South African President Jacob Zuma will be meeting with representatives from all spheres of government to discuss foreign policy matters after the storm created by a visit to Taiwan by Solly Msimanga, the Mayor of Tshwane, a metropolitan municipality which includes the national administrative capital, Pretoria.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), says the trip was taken to discuss an international exchange programme between the two cities. The metro is controlled by the DA.

On Sunday, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) issued a statement saying Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by South Africa. Presidential Spokesperson Bongani Nqgulunga said Tuesday the President’s Co-ordinating Council (PCC) will sit soon to discuss the matter further.

When the PCC meets, it will be put on the agenda so that it can be discussed. We shouldn’t make assumptions. That is the reason why President Jacob Zuma convenes both local and provincial government; to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern and to make sure there is co-ordination across the three spheres of government. If there is a solution to this issue, a solution can be found through those discussions, added Nqgulunga.

Msimanga’s visit has been slammed by Dirco as a breach of South Africa’s One China policy. Dirco says the policy applies to officials at all three levels of government.

However, the DA spokesperson on foreign affairs, Stevens Mokgalopa, said the mayor was engaging in what he called para-diplomacy with the mayor of Taipei, which he said did not breach the country’s foreign policy.

The invitation was at the behest of the mayor of Taipei. What national interests are we talking about here? Part of the importance of economic diplomacy is to ensure that relations yield positive results. You’ve got three spheres of government, now all of those three engage in what we call para-diplomacy. Para diplomacy means city to city relations and province to province relations. Those can be conducted and that is what happened.


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