. We were doing training at the Kenya School of government. I saw Kenyans running a very sophisticated port where they have standards that say no ship must wait to offload for more than three days. They also run a railway line using local people, they’ve built some roads with South African investment, Chinese expertise and so on. So whilst there would be countries (that have) experienced brain drain, in many instances when capital is mobilized, there's a clear project pipeline, people do go back to work on those sophisticated projects, just as the Chinese came back from the US to work in Iqiyi, in engineering, in space and so on. If the Chinese will come back and be part of the space program and leave American universities, Africans would do the same.
Guancha: What you describe, that reminds me of the BRI, which is China sharing its development path to other countries around the world. And certainly in Africa, many project are part of BRI and can help with your problem. It could help in terms of reversing the brain drains through the sharing of the of China's experience as you describe. So how much of a role has BRI played in its last 10 years? Its come to its 10th anniversary. And what do you expect for the next 10 years?
Ngcaweni: So let me just emphasize one point with regards to BRI. BRI today and BRI nine years ago, it's two different things. My private criticism of BRI seven years ago and so on was that there was very poor communication around it by all parties involved. And that now there has been a major improvement in the communications around BRI projects and the management of stakeholders. In any country, if you want to build a railway line and you do not engage local communities, they will resist. If you want to build a railway line and they don't see value, they will resist. If you want to build a dam and major pipelines and local people don't believe that they will now have access to water, they will resent or resist. So BRI today is in a better position because there has been more deliberate way of communicating what the BRI is and what its benefits are.
Let me tell you my other controversial private position. BRI projects like all others are based on contracts. Contracts are between two or more parties. If I am selling you a phone and we sign a contract and I tell you that it is one hundred RMB, and these are the terms and conditions, you have the responsibility to say, no, this phone cannot be one hundred, it's eighty; you need to negotiate the term and conditions of the contract. Africa, like all other countries, must gain confidence and expertise in contract management. People are now becoming more aware, more assertive, they’re negotiating better terms, they are managing stakeholders differently today than they did many years ago. And that is actually encouraging. When I was in Europe I read in a newspaper that Italy is thinking of pulling out from the BRI, so I was asking myself, what does pulling out mean, if there's already a project pipeline and commitments have been made and so on?
I think that many countries need to gain negotiating capability to do that, because people sign bad contracts without negotiating because there are different pressures, they want to see equipment moving next week. Communicate, manage the contracts well, and then negotiate contracts that are winning for everybody.
Guancha: Certainly engagement reduces conflict, but there are certain countries and forces that want to at least reduce engagement. Huawei is a company that has been frequently targeted by the US sanctions. Recently, Huawei launched an Innovation Center in South Africa. This has also made the target of criticism by the US, as well as the naval military drills between South Africa, China and Russia earlier this year, were also subject to criticism. So what do you think is a reason for their criticism of South Africa?
Ngcaweni: Our president went to open that innovation center. Huawei has grown significantly in this market over the past 15 years and they're bringing technology and skills and so on and that is part now of the South African technology ecosystem and it has invested in the country itself. Many South Africans carry Huawei phones, because the market has developed a taste for that. South Africans embrace the investment made by them and is why they trust those brands. And of course, because of geostrategic reasons, they would be criticism. All I can tell you is it would be very difficult to tell ordinary South Africans not to buy a Huawei phone. It should be very difficult if consumers have made them choice, regardless of what government might like, it would be very difficult unless you put trade barriers to tell people not to buy certain products, unless you block them at the port. If they think it’s of quality, if they think they can afford, they’ll buy it.
Guancha: Part of Agenda 2063 includes the African concept of African Renaissance, which is championed by South Africa, especially by former president Mbeki. Could you describe it briefly and what has been the progress there so far?
Ngcaweni: Well, it is the renaissance or the revival of the African continent. This concept has been there for 20 years now, and echoes throughout the continent. If you read Agenda 2063, it is precisely about the revival. The renaissance of Africa involves amongst others but not limited to: one, a skills revolution, getting young people through education and training system, including vocational and tertiary education, gain advance skills. That is key to renaissance. And in many other countries, certainly in South Africa, if you look at the rate of participation of young people in higher education, the number quadrupled. The biggest pressures on the state is to expand financial support for young people to go to the system in South Africa. Children of domestic workers, of cleaners, of waiters and waitresses of taxi drivers are going through higher education which is important for equity. Here in China today, many African students come from very poor countries, they obtain higher education for skills, they've got contract with their governments and they go back. It is building the network industries in Africa. Network industries include railway line, telecommunications, roads, rail and so on. The latest statistics on the penetration of cellular technology in the African continent is amazing, in some countries in Africa, people carry more than two phones. In Africa there are countries like Kenya in South Africa, Rwanda where people are making cashless transactions and so on. That's part of the renaissance in the continent. Renaissance also involves Africa participating as an equal member in a transformed multilateral system and that's why Africans embrace BRICS and they are happy when they get invited to engage in BRICS.
