So much has been said about Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga’s visit to Taipei in Taiwan. Rightly or wrongly, the African National Congress’ government has determined that the “One China” policy is government’s current foreign policy.
It needs to be noted that whether Msimanga went to Taipei while using his private funds and on his annual leave, he went there to conduct government business by his own admission. To strengthen trade relations with Taipei to ensure more investment for the City of Tshwane he says. But why is this so disturbing?
If Msimanga were merely a leader of the opposition in the Tshwane Metro Council, his trip and its consequences would neither be here nor there. He would be doing what opposition parties do, unsettling the ruling party.
But as executive mayor, he is not merely a leader of the opposition, he is leader of the governing party in the council.
The governing party. Part of the reason for the ANC’s failure in the delivery of services throughout the country is that the party has failed to make a successful transition from struggle opposition politics to becoming a well-oiled machine a ruling party needs to be.
Being in struggle opposition is easy because you are not restricted by rules and policies that come with having taken an oath to uphold the law or constitution.
The Democratic Alliance has easily fallen into that trap, of failing to realise that now, as the governing party, the responsibility to align their actions with government policy is no longer a matter of choice, but a requirement.
It is very easy to dismiss cries from the ANC as mere politicking to score much-needed points off a trip that, in the bigger scheme of things, should be dismissed as a storm in a teacup, especially if China does not cry foul through official channels.
But the point needs to be made that moral bankruptcy in the national ruling party must never be used to justify an executive mayor’s failure to respect national government policy.
Msimanga’s defence that: “I’m not the only one” is just as baseless as the defence of ruling party corruption that goes “but corruption is not new, the apartheid government was worse”.
No need to point out the moral bankruptcy of that defence. Even a kindergarten child knows that “he did it first” does not right a wrong.
Let us not be quick to forget that the current morass in our public space is a result of ruling party officials acting without regard for their oath of office. They act only in a way that is expedient to them and their pockets.
The DA has made it a habit to scream from the highest mountains when ANC politicians put their foot in it, so they would do well to acknowledge this diplomatic faux pas by their mayor.
It is very curious that their elected mayors in Tshwane and Johannesburg have had a roaring start in office based on their pursuit of justice for corrupt practices of their predecessors, but cry foul when it is pointed out that they have erred.
Herman Mashaba has been caught out fanning xenophobic fires in Johannesburg through his utterances.
Like Msimanga, he must not expect magnanimity from the public, because that would mean turning a blind eye to their faults. Acceptance of the breach of government policy is the first step to fixing the situation.