Maimane’s Israel trip causes furore
SOUTH Africa’s foreign policy has suffered another blow following DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s trip to Israel, which has created a fresh diplomatic row and left the government and the ruling party fuming.
This is the second time in less then a month, after Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga breached the government’s one-China policy by visiting Taiwan.
Maimane’s trip, barely a month after Msimanga’s visit, has exposed the dangers of two centres of power, with the opposition DA ignoring government guidelines on foreign policy to push its own agenda abroad.
President Jacob Zuma recently issued a statement clarifying the country’s foreign policy guidelines for officials.
Maimane travelled to Israel on January 7 on a conflict-resolution mission.
While the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) yesterday commended the opposition party leader for his willingness to explore Israel and see the state’s realities for himself, Maimane’s trip has raised the ire of the ANC and other organisations.
The ruling party rejected the SAZF’s sentiments, and joined in the growing criticism of Maimane’s trip.
“The ANC, together with other progressive organisations and forces, are not surprised by the DA’s visit to Israel and to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At a time when the world is increasingly standing up against Israel’s illegal settlements, including the United Nations Security Council, it is a pity that the DA is endorsing the Israeli regime instead of condemning its violations of international law,” it said.
The ANC highlighted that allegations about the DA being funded and controlled by Israel sympathisers seemed to be true.
It said the opposition party had once again let South Africans down and betrayed solidarity efforts built with the Palestinian people by former ANC leaders Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) also jumped into the fray.
“This has nothing to do with a fact-finding mission.
“Everybody knows Israel is racist and it will never allow Palestinians to have their own freedom. We ask what was Maimane’s reason for going there in the first place,” said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.
Maimane’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, however, said the issue shouldn’t be viewed out of context.
“There was never an instruction by President Zuma stating that Mr Maimane should not visit Israel.
Furthermore, he is not in Israel alone. He has also visited Palestine regions and is meeting with business leaders from both sides,” he said.
Seabe explained the reason behind the trip was part of the DA’s mission to bolster international relations as well as to promote the UN’s call to provide solutions for a non-conflict society and preventive diplomacy.
“We are not choosing sides. We want the conflict to end. Therefore it is naive to suggest that he shouldn’t have gone there. Come 2019, we aim to occupy the Union Buildings; therefore we need to expand our foreign relations and are in constant touch with other opposition party leader forums.”
Maimane is expected back in the country on Monday.
Last night, Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the ministry was still consulting on the matter and would issue a statement in due course.
The Presidency wouldn’t be drawn into the issue.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION: DA leader Mmusi Maimane