Ramaphosa was speaking in a televised address ahead of the BRICS summit which begins in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
South Africa will not be forced to side with any world power, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday as he prepared to host a summit of major emerging economies.
The meeting in Johannesburg this week of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will seek to broaden their influence and push for change in global geopolitics.
South Africa’s hosting of the summit highlighted its ties to the Kremlin, especially as it refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Even if some of our critics prefer to openly support their political and ideological choices, we will not allow ourselves to be drawn into a competition between global powers,” Ramaphosa said in a televised state of the nation address.
“We have resisted pressure to align ourselves with any of the world powers or influential blocs of nations,” he said.
Ramaphosa will be joined at the BRICS summit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Russia will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with online participation by President Vladimir Putin. Poutine decided against his presence in person because he is the target of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court which South Africa is in theory obliged to execute.
The mandate triggered a diplomatic dilemma for weeks until Putin’s decision was announced, given South Africa’s long-standing ties to Russia and South Africa’s refusal to arrest former Sudanese dictator Omar al -Bashir in 2015 in a similar situation.
Around 50 other non-BRICS leaders – including Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo – have confirmed they will attend the talks.
BRICS countries account for about a quarter of the global economy and interest in joining the group has increased this year.
At least 40 countries have expressed interest in becoming members, and 23 have submitted their applications. Countries aspiring to become members of BRICS include Argentina, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Cuba, EthiopiaIndonesia, Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
South Africa said it supported calls to open BRICS membership.
“An expanded BRICS will represent a diverse group of nations with different political systems that share a common desire to have a more balanced world order,” Ramaphosa said.
Expansion plans were first mooted last year, according to South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.