Bid to clear ten­sion over in­ter­na­tional trips

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

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.”

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