COMMENT

Govt goes into brain meltdown

Andrew Donaldson on the hysterical reaction to Solly Msimanga's visit to Taiwan

REPORTS that scientists in Ireland have identified a new human organ did not pass unnoticed at the Mahogany Ridge, prompting, as it did, inappropriate chatter among the regulars on certain body parts and their workings. 

The mesentery is however not that sort of organ, and it is difficult to be overly excited about a fold of the peritoneum membrane which — it says here — attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas and other bits of gut to the abdomen.

Although its function is still unclear, the discovery has opened up “whole new area of science,” according to J Calvin Coffey, a researcher at the University Hospital Limerick. 

We do have a few theories of our own. Considering the mesentery is part of the digestive system, there was some speculation that it perhaps operates as a safety mechanism that prevents us from being overcome by foul and noisome vapours whenever we’re fed anything particularly unpalatable by politicians.

This would certainly explain the seeming indifference among ordinary South Africans to the vituperative and hypocritical response from the ANC this week to Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga’s recent trip to Taiwan.

Msimanga is of course a member of the DA. He just has to rock up for work to annoy the ruling party. Even so, his fact-finding mission, where he was granted the freedom of the capital, Taipei, seems to have melted government brains and sparked an outbreak of rabies.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation has claimed that Msimanga violated South African’s “One China” policy with his visit to drum up investor support. 

However, in 2014, the Department of Trade and Industry supported a business delegation to Taiwan which did exactly what Msimanga did — explore trade and investment possibilities. 

The sky did not fall then, Pretoria’s relationship with Beijing was unaffected, and there was no hysterical whining about confiscating passports and accusations of treason and fraud.

That trip was endorsed by Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies, who said that it would lead to “increased export orders, and more production output and the resultant additional job opportunities for South Africa”.

The DA have accordingly now called on Davies to similarly endorse Msimanga’s trip. Somehow we don’t see this happening anytime soon.

Taiwan is South Africa’s second largest Asian trading partner. The government has since 1998 run a liaison office in Taipei which, in the absence of formal diplomatic relations, functions as a de facto embassy. The Taiwanese counterpart in Pretoria is the Taipei Liaison Office.

But, according to Dirco spokesman spokesman Clayson Monyela, because South Africa does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state, the Taipei liaison office is only meant for “people-to-people” contact. News24 quoted him as saying, “It has no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed.”

This is the same Dirco that declares on its website: “The strength of cooperation between South Africa and Taiwan is underpinned by our similar values and principles that are informed by our commitment to a technical partnership aimed at advancing South Africa and Taiwan’s domestic development priorities. Our total bilateral trade was recorded at over $2.2-billion for 2012.”

According to the Taipei Liaison Office, there are currently about 800 Taiwanese factories and companies based in South Africa. They provide about 40 000 local jobs and about R25-billion rand of cumulative direct investment and some R20-billion in trade each year. It’s not peanuts.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Johannesburg where the ANC prepares for its 105th anniversary celebrations this weekend — if only because the lead up to the beano has been muted and President Jacob Zuma has so far been absent from proceedings.

Taking time out from the Msimanga-bashing orgy, party spokesman Zizi Kodwa has valiantly suggested that there is “no conspiracy” behind Zuma’s absence and that he is attending to other matters.

Many however blame Zuma for the party’s recent misfortunes. The Gauteng ANC leader Paul Mashatile has been particularly vocal about the culture of denial so prevalent in the party. 

He should be careful. There is some opinion, here at the Ridge, that the Zuma who enters Orlando Stadium tomorrow will be a greatly enraged man, a wounded bull elephant seething with resentment at the crappy time he had of it in 2016. 

Call it a gut feeling — if only to get back to the mesentery — but he’ll be looking to commit some damage this year ahead of the December conference where he will be replaced as party leader. We can expect much in the way of loping charges and bellicose outbursts at white monopoly capital and their “stooges” and what have you.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.