“The credibility of South Africa as the voice of Africa is challenged, we find ourselves in a position where we are pretty much alone on the G20 platform,” Dr Lesley Masters, senior researcher at the South African foreign policy think tank, the Institute for Global Dialogue, told CNBC Africa.
With South Africa’s current labour situation as well as being ranked by the African Development Bank as one of the slowest growing economies on the continent, questions are being raised on whether they are the right candidate to represent Africa at international conferences such as the G20 summit.
However, Masters explained that Africa is diverse and each country differs from the next therefore it may be near to impossible for any single state to represent on behalf of 54 other African states.
“Africa is diverse, is it even possible for one country to really represent the voice of Africa? She asked.
“We are a continent of least developed countries, of oil producers and fragile states so to bring that diversity together is going to be hard.”
Another factor that has overshadowed South Africa’s agenda at this year’s summit held in St Petersburg, Russia, is the crises in Syria which governments from the United States as well as Russia have been debating about.
“I think for South Africa, one of the areas we have to be careful of here is that international circumstances may supersede what we want from the agenda. The question of Syria is going to come off very strongly,” said Masters.
According to reports, the Syrian military were accused of using chemical weapons on the 21 August 2013, which have been banned since the 1952 Geneva Protocol. This has sparked widespread controversy across the international community.
While the US government intend on attacking Syria with a military strike, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, have advised them not to go ahead as it would cause an increase in oil prices which inevitably will have a negative impact on the global economy.
The Syrian crisis has been the main focus on the G20 summit this year, which is causing other significant issues, especially for the developing world, to not be addressed efficiently.
“It is important to understand that South Africa is the only representative from the continent, and that puts a lot of pressure on our South African negotiators,” said Masters.
However, she added, representatives from civil society bodies such as the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency were also invited to the summit. This shows that African issues are important to the international community
“I think what has happened is that they are seeing civil society as important, not just for the voice of people representing the real issues on the ground but they are also implementers at the end of the day,” explained Masters.
Earlier this year, Masters attended a civil society meeting Moscow where the agenda for job creation, democratic governance and the importance of development were focused on.
She stated that these developing world concerns would also be addressed during the G20 summit.
“The G20 summit does represent an important platform to start building the momentum for getting issues like job creation investment potential. Also, tax reforms, which is an issue that links in with our own domestic priorities is prominent on the agenda,” said Masters