Dirco 'manufactured outrage' over my Taiwan trip, says Tshwane mayor

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has defended his controversial trip to Taiwan. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has defended his controversial trip to Taiwan. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has spoken out about his controversial trip to Taiwan, countering the department of international relations and co-operation’s claim that it had advised him to cancel the trip.

“Nobody ever communicated with myself or with my office or with any of my MMCs regarding this matter of us going to Taipei,” Msimanga said on Wednesday at a press briefing.

Msimanga said that the department had instead contributed to “manufactured outrage”.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said that he had told Msimanga prior to his trip not to fly to Taiwan because it would breach the One China policy.

The mayor dismissed Monyela’s statement saying: “Only when I was at the airport, literally five minutes from boarding, did we receive a call from the spokesperson of [the international relations department] saying that they would release a statement if I boarded.”

Msimanga also said he used a diplomatic passport to enter Taiwan and that it is impossible to use such a passport without permission from Dirco.

The mayor said he had visited Taipei to discuss economic investment and growth. Msimanga’s party, the Democratic Alliance, has backed his visit

The ANC reacted to the visit, saying Msimanga’s diplomatic passport should be confiscated, the international relations department rebuked Msimanga in a statement, and President Jacob Zuma hinted that he’d meet Msimanga in the President’s Co-ordinating Council to discuss the trip.

The One China policy refers to China’s position that there is only one China and that Taiwan is a part of it. This dates back to 1949 when the communists defeated the nationalists, who fled to Taiwan. China also lays claim to Tibet.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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