If you read the FOCAC and you read the African renaissance, Agenda 2063 and what the AU represents, you see there is resonance. If FOCAC was not supporting that agenda of renaissance in Africa which is currently expressed in the Agenda 2063, I doubt that Africa leaders will join FOCAC. Because these forums that are responsive to the aspirations of Africans, they respond positively to them. And of course, African renaissance also means that there must be a fair trade. And there's many African countries who have products that struggle with market access because there are certain restrictions that are put by various countries.
Guancha: You've described some of the progress. However, there's lately been some major setbacks to the cause of African development or South African development specifically. Other than the grain issues, which we've talked about previously, there's also energy crisis. South Africa has been contending with rolling blackouts. What caused this and how can these issues be fixed?
Ngcaweni: Fortunately, you read the through the books of the New Development Bank or the BRICS Bank as it is called, you'll see that over $4 billion rents has been loaned into South Africa and there is 12 projects at least underway currently. And just under half of those are energy projects. There are also a lot of work going on in Mozambique now, with natural gases being discovered and work happening there. In Nigeria, they've just finished one of the largest oil refinery there which will be very important for the supply of fuel in that region.
What you described in South Africa is because of delayed investments and under-investment in maintenance and in building capacity. The new capacity that has been built came a bit late, there are many challenges of efficiencies and so on. But there's massive investment going towards now rebuilding the our energy capacity and we've got Chinese companies there.
By the way, even with rolling blackouts, South Africa still distributes or sells electricity to its neighboring countries because of what is called the Southern African Power Pool.
Guancha: How will investor make the returns back on these investments?
Ngcaweni: Well, energy is for sale in South Africa. It's a cost-reflective tariff. It's not for free. The government subsidize electricity for poor households, but not a hundred percent.
So that is why Chinese firms, Saudi firms, firms from Europe and elsewhere are investing in new generation capacity in South Africa, because they understand that there is the energy market.
Guancha: South Africa's global geopolitical importance has skyrocketed this past year to a level that has hasn't been seen in decades. What do you think is a reason for this? Do you view this sudden global attention to your country as a good thing? Would this attention recede somewhat after the BRICS summit? And if South Africa wants to be the center of global attention, how might you maintain this level of global relevance?
Ngcaweni: I have never been in a meeting myself or read a statement by government of South Africa saying, we declare that from tomorrow we want to be the center of global relationships. It is however the involvement of South Africa in multilateralism that results in people making that conclusion, because South Africa identifies itself with just causes.
President Mandela said in 1994, when we won freedom, two important statements, that South Africa is back as a member of the global community. And South Africa would not be the skunk of the world or the naughty child of the world. That was significant because it was defining of a foreign policy stance that we are back as a player, and a positive player. Number two, Mandela said, our freedom is incomplete until Palestine is free. That spirit permeates in various decisions of governments. As our president recently was part of a delegation of leaders going to Ukraine and to Russia. He was in fact carrying out what President Mandela said, that here could be not development without peace and that there can be a peaceful resolution of conflict. You may know that when there was conflict in Ireland, South Africa played a very pivotal role in that. During the conflict in the DRC in Burundi and so on, South Africa played a very crucial role. South Africa is also involved in the mediation efforts in the South Sudan, Lesotho and many other parts of the world. This is a message you hear at BRICS that this development must be equitable, must be representative and that it must be felt by the people in these countries and the regions. People say, South Africa, you are going to G20, but we are carrying the African agenda mandate. South Africa must carry that. Remember, the South Africa is the largest beneficiary of global solidarity to end the apartheid movement.
Secondly, South Africa is the biggest beneficiary of the AIDS pandemic solidarity where the global community supported. There is a reason why when there was COVID, South Africa adopted a different position to other countries in the world. And their position was based on the fundamental principle of solidarity, that there could be pandemics and epidemics anywhere, everywhere in the world. What matters is how do you respond as a government, as a country to that. And if we've been beneficiary of this solidarity, on apartheid and HIV and AIDS and so on, we believe that platforms like BRICS are useful mechanism that you can use to mobilize international solidarity, deal with problems of development in many parts of the world. And that is why our president is bringing Africa into BRICS and importantly, none of the BRICS member states said don't bring Africa into BRICS. They are going to embrace Africa. The leadership of BRICS appreciated South Africa carries that responsibility, that torch of development in the continent. And we believe that we can build a fairer system. And this is great that the leaders of BRICS understand and appreciate that they are going into a meeting of BRICS Africa. As I said earlier, this would be one of the largest multilateral meetings in recent memory.