What exactly did Nkoana-Mashabane say about Brexit?

The International Relations Minister had some interesting responses to questions on the Brexit.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - After International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was lampooned for her replies to questions relating to the Brexit at a media briefing on Monday, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) released transcriptions of the questions and answers.

Read the transcript below:

Question by RFI: "Question is on the visit to France. I would like to ask you about the importance of this visit in the context of Brexit and how that's going to change South Africa's relations with France especially accessing the EU market."

Answer by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: "Before I go to this question, before I forget even on the things I want to say on a lighter note, for some reason there is something very special between us and France. When we were campaigning for Mme Dlamini Zuma we were told that: 'aren't you aware that you are up against France?', so we wondered, France is a member of the European Union. We are members of the African Union, so this can't be true. So Brexit, we don't know about it. We saw it on television. We hear that it would impact, when it started, negatively on our trade and investment relations with countries from that part but we haven't seen real evidence. Maybe it is still coming but one thing first, we are not members there and we can only say viva democracy."

Question by Carien du Plessis from News24: ".... Also another question about Brexit. It looks like after Brexit, the EU project is crumbling a little bit. A lot of people want to pull out. Do you think this will affect negatively the philosophy that the AU is currently chasing the whole integration idea or integrated market? Do you think this could affect the AU negatively?"

Answer by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: "The Europeans were never colonised. They colonised others. So whatever we do here, starting from the Organisation of the African Union to the African Union, we were not mimicking the European Union because we come from two different backgrounds.

"If their project failed or is failing, we wish it shouldn't fail, because people nowadays in 2016, if we understood what globalisation was about, is that they would follow opportunities. So if you say we would build high walls to stop them we do not know how practical that is. That even when Brexit or when Britain was exiting, people were arriving in boats in Europe so I don't know how immune is the UK from that.

"President Museveni says it takes two weeks to transport cattle by truck in the same region called the EAC from Uganda to Kenya. So if we had good roads and rail infrastructure it wouldn't be a problem. At a given checkpoint on whether this cattle are healthy and have all their documents they could pass but that which has been an inhibition it's not whether they were healthy or not, it's because the road infrastructure made it difficult.

"So we are still dealing with basics here. But we say it's not necessary for me to fly to France in order for me to connect to Nouakchott. I should be able to fly from OR Tambo to Nouakchott so these are the things that we are still dealing with. So really we are not at the level where we can be saying you know the Union on the other side of those who once colonised us is falling apart so stop integrating."