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Msimanga: Taiwan trip not a political football

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga returned to South Africa on Monday after visiting Taipei to liaise with its mayor.

FILE: Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga says he will provide feedback about his now controversial Taiwan trip in the next few days.

Msimanga returned to South Africa on Monday morning after visiting Taipei to liaise with its mayor.

The African National Congress (ANC) says that by visiting Taiwan, Msimanga transgressed foreign policy with respect to diplomatic ties with China.

Msimanga says regardless of the ANC’s belief that his visit was in contravention of the "One China" policy - he was doing what is right for the city of Tswhane.

“One thing that I’m not going to do is to turn my trip into political football like the ANC is trying to make it into. Ours was to go pick up some opportunities.”

The ANC has suggested that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation remind councillors of the foreign policies affecting South Africa.

The ruling party has also asked that diplomatic passports of government officials believed to be deliberately undermining international policy, be confiscated.

Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says: “Perhaps because we just came from local elections and some of the councillors have not been inducted, both in terms of the dos and don’ts, so that you don’t find them using and being ignorant.”

The mayor stated before his trip that party politics should be transcended by the need to create investment opportunities.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CALL FOR ACTION

The International Relations Department says Msimanga’s visit to Taiwan is in breach of South Africa’s foreign policy.

The department says it advised Msimanga not go through with the visit as it breaches the so-called “One China" policy.

But he apparently ignored officials.

The department explains that Taiwan is not recognised as a sovereign state by South Africa and the United Nations.

International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela says: “We think that this sort of behaviour is something which must be discouraged because it has potential to compromise the country’s national interests.

“And we think that when it comes to foreign policy, politics must be put aside and the interest of the country must be put above everything else.”

At the same time, the African National Congress (ANC) says that Msimanga’s trip to Taiwan has shown that the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s claims that they respect the Constitution are not valid.

According to the ANC, Msimanga has contravened international relations policies.

The ANC says Msimanga has transgressed foreign policy with respect to diplomatic ties with China. According to the “One China” policy, people seeking diplomatic ties with mainland China cannot have relations with Taiwan.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “This flies in the face of an organisation that always prides itself on being the champion of democracy and the Constitution. Clearly his action undermines the Constitution.”

There was already backlash when Msimanga left for China, however he still chose to honour Taiwanese Mayor Ko Wen-je’s invitation, saying that it was in the best interests of the country to explore any and all investment potential.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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