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South Africa's Approach to the Xiamen Summit:
Global Summitry and Domestic Politics

Courtney Hallink, BRICS Research Group
September 2, 2017

The 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, comes at a tough time for South African president Jacob Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) as a whole. On 8 August 2017, Zuma narrowly survived his eighth vote of no-confidence, with 198 votes against his removal, 177 in support of it and nine abstentions. The vote of no-confidence comes about a year and a half before the next presidential election, when South Africa's official opposition — the Democratic Alliance — seems to have a greater chance than ever to gain power.

Although Zuma's term as president is nearing an end, with some referring to him as a lame duck, he will likely use his final months in power to try to rebuild the legitimacy of the ANC after the countless corruption scandals, dismal economic growth and absence of any job creation. The Xiamen Summit gives Zuma the chance to take bold actions that will help to deliver what South African citizens really want: job-creating economic growth.

Although domestic politics will dictate Zuma's approach to the 2017 BRICS summit, during a time of low growth for many of the BRICS members, including Russia and Brazil, any efforts by the South African president to foster economic and job growth will likely be favourably received by the other BRICS leaders. The world will have to wait until the close of the summit on 5 September to see whether Zuma was able to exploit the opportunity to improve his stance and that of the ANC at home, or if he is really a lame duck.

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Courtney HallinkCourtney Hallink is a research analyst at the BRICS Research Group, G20 Research Group and the G7 Research Group, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. A graduate of the University of Toronto with a major in international relations and a double minor in European studies and political science, she is currently engaged in research at the University of Cape Town. She was previously an intern for the United Kingdom Trade and Investment sector at the British Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica. Courtney has a passion for social development and is particularly interested in sub-Saharan Africa. Her research focuses on South Africa and the BRICS, the G20's governance of Africa-related issues, and climate change and gender equality. Follow her at @c_hallink.

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