In response to an article run earlier this month about Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga’s threats to release a list of government officials and leaders who had also visited Taipei, following the severe criticism he faced for his visit to the small country in December, the department of trade and industry (the dti) has come out to say the matter has not been reported accurately.
The story became ugly after some in the ANC caucus went as far as to suggest Msimanga had been committing “treason” in visiting Taiwan, as he was allegedly not respecting South Africa’s “One China” policy that does not recognise Taiwan’s independence.
The DA pointed out, however, that the South African government maintains an official liaison office in Taipei, and Taiwan has a similar arrangement in South Africa.
Msimanga dismissed allegations that he flouted the rules of travelling to Taipei to meet with its mayor, stating he had gained permission from the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) and they’d even helped with some arrangements during his trip.
The mayor was also quoted in February’s issue of investigative magazine Noseweek as alleging he saw evidence that several ANC big shots or people connected to them had visited Taiwan over the past two years.
Noseweek mentioned “several government ministers, deputy ministers and at least two ANC mayors [who] have visited Taiwan in recent years”.
Msimanga is quoted as saying: “I saw their [ANC leaders’] photos there. And some of the [Taiwanese] factories confirmed they had been funding the governing party.”
Noseweek’s editor, Martin Welz, then wrote in an editorial in the same magazine that Msimanga was “reluctant to reveal names of ANC personages who in the past 24 months had been happy to – in the ANC’s words – ‘commit treason’ by visiting Taiwan”.
However, he revealed his publication had “other sources who aren’t so shy”.
He named some of those who had allegedly been to Taiwan. These included:
- President Jacob Zuma’s outspoken eldest son Edward and his wealthy nephew Khulubuse.
- A former mayor of eThekwini.
- Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and his director-general Lionel October, who Welz described as “top of the pile”.
However, the dti said they wished to dispute the naming of Davies and October. They told The Citizen that, in their view, Noseweek’s sources had not provided accurate information.
The dti’s spokesperson, Sidwell Medupi, wrote by email: “The department would like to categorically state that Minister Davies and Director-General October have never visited Taiwan.
“The only visit organised by the department to Taiwan was an Investment Trade Mission in 2014 that was led by a Chief Director. See attached link.
“We therefore request you to correct the error.”