Maimane’s Is­rael trip causes furore

The Star Late Edition - - POLITICS - NONI MOKATI noni.mokati@inl.co.za

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.

PIC­TURE: PHILL MAGAKOE

CON­FLICT RES­O­LU­TION: DA leader Mmusi Maimane

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