Uproar over Taiwan visit

As a standing tradition the African National Congress (ANC) is celebrating its anniversary on the 8th of January. Picture: Getty Images

The ANC’s Greater Tshwane Regional caucus has joined the fray in condemning a diplomatic trip undertaken by Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga to Taiwan and warned it could constitute treason.

The party said the trip exposed Msimanga’s limited understanding of his role and powers, as well as the functioning of the three layers of the state – local, provincial and national.

“While at the same time they all operate according to the Constitution and laws and policies made by the national Parliament, local government may not do anything that is against the laws or policies set down by national government. We are without doubt characterising this trip as treason and we will be consulting with the MEC of Cogta and law enforcement agencies on the implications of this trip,” ANC Tshwane caucus spokesperson, Lesego Makhubela, said.

Msimanga has come under fire because his trip is contrary to the South African government’s “One China” position which was formalised through a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China in December 1997. The One-China policy infers that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice-versa

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said the visit was not sanctioned by the South African government.

“The executive mayor knows our views and was advised against undertaking this trip. The SA government respects the one China policy,” he said.

However, Msimanga has defended his visit.

His spokesperson, Sam Mgobozi, said suggestions that Msimanga was contradicting the South African position on the “One China Policy” by travelling to Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, at the invitation of the mayor of Taipei, were short sighted and misrepresented.

“Executive mayor Msimanga has elected to take time out of his own personal leave to visit the mayor of Taipei on his invitation to explore possible investment opportunities.

“This trip will also be at no cost to the city despite what the ANC government wishes to purport to the people of Tshwane and South Africa alike.

He said the mayor believed “all potential opportunities for trade and investment must be diligently interrogated if we are to fully harness bilateral relationships for the purposes of cultivating the opportunities so many of our people desperately need”.

Tshwane mayor ruffles ANC feathers over ‘unsanctioned visit’ to island during ‘personal time’