(HN, June 26, 2010) – CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Striking an almost heady tone, South African President Jacob Zuma said today that Africa intends to assert an aggressive stance at the G20 Summit and no longer make demands with "cap in hand."
Addressing the opening of a global business forum in the South African city of Cape Town via satellite, Zuma said: "Our voices will be heard on a number of issues...We seek equal partnership for meaningful growth and development in forums such as the G20 and G8.”
He said this included pressing for reforms of the international financial system and for the opening of markets.
Zuma said top on the agenda at the G20 - which takes place today and tomorrow in Ontario, Canada - will be measures needed to sustain recovery and the required reforms. "We will underline the urgency of considering the voice of the developing world in the creation and implementation of new financial standards and rules," Zuma said, adding that the African continent represents a market of almost one-billion, of which 20 million are in South Africa.
He added: "We are not here in Canada - cap in hand - to ask for some of these things."
The South African president's assertive voice is emblematic of the "New Africa" - a growing cadre of democratically elected leaders from the continent not satisfied to keep silent and let the developed world make most of the decisions that impact on them.
Zuma reminded his audience that sub-Saharan Africa is now the third fastest growing region in the world - after China and India. Fuelling the growth is demand for more consumer goods, sound economic policies and "improved political conditions."
Zuma wasted no time touting the positive qualities of the country he leads - citing world class infrastructure, improved tourism and sporting assets and solving bottlenecks. He said the international media's coverage during the ongoing World Cup has been incredibly positive.
In boasting about the benefits the World Cup will bring to South Africa, he made no mention of his neighbours - some of which, such as Lesotho - complain about being sidelined by the world's largest sporting event.
--- Reporting by HUMNEWS’ Michael Bociurkiw, at the Fortune/TIME/CNN Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa