Govt mum on mission to Middle East

Govt isn't revealing much about Aziz Pahad's pending mission to the Middle East.

FILE: Former South African deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Government isn't revealing much about former deputy foreign affairs minister Aziz Pahad's pending mission to the Middle East.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday confirmed Pahad would be leaving as soon as possible to gauge the situation in Israel and Gaza.

Pahad will lead a team to the conflict ridden region to convey South Africa (SA's) concerns about the escalation of violence.

Government hasn't publically revealed Pahad's mandate.

This is raising questions about whether he would try and broker a ceasefire deal.

Ramaphosa described Pahad's mission as a "fact-finding" exercise.

"He will be proceeding as soon as possible. The role we want to see ourselves playing is one who wants to find out more details about what is happening on the ground."

He added other countries can learn from SA in relation to how conflicts are dealt with.

On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma added South Africa's voice to United Nations (UN) Chief Ban Ki-moon's call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

Zuma delivered the presidency's budget vote in Parliament.

He told Members of Parliament there never will be a military solution to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Fighting intensified in the wake of an Israeli ground offensive in the Palestinian enclave.

The violence has been raging for over two weeks and as a result, over 700 people have been killed.

Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane echoed the call.

Zuma said South Africa will work with its partners in BRICS to develop a common position on the crisis.