BRICS Parliamentary Forum aims to shape global landscape with legal power and collaborative vision

Deputy President Paul Mashatile officially opened the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum on Wednesday. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Deputy President Paul Mashatile officially opened the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum on Wednesday. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 27, 2023


The BRICS Parliamentary Forum has the potential to effect change on a global stage, but legislative changes alone are neither enough nor sufficient, said South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile as he officially opened the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum on Wednesday.

Mashatile told more than 200 delegates attending the Forum that they required a capable, civic-minded, and ethical bureaucracy which had the capacity and commitment to drive the existing legislative framework to achieve its ends.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Parliamentary Forum, hosted at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre in Johannesburg, saw the highest echelons of parliamentary chambers, committees, and parliamentarian groups from the BRICS nations under one roof.

The BRICS PF Assembly has evolved since its inaugural meeting in Moscow, Russia, in 2015. Initially held parallel to BRICS Heads of State Summits or on the sidelines of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) meetings, it soon became evident that separate recognition was necessary to highlight its importance within the BRICS system.

The 9th BRICS PF Assembly revolved around the theme of "Harnessing Multilateralism and Parliamentary Diplomacy to Deepen BRICS and Africa Partnership for Accelerated Implementation of the Africa Free-Trade Agreement."

The chosen theme again underscored the commitment to promoting a more inclusive, integrated, and prosperous Africa. It also highlighted Africa's significance in South Africa's foreign policy.

“The BRICS nations have a significant opportunity to drive change and shape a new global order while upholding multilateralism as a foundational principle of international relations,” said South African Parliament Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

She explained that the involvement of diverse political parties and ideologies within parliaments, participating through platforms such as the BRICS PF, ensures that the aspirations and desires of their respective nations are addressed.

Hosting the BRICS summit amplified South Africa's engagement in global affairs, particularly concerning the reform of multilateral institutions, Mapisa-Nqakula added.

In his opening address, Mashatile said the BRICS PF had the possibility to exert change on a global and unprecedented scale.

“For starters, BRICS has focused the imagination of the world’s population beyond the citizens of its member states. In and of itself, this is a good thing.

“However, we should not be surprised when this success factor attracts negative responses from some actors in the world, despite the fact that BRICS is not opposed to any state parties or groups. Instead, we seek a peaceful and just world of equitable resource distribution,” he said.

Mashatile told the parliamentarians of the BRICS nations that the single most powerful instrument they had at their disposal was their command of law-making.

Through coordinated efforts, he said they could impact positively on more than a quarter of the world’s population by introducing far-reaching progressive legislation and repealing laws that did not improve the lives of the people.

“One suggestion you may want to ponder over is that we should immediately conduct a skills audit relative to the development imperatives of each member state and bring together institutions of higher learning among us to respond to the skills challenge,” he advised.

The Assembly meeting is also expected to include a debate on the outcomes of the 15th BRICS Summit. On Thursday, the BRICS PF is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding among the countries, following discussions on BRICS and Africa Partnership, energy issues, climate change, and legislative mobilisation, as well as peace and security in BRICS countries.

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