Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga says that the ANC-led government’s outrage over his trip to Taiwan was completely manufactured, and unsettled potential Taiwanese investors.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Msimanga said that he has email evidence of communication between his office and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) showing that he had permission to go on the trip – and claims that he was only warned 5 minutes before his flight against going.
Further, the DA mayor said that he was fully aware of the sensitivity surrounding the politics involved, and made a point to steer clear of any political talk, focusing on building investment relationships.
He added that the government’s reaction to his trip was political, and had ‘spooked’ some 120 Taiwanese investors, who reportedly told him they were unsure of whether or not it was safe for them to come to South Africa.
Dirco previously lashed out at Msimanga for going on the trip, saying that he was warned against going as it went against South Africa’s foreign policies.
According to South Africa’s foreign policy, government recognises ‘One China’, with Taiwan still seen as a Chinese state. Taiwan, however, views itself as an independent country all its own.
Dirco said that going to Taiwan in his personal capacity, or as a member of the DA was fine – but as an official representing the South African government, the move was ill-advised.
The ANC said that Msimanga’s trip amounted to treason, and called for his diplomatic passport to be revoked.
However many follow-up reports in the media pointed out that, not only had the DA long had investment talks with Taiwan, the South African government, too, has on a number of occasions been to Taiwan on the same mission.