Corporate SA refuses to pay for political PR, but…Government splurges R75m on 5 000 BRICS cops…

Twelve out of thirteen big businesses turned down requests from Parliament to provide sponsorship to the ninth BRICS Parliamentary Forum held in Johannesburg last week. “It is absolutely outrageous that the incumbent government still thinks that it’s appropriate to be hosting these lavish talk shops that essentially disincentivise our Western partners from investing in this country – and we see that now having a direct impact on what corporate South Africa is willing to associate themselves with,” says Emma Louise Powell, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operations. It has also emerged that the Government spent over R75 million to deploy more than 5 000 cops to the fifteenth annual BRICS Summit in August. “…all of these foreign delegations…bring with them their own security contingent. So essentially these more than 5,000 police officers were deployed to keep our ANC…safe while people across South Africa continue to deal with rampant violence, rising crime rates and a scourge of crime that doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon,” says Powell. She also describes the “notable disinterest” from BRICS member states in the “shambolic” forum that “achieved altogether absolutely nothing”.Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:09 – Introductions
  • 00:30 – Emma Louise Powell on the extravagance of the most recent BRICS summit
  • 02:53 – On what went down at the summit
  • 05:56 – How many big businesses were approached and how many declined
  • 09:25 – This BRICS parliamentary forum was an expensive waste of time
  • 12:28 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the Interview

Twelve out of thirteen big companies turned down requests from Parliament to provide sponsorships to the ninth BRICS Parliamentary Forum that was held in Johannesburg last week.

Meanwhile, the Government spent over R75 million to deploy more than 5 000 cops to the fifteenth annual BRICS Summit in August.

This has emerged from a BizNews interview with Emma Louise Powell, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperations.

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“There were 13 companies that were approached for what they called resource mobilisation, which is essentially another word for sponsorships. There were 13 companies, MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, interestingly, a European company, Volkswagen, Adapt IT, Nedbank, Accenture, Brand SA, Petro SA, Distil, Makro. And of those 13 companies, a number of them gave overt responses where they declined. Companies, of course, like Volkswagen and Telkom and Nedbank. And a number of companies just didn’t respond. 

“There was one company that provided it, it was a fan park, essentially. There was a social tour that was organised for the Friday where the delegation was taken to places like Freedom Park and Lion Parks and things. And there was one organisation that provided 80 tickets. The remaining 12 of the 13 companies declined. 

“And I think that is indicative of concerns and potentially reservations around how useful it is from an economic and a trade perspective for South Africa to be cozying up to nations like the likes of Iran and of course Russia.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged from a parliamentary question – posed by the DA and answered by Police Minister Bheki Cele in The National Council of Provinces –  that for the actual BRICS Summit itself, more than R75 million was spent on deploying police officers to that summit. “Now, I think it’s also important to point out that all of these foreign delegations, the president of, of course, China, Brazil, India, They all bring with them their own security contingents. So essentially these more than 5,000 police officers were deployed to keep our ANC…safe while people across South Africa continue to deal with rampant violence, rising crime rates and a scourge of crime that doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon.”

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Powell says there was also an “extravagant “gala dinner on the first night of last week’s forum. “It was obviously intended to be a showcase of unity and camaraderie. The dinner started over an hour late. India joined for a few minutes and then went and had dinner elsewhere. Iran failed to attend. Only a handful of Chinese representatives showed up. Saudi Arabia was notably absent.”

Despite the no-expenses-spared attitude of the South African government, Powell says there was “quite underwhelming representation” from BRICS member states which meant that the forum was “in our view, little more than a propaganda talk shop”.

She says the Russian delegation failed to arrive, and the Brazilian delegation only sent two delegates.

“…so there was notable disinterest from member states in this shambolic event whilst millions were spent.”

Powell believes the forum achieved “altogether absolutely nothing”. 

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“Parliament of course paid for everybody’s hotel accommodation, two extravagant dinners, meal vouchers, huge amounts of security, pomp and ceremony. 

“And in light of where we are from a financial perspective in South Africa, we’re sitting at the edge of a fiscal cliff. We see what’s been going on with SASSA grants, the Post Bank. We’re soon going to be in a position in the next three to four years where if we don’t rein in our spending, we will begin defaulting on government debt. 

“And in light of this, it is absolutely outrageous that the incumbent government still thinks that it’s appropriate to be hosting these lavish talk shops that essentially disincentive our Western partners from investing in this country and we see that now having a direct impact on what corporate South Africa is willing to associate themselves with.”

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