Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for South Africa

Newsline: South Africa downgrades embassy in Israel to liaison office

South Africa has downgraded its embassy in Israel to a liaison office. The office, located in Tel Aviv, has “no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities,” South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said. “The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations,” Sisulu also said. (https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/south-africa-downgrades-embassy-in-israel-to-liaison-office) In May 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador, Sisa Ngombane, “until further notice” after Israeli troops killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds during protests at the Israel-Gaza border, part of the so-called “Great March of Return.” The violence reached a peak on May 14, 2018 with the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. With the downgrading of the embassy, and thus diplomatic relations with Israel, Ngombane will not be returning to Israel. The downgrade comes nearly a year after the ruling African National Congress party called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.”


Newsline: South Africa Will Not Reinstate Ambassador to Israel

South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel, who was recalled in 2018 in protest of the high death toll in Gaza, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Apr. 5. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-south-africa-will-not-reinstate-ambassador-to-israel-recalled-over-gaza-deaths-1.7089159) Since the South African envoy was recalled, a move that weakened ties between the two countries, the embassy has been functioning as a representative office, mainly providing consular service. “The South Africa government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in an earlier statement.

Newsline: Algerian diplomat accused of sexual assault in South Africa

Police have confirmed a case of sexual assault has been opened against a diplomat in South Africa. The diplomat, understood to be attached to the Algerian Mission, is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a domestic worker between 2013 and 2017. (https://ewn.co.za/2019/03/12/diplomat-attached-to-algerian-mission-accused-of-sexual-assault-in-sa) The Union of Local Employees of Missions Accredited to South Africa picketed outside the Brooklyn police station on Tuesday calling on police to act swiftly. The victim laid a complaint at the beginning of the month but the accused has not yet been arrested.

Newsline: South Africa to Downgrade Israel Embassy Status

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country is planning to downgrade the status of its embassy in the occupied territories, in response to Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ rights. Speaking to the parliament in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was working on implementing a decision by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to lower diplomatic ties with Israel. “The South African government remains seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African Embassy in Israel and we will communicate once the cabinet has fully finalized on this matter,” he said. (http://imemc.org/article/south-africa-to-downgrade-israel-embassy-status/) The South African president further noted that the decision to downgrade the embassy in the occupied lands is driven by Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinians and the regime’ failure to enter negotiations on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PNN further reports that, last May, South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv in protest at Israel’s deadly crackdown on anti-occupation rallies in the Gaza Strip. South Africa established close ties with the Israeli regime during the apartheid era, but after the collapse of the discriminatory system, the African country began to lean towards Palestine.

Newsline: South African’s ex-ambassador to Iran arrested

Pretoria’s former ambassador to Iran has been arrested in South Africa on charges he took a bribe to help telecoms company MTN win a $31.6 billion license to operate in Iran. Yusuf Saloojee, now retired, was arrested on Thursday, police said on Friday, in the latest legal blow for MTN, which has faced a host of such problems in recent years. It denies the latest allegations (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mtn-iran-arrests/south-africans-ex-ambassador-to-iran-arrested-in-mtn-investigation-idUSKCN1Q41PK). Police said Saloojee was given 1.4 million rand ($100,000) to help MTN win the 15-year contract to operate in Iran, worth $31.6 billion, from Turkish mobile operator Turkcell. He used the money to buy a house in Pretoria, police said.

Newsline: South Africa criticises western nations for breaching diplomatic protocol

South Africa expressed disappointment on Sunday after the United States and other Western powers wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him to tackle corruption, and said those countries had breached diplomatic protocol (http://www.africanews.com/2019/02/04/south-africa-criticises-western-nations-for-breaching-diplomatic-protocol/). The Sunday Times newspaper reported that the United States, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, had sent a joint memorandum to Ramaphosa through their diplomatic missions in Pretoria to warn that foreign investment was at risk unless South Africa takes tangible action against perpetrators of corruption and other serious crimes. South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said it had noted “with disappointment the dispatching of a memorandum to the office of the presidency” by the five embassies. “This is a departure from established diplomatic practice,” DIRCO said in a statement. “In terms of acceptable diplomatic practice, protocol and convention, diplomatic missions are expected to communicate to the receiving state by means of a note verbale (diplomatic note) conveyed through the department,” it added.

Newsline: South Africa’s five ambassadors recalled

Minister of Intelligence Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba had recalled five former State Security Agency (SSA) officials serving the country as diplomats abroad, saying the SSA is in need of their skills back home. Among them is Thulani Dlomo, who is the country’s ambassador to Japan – one of the best paid jobs in South Africa’s diplomatic structures. The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya told News24 that Letsatsi-Duba had asked that Dlomo, along with four other ambassadors, return to the country to strengthen capacity at SSA.