How Has South Africa’s Membership of BRICS Intensified Uneven and Combined Development in the Country and Beyond?

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The recent African scramble has resulted in uneven and combined development (UCD) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) throughout the 21st century due to unequal exchange. South Africa plays a sub-imperial role in this scramble in SSA. It both exploits and is exploited. The mining industry in South Africa has attracted interest from colonial powers, English-speaking businesses, and foreign investors, making it a highly lucrative sector. Furthermore, most black South Africans have been employed in the mining industry since the late 19th century. Over the past 25 years, the African National Congress government has utilised the mining industry to achieve economic transformation through black economic empowerment policies. This study proposes that the mining sector in South Africa is responsible for the ongoing UCD, despite receiving new investments and empowerment policies. South Africa’s inclusion in BRICS has broadened its range of international partners beyond its traditional Western or African counterparts. However, South Africa’s decision to join the BRICS group in 2011 has not yet yielded the expected transformation in the country’s economy and growth. As a result, it is uncertain whether South Africa’s BRICS membership has addressed the country’s persistent problem of UCD. This study argues that South Africa’s BRICS membership has exacerbated UCD in the country. This study proposes that Trotsky’s UCD analytical framework is useful for analysing South Africa’s policy choice to join BRICS, which strengthens its sub-imperial role.


Unequal Exchange, Sub-imperialism, Mining Industry, Economic Transformation, Transnational Capital


Sinan Baran, “How Has South Africa’s Membership of BRICS Intensified Uneven and Combined Development in the Country and Beyond?”, Uluslararasi Iliskiler, Vol. 21, No 82, 2024, pp. 117-133.


Sinan BARAN Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Kırşehir Ahi Evran University, Kırşehir. E-Mail: [email protected] Orcid: 0000-0003-0285-9647

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