We’re sure China will again thank the ANC for its ‘correct position’ in threatening to withdraw Tshwane’s DA Mayor of Pretoria, Solly Msimanga’s passport for visiting Taiwan to drum up investor support. As ‘correct’ as in September 2014 when South Africa denied, (for the third time) a tourist visa to Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama, rather than anger it’s biggest trading partner – in total defiance of its (now virtually dissipated) global status on human rights. The latest controversy comes within weeks of another creative, opportunity-grabbing DA-led metro, Cape Town, generating R3 billion in tourism-related trade with its local Air Access partnership. It’s doubtful whether any ANC-led towns and cities can boast any as-successful similar initiatives. The DA immediately pointed to SA’s liaison office in Taipei as evidence that we maintain relations with the China-breakaway country, but the Department of International Relations fired back that this was only meant for ‘people to people’ contact. One can understand SA’s caution, given the huge investments China is making in this country and elsewhere in Africa – and its statement that the Taipei liaison office has no political standing. But a timid, second-guessing of China’s reaction instead of perhaps some ‘benign neglect’ when it comes to free enterprise initiatives might prove helpful. After all, mopping up little diplomatic slippages – if necessary – is the job of the international relations department surely? A quick international review of other countries trading relations with Taiwan might be instructive. Or is it that there’s too much local political capital to be made of the DA’s mighty blunder? – Chris Bateman
By Jenni Evans
Cape Town – The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said it warned Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga he would be violating South Africa’s ”One China” policy by visiting Taiwan to drum up investor support, the Department of International Relations said on Monday.
Instead, Msimanga, on an opposition Democratic Alliance ticket, disregarded this and went ahead with the trip to the breakaway state, placing him in breach of South Africa’s foreign policy.
According to Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela South Africa and the UN does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state and South Africa’s liaison office in Taipei is only meant for people-to-people contact.
”It has no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed,” said Monyela.
In line with Section 84 (2) (h) (i) of the Constitution, the president has the power to conduct international relations, and Dirco implements them in consultation with him and other government departments, he continued.
This cuts across all three spheres of government in South Africa – national, provincial and local and through various alliances and bilateral bodies and agreements, engagements are aligned to further South Africa’s policy and national interests.
Liaison office retort
This includes alliance between Brazil, India, China, Russia, and South Africa (Brics) and South Africa co-chairing with China the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac).
The statement comes amid increasing tension after the DA ousted the African National Congress in the August 3 local government elections.
When the ANC caucus at the Metro found out about Msimanga’s trip it accused him of betraying the Brics alliance and said he should be charged with treason for going ahead with the trip.
The DA retorted with a screen grab of the address of South Africa’s liaison office in Taipei.
ANC now says Solly Msimanga's Taiwan trip was unconstitutional. I'm actually shocked they know what's in the constitution.
— Justice4All (@Unathi_Kwaza) January 2, 2017
Earlier on Monday, the ANC’s national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa hit back saying ”renegade” officials should have their diplomatic passports confiscated but the DA fired off another statement saying the point of the liaison office was for building business relationships between the two countries.
“The DA reminds the ANC that neither the ANC nor the national government it runs can dictate who DA mayors meet with in order to obtain job-creating investment, and that such international trips are allowed,” said DA Dirco spokesperson Stevens Makgolopa.
Hours later Monyela issued the statement saying that the office was out of bounds for political appointments. – News24
ANC vs DA spat over mayor’s Taiwan visit heats up
By Jenni Evans
Cape Town – The African National Congress is “conveniently ignoring” that South Africa has a liaison office in Taipei for potential business relationships, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday, in defence of its Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga, who has been accused of breaking foreign policy protocol over his visit to Taiwan during the festive season.
Msimanga came under fire when it emerged that he had visited Taiwan to look for investment for the metro, in apparent violation of South Africa’s policy of only recognising one China.
In terms of that policy Msimanga was supposed to have liaised directly with the Chinese government in Beijing over his visit.
The ANC caucus in Tshwane has accused him of treason.
On Monday, the ANC kept the ongoing spat over the matter alive, with national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa saying, in a statement, that “renegade” officials should have their passports confiscated.
— Maggs Naidu (@maggsnaidu) January 2, 2017
But the DA’s spokesperson on foreign affairs, Stevens Makgolopa, in a statement hitting back at Kodwa, quickly pointed out that South Africa has a liaison office in Taipei, for the very purpose of building business relationships between the two countries.
He is blaming the spat on the ANC’s refusal to accept that it lost control of Tshwane in the August 3 local government elections.
Ignoring this for political point scoring is why the country’s foreign policy is “in such a mess”, Makgolopa said.
“The DA reminds the ANC that neither the ANC nor the national government it runs can dictate who DA mayors meet with in order to obtain job-creating investment, and that such international trips are allowed.”
China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner. – News24
Take away renegade officials’ passports – ANC
By News24 Correspondent
Johannesburg – Government representatives who contravene national foreign policy should have their official passports taken away, the ANC said on Monday.
“The ANC… calls on Dirco (the Department of International Relations and Co-operation) urgently to confiscate all official and diplomatic passports from officials who are found to be wilfully undermining our foreign policy,” said ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.
The ruling party was responding to a trip to Taiwan – apparently aimed at seeking investment opportunities – which was undertaken by the DA’s Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga over the festive season.
Previously, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation harshly criticised the trip, saying it was in conflict with South Africa’s recognition of the One China policy.
According to this, South Africa recognises Beijing as the sole legal government in China. Furthermore, as per this policy, Taiwan is considered a part of China.
I hate how a noble course aimed at improving the lives of our people through attracting investment is now turned into a politcal football.
— Solly Msimanga (@SollyMsimanga) January 2, 2017
China is currently South Africa’s biggest trading partner.
Previously, Msimanga’s office dismissed criticism of the trip as “short-sighted”.
“The Executive Mayor of Tshwane believes that all potential opportunities for trade and investment must be diligently interrogated,” said spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi late last month.
On Monday, Kodwa said that Msimanga, as a senior government official, was “bound” by existing government policy.
Besides the suggestion of taking away the official passports of those who contravene the policy, the ANC also suggested that the Taipei Liason Office in Tshwane be reprimanded for issuing the invitation to Msimanga, as an act of “extreme disrespect for our foreign policy”.
Government departments and parastals also needed to be “remind[ed]” of the country’s foreign policy, as well as “the centrality of the Presidency and Dirco”, suggested Kodwa.
“The City government of Tshwane is not an autonomous state which acts on a frolic of its own outside of government policy.”
He said that Msimanga had transgressed, not only government policy, but also “the spirit of co-operative governance as enshrined in the constitution”.
“He has started a precedence which, if allowed, can only render the entire system of government impotent,” warned Kodwa. – News24