Bid to clear tension over international trips
PARLIAMENT has entered the fray in the spat between the ANC and the DA over recent travels by Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga to Taiwan, and Mmusi Maimane to Israel, which left the ANC fuming.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on international relations and co-operation, Siphosezwe Masango, said yesterday the Foreign Service Bill would be discussed with politicians.
He said the trips by the DA leaders had created confusion and it was the role and responsibility of Parliament to clear the air.
Masango said the discussion on the bill was necessary in the current political climate, and that the discussion would put an end to any confusion.
“The trips abroad may undermine South Africa’s foreign policy and the work of the president. Foreign relations are the preserve of government,” Masango said.
“This situation is concerning, and makes the pending Foreign Service Bill even more important so that people do not misrepresent the country unknowingly.
“This can hurt South Africa’s economy and trade relations,” Masango said.
After the trip to Taiwan, which has no diplomatic ties with South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said he would address the issue of the country’s foreign policy at the meeting of the Presidential Co-ordinating Council.
Msimanga’s visit to Taiwan took place last month, but Maimane’s visit to Israel last week, where he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu and other leaders in Tel Aviv, angered the ANC.
The Palestinian embassy in Pretoria this week denied claims by the DA that the party had scheduled a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, only to be cancelled at the last minute.
Masango said officials were set to host a meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday to discuss the Foreign Service Bill.
He stressed that there needed to be synergy on South Africa’s foreign policy. “International trips and fact-finding missions should benefit the country as a whole.
“These trips should seek to supplement and enhance the work of government, and contribute to the advancement of Brand SA,” said Masango.
But the DA spokesperson on international relations, Stevens Mokgalapa, said the ANC government did not have a coherent foreign policy, and that the ANC did not know what the national interests of the country entailed.
He added that the ANC was moving away from the human rights policy of Nelson Mandela.
“In the main, what should drive our foreign policy is our domestic interests, and our national interests are unemployment, inequality and poverty.
“It is those domestic issues that should be influencing our foreign policy,” Mokgalapa said.
Masango said the Foreign Service Bill was an opportunity for engagement on the foreign policy of South Africa with all the role players.
“It would hurt the economy if there was confusion on foreign policy.”