The African National Congress (ANC) has defended Iran’s inclusion in the BRICS bloc of countries, criticizing political parties that oppose it as hypocritical. This response came during a parliamentary debate on the recent BRICS Parliamentary Forum hosted by South Africa.
Political parties in Parliament remain divided on the success of the forum, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) accusing the ANC of cosying up to nations with questionable backgrounds.
The criticisms of the South African delegation’s performance at the September BRICS parliamentary gathering in Johannesburg include poor attendance, lack of preparedness, inconsistent decision-making, and issues with time-keeping.
One of the key points of contention raised by the DA’s Dave Bryant is South Africa’s acceptance of Iran as a new BRICS partner, given its human rights track record, particularly concerning women and girls. Bryant argues that referring to Iran as progressive is absurd.
However, the ANC’s Bheki Hadebe countered these claims by pointing out the hypocrisy of the opposition parties. Hadebe highlighted that the Freedom Front Plus and DA, who are complaining about Iran’s inclusion, are supporting Israel, which raises questions about consistency and fairness.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)’s Narend Singh cautioned against excluding potential trade relations with certain countries. He emphasized the importance of considering the economic benefits that can be gained from engaging with different nations.
The Freedom Front Plus also warned about the potential imbalances in agreements with China, highlighting the need for African nations to ensure that they benefit equally from such partnerships.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reiterated their call for the end of the use of the US dollar as the global currency of trade. They argue that relying on the US dollar perpetuates economic inequality and disadvantages developing nations.
The debate over Iran’s inclusion in the BRICS bloc reflects broader discussions around the criteria for membership and the values that should be upheld. While some parties question Iran’s human rights record, others argue for the importance of engaging with a diverse range of nations for economic and diplomatic purposes.
It is crucial for South Africa and other BRICS member countries to carefully consider the implications of including nations with controversial backgrounds. Balancing economic interests with human rights concerns is a complex task that requires thorough deliberation and clear principles.