Pro and anti-BRICS marchers flex muscles in front of Indian Consulate in Durban

Sihle Mavuso (IOL News) 26 August 2023

While global leaders are gathering at Sandton in Johannesburg for the ongoing BRICS Summit, some 500 kilometres away in Durban, two groups are flexing their muscles over the global formation of some of the largest economies in the world.

One group was against having the BRICS Summit, calling it a "club of the corrupt", while the other group said the formation is needed and South Africa is already reaping benefits by being part of it.

The anti-BRICS marchers were gathered under the banner of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, led by Desmond D'sa.

Their march started near the Durban ICC and moved to the Indian Consulate at Kingsmead via Masabalala Yengwa Avenue (MNR) on Wednesday morning.

They were to deliver their memorandum to the consulate, but when they were a few metres away, they were stopped by the police, and a heated verbal confrontation ensued between D'sa and the top brass of the police. That was after they were told that they couldn’t move past the Standard Bank regional head office gates, as no one was available to take their memorandum into the heavily fortified Indian Consulate.

Among the marchers were exiled Indian nationals who were pro-Kashmir independence and accused the Indian government of genocide and suppression in the territory India has been fighting over with Pakistan since 1947.

They called for Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister who is attending the BRICS Summit, to be arrested, as they claim that the alleged genocide and suppression are happening under his watch.

"We are here to protest, we are here to reject the presence, and we are here to say that the presence of Prime Minister Modi is not welcomed in the land of human rights champions like Nelson Mandela, Sol Plaatje, Ahmed Kathrada, and Oliver Tambo.

"This land is a champion of human rights," said Saliman Khan, founder and chairman of the South Africa-Khashmir Action Group.

In the same group were protesters carrying pro-Ukrainian banners and flags. Some of the messages on the banners included a demand for Russia to return Ukrainian children taken during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The war started in February 2022, and Ukraine is being supported with arms and finances by most Western countries that are members of Nato.

Also taking flak during the anti-BRICS march was Jindal, an Indian mining company that is attempting to mine iron ore in Melmoth in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The protesters were chanting slogans saying "Voetsek Jindal Voetsek, Go away Jindal, Go away" and were told they were not welcomed in the area as their presence would wreak havoc.

Jindal previously told IOL that it has followed all protocols required for it to start the mine and has a clear plan to resettle the families to be moved.

There were also banners about the silencing of journalists and the use of fossil fuels in Africa.

After the anti-BRICS protesters were blocked from proceeding further, a pro-BRICS group emerged from the grounds in front of the consulate, chanting, "We want BRICS."

Among them was a popular KwaZulu-Natal philanthropist and adopted Zulu Prince, Ishwar Ramlutchman, who is also known as Prince Mabheka Zulu.

Ramlutchman, who is the founder of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, said BRICS is a much-needed global formation.

"The initiative of BRICS, especially the partnership between our government and various other countries, is so important because I have personally seen the good friendship that was fostered between His Majesty King Goodwill KaBhekuzulu and Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, sending implements and tractors to Nongoma six years ago.

"In these partnerships like BRICS, rural communities benefit a lot, and we people on the ground are touched by this," he said. pro and anti brics marchers flex muscles in front of indian consulate in durban

Environmental alliance hosts protest march ahead of BRICS summit
Yoshini Perumal (Southlands Sun) 26 August 2023

SDCEA hopes that the march will highlight the need to develop Melmoth and Eshowe.
A ‘BREAK the BRICS day of action’ protest march ahead of the BRICS summit will be hosted by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) today, August 23. The march will begin from Speakers Corner (45 Bram Fischer Road) to the office of the Consulate General of India (1 Kingsmead Boulevard Road) from 09:00 to 12:00. BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world’s leading emerging market economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The BRICS mechanism aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation. It also aims at contributing significantly to the development of humanity and establishing a more equitable and fair world.

SDCEA’s oil, gas and livelihoods project officer, Janeira Reddy said, “We want to raise awareness about the Ukraine war, the Jindal mine, and highlight the need to develop Melmoth and Eshowe.

“BRICS governments often use radical rhetoric alluding to anti-imperialism, and in this year’s summit, they will undoubtedly impress upon the rest of Africa that their corporations offer better investments in infrastructure, mining, energy, and agriculture than traditional northern multinationals. “The prospect that South Africa ‘presents a gateway for investment on the continent’ could leave Africa overwhelmed by BRICS corporations and is indicative that the trajectory of the 21st century scramble for Africa has already begun.

“Africa’s resource curse will attract billions of dollars worth of BRICS infrastructure developments. The people of Melmoth and Eshowe are fighting against Jindal Mine wanting to relocating thousands of homes and graves for iron mining. The impact of the United Phosphorus Limited on affected residents that exploded in July 2021, continues to be felt in both poor black neighbourhoods and middle-class suburbs.

“Africa’s survival is largely at the mercy of climate change. Climate change is driven by increased greenhouse gas emissions, which is fueled by South Africa and other BRICS countries that continue to rely on and supply their northern counterparts with dirty, non-renewable sources of energy, or the products created from dirty energy. “Inequality, lack of adequate infrastructure, increased levels of violence, state repression, and the exploitation of resources to the detriment of people’s livelihoods and their ability to live in a healthy relationship with their environments, are all symptoms of development not oriented towards people, but rather government and corporate profit,” Reddy added.

The BRICS summit is set to be held from August 22 to 24, in Johannesburg.

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