Senior representatitves from the Democratic Alliance (DA) visited Taiwan and was received by South African officials there weeks before Solly Msimanga did.
The DA's mission was to discuss relations between Taiwan and South Africa and to explore trade possibilities. Msimanga's mission was exactly the same. Unlike the party however, the DA mayor of the Tshwane Metropolitan Council has been the target of attacks and criticism from the African National Congress (ANC) and the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco), accusing him of breaching foreign policy and "treason".
Unlike the party however, the DA mayor of the Tshwane Metropolitan Council has been the target of attacks and criticism from the ANC and Dirco.
Ivan Meyer, the DA's deputy spokesperson on international relations and cooperation, confirmed to HuffPost SA he led a delegation of seven members of parliament and provincial legislatures on the five day working visit to the island, from 9 to 13 December last year. Msimanga left for Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, on 26 December.
According to Meyer, the DA was invited by the Taiwanese government, although Dean MacPherson, a member of the delegation, said the invitation was extended to the party by the Taiwanese governing party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Both the DA and DPP are part of Liberal International, an international organisation consisting of likeminded political parties.
"We were received (in Taipei) by the South African liaison office there. Dirco knew of our visit," Meyer says.
We were received (in Taipei) by the South African liaison office there. Dirco knew of our visit.Ivan Meyer, DA MP
The DA met the Taiwanese vice president, deputy minister for foreign affairs, the chief secretary for the bureau of foreign trade ministry, the DPP as well as the World Taiwan Chamber of Commerce. "It was a successful visit where we discussed investment opportunities in South Africa and certain regions, as well as the state of relations between the countries. "
One of the main topics of discussion was agriculture. Meyer says this is particularly important because in years of drought South Africa imports almost 50% of its maize from Taiwan.
Clayson Monyela, Dirco spokesperson, was unable to confirm whether the liason office in Taipei provided assistance to the DA delegation when it met Taiwanese officials. He did however say the DA's visit was acceptable because it is an opposition party and did not represent government.
There's nothing wrong with the DA's trip.Clayson Monyela, Dirco spokesperson
Msimanga, an elected office bearer, is a government official.
"Our embassies, consulates and liaison offices ordinarily receive and facilitate movements of South Africans irrespective of their political affiliation all the time. Our liaison receiving them wouldn't be unusual. And that act does not translate into an endorsement of their mission. The liaison office would merely be fulfilling its mandate of facilitating travel for South Africans," said Monyela.