Not one of the five world and regional leaders who formed the first group to phone new South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday to hold preliminary discussions with, and to congratulate, him came from a Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group country. Two of the leaders were African, two European and one Middle Eastern. They were (in alphabetical order by country), Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Angolan President João Lourenço, Botswana President Ian Khama, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May.
The first Brics leader scheduled to call President Ramaphosa was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. French President Emmanuel Macron was also to hold a phone discussion with South Africa’s new leader on Monday. Apart from South Africa, only two other Brics countries can be regarded as full democracies: India and Brazil. In South Africa, former President Jacob Zuma was popularly seen as being particularly close to his Chinese and Russian counterparts. (Over the weekend, Brazilian President Michel Temer was heavily involved in dealing with a public security crisis in Rio de Janeiro; law and order is primarily a State responsibility in Brazil, but on Friday Temer ordered the Brazilian Army to take command of law and order in Rio and also announced that he will soon create a Federal Ministry of Public Security.)
In its press release about the calls, the Presidency stated “President Ramaphosa has warmly welcomed the international interest shown in South Africa and its renewal, and expressed the hope that South Africa would strengthen its relations with partners in various parts of the world, as it continues to enhance its attractiveness as an investment destination and trade partner. This would create more opportunities for South African businesses and contribute positively to the critical effort to create more jobs in the economy.”
According to the news website Sharjah24 – Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are both member states of the United Arab Emirates (UAE); indeed, Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE – Sheikh Mohammed “lauded the UAE’s strong relations with South Africa and said he was looking forward to furthering co-operation in all fields for the benefit of the two friendly peoples. He also wished the people of South Africa further progress and prosperity. President Ramaphosa thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his noble feelings towards the people of South Africa and wished the UAE and its people continued progress.”
In its note about the call between Presidents Lourenço and Ramaphosa, Angola’s Ministry of External Relations reported that the two leaders displayed a desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation and the friendly ties between their two peoples. “During the conversation, João Lourenço invited the South African President to officially visit, in the near future, Angola, to which the South African President responded in the form of an invitation for the President of Angola to also make an official visit to South Africa.” The invitations were, the Ministry stated, accepted. Diplomatic channels will now arrange the respective dates for the visits.
In London, a spokesperson for 10 Downing Street (Prime Minister May’s office) stated that the “Prime Minister called President Cyril Ramaphosa this [Sunday] afternoon to congratulate him on his recent appointment. Ramaphosa welcomed the call which followed their short discussion at the World Economic Forum, and the Prime Minister extended an invitation for him to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April. President Ramaphosa confirmed that he looked forward to attending and using the opportunity to discuss deepening the UK-South Africa relationship, including by building on trade ties and working together on South Africa’s transformational agenda.”