The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has accused mayor Solly Msimanga of committing treason by taking a trip to Taiwan.
Solly Msimanga was invited by the Taiwanese city’s mayor Ko Wen-je to explore possibilities for trade relations between the two cities but some ANC cacus view trip as contravening the “One China” policy between South Africa and China.
The so called One China policy dictates that countries seeking diplomatic relations with mainland China can’t have ties to Taiwan.
“The trip did not only expose the conspiracy against Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) but also exposed the limited understanding of Mr Solly Msimanga on his roles and powers as well as his understanding on the functioning of the three layers of the state which are inter-related and inter-dependent,” the ANC Tshwane caucus said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Whilst at the same time they all operate according to the Constitution and laws and policies made by national Parliament, local government may not do anything that is against the laws or policies set down by national government. We are without no doubt characterising this trip as treason and we will be consulting with the MEC of Cogta and law enforcement agencies on the implications of this trip.”
By visiting Taiwan’s capital Taipei, Msimanga is said to have caused a diplomatic stir. The ANC said he has ignored cautions by the department of international relations not to visit the country.
The department’s spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said the trip was not sanctioned by government, and that Msimang was advised not to visit Taiwan.
“The SA government respects the One China policy,” said Monyela.
Meanwhile, City of Tshwane’s Samkelo Mgobozi said the mayor has never ignored the SA and China ties but says that party politics should be transcended by the need to create opportunities.
Mgobozi also said that the mayor funded the trip himself and took time out of his own personal leave for the trip.
“This visit was at no cost to the city of Tshwane and it was by invitation of the mayor of Taipei, so suggestions to the contrary that this trip would be a cost to the city are just not true and simply inaccurate.”
“Creating opportunities for our people should transcend party politics and be a joint effort to explore all opportunities to liberate our people from poverty,” said Mgobozi.
South Africa’s ties with Taiwan ended during former president Nelson Mandela’s administration in 1998 when he officially recognised China over Taiwan. China and Taiwan had split after a civil war in the 1940s. However, the two countries enjoy economic ties.