The overblown furore that has erupted over what could be construed in some quarters as a diplomatic gaffe on the part of Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has had a blowback effect on ANC detractors.
Msimanga might have overreached his capacity during what he termed as a trade mission to Taiwan to drum up investment for his municipality – and the fanfare he received in the capital Taipei certainly did not help his cause – but the reaction from the department of international affairs and cooperation (Dirco) for stepping on the toes of the government’s One China policy, which does not recognise the sovereignty of the island off mainland China and regards Beijing as the ruling Chinese authority, is over the top.
To bandy about words like “treason” with regard to Msimanga’s visit is an overreaction so staggering in its studied ignorance of what are emerging as the facts as to beggar belief. So, too, are Dirco’s veiled threats about the withdrawal of passports, a function they cannot vaguely precipitate, even in the imaginations of the most backward of bureaucratic minds.
Similar rumblings by former head of the parliamentary sports committee Butana Komphela aimed at the Springbok rugby team nearly a decade ago made that abundantly clear. The threat to remove passport privileges as a knee jerk reaction is nonviable and smacks of the reaction of a failed bully.
And as politically astute former editor Songezo Zibi so rightly pointed out, this country maintains a diplomatic office in Taiwan and quite legally does R15 billion in trade annually.
“Trade links are open season if there are no sanctions against a country or territory,” Zibi noted.
We can only concur with Zibi’s assessment that the Taiwanese were making a political point to Beijing and it might have been ill-conceived on Msimanga’s part, “but it certainly broke no law”.