Last month Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga threatened 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.
Some in the ANC caucus even went as far as to suggest Msimanga had been committing “treason” by not respecting South Africa’s “One China” policy that does not recognise Taiwan’s independence.
The DA, however, soon pointed out 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 gained permission from the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco).
He warned the ANC: “If you want to play this politically and you want to be embarrassed, continue pursuing this, because I will reveal who else has been there in the last two years. You will be very interested to know who has been there, from KZN, national parliament and even here in Tshwane.
“But that would take away from what I want to do, which is to attract investment into the city,” he said.
Msimanga reiterated that he was granted a diplomatic passport by Dirco, which also issued a visa for his visit.
The mayor is quoted in February’s issue of investigative magazine Noseweek as saying: “Dirco even arranged for me to use the diplomatic lounge at OR Tambo airport and I had South Africa’s representative waiting for me on arrival in Taipei. But a Dirco spokesperson then phoned my office just before the plane departed to say if I leave they would run a story.”
While in Taiwan, Msimanga also allegedly saw evidence that several ANC big shots or people connected to them had visited Taiwan over the past two years.
Noseweek mentions “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 photos there. And some of the 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 have allegedly been to Taiwan. These include:
- 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”.
UPDATE: The Citizen received a response to this article on Monday, 13 February, from the department of trade and industry’s spokesperson, Sidwell Medupe, who disputed Noseweek’s allegation that Davies and October have ever been to Taiwan.
He 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: https://www.thedti.gov.za/editmedia.jsp?id=3090.
“We therefore request you to correct the error.”