By Darren Bergman MP – DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

The Democratic Alliance (DA) urges the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to follow due process and launch a proper investigation into the woes of finding Los Angeles consul-general Thandile Sunduza a suitable home, as reported in the Sunday Times over the weekend.

The DA has already submitted parliamentary questions to DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor in this regard in an effort to lay bare the facts behind allegations from both Sunduza and senior consular official Shadrack Nepfumbada, who has accused the consul-general of gross incompetence.

It is vital that this matter is handled with tact and grace as it will have an impact on South Africa’s international image.

It is clear that the tension between the consul-general and the official have been building for some time, and that a diplomatic touch would be needed to diffuse a matter between the politically connected Sunduza and the well decorated and well served Nepfumbada.

Adding insult to injury, the DA understands that DIRCO itself has been marred in leadership controversies with consultancy reports never seeing the light of day, from one Minister to the next. Between the Director-General (DG) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is an organogram so disorganized that should those two positions suddenly falter, it would be difficult to find an immediate succession plan.

It is hardly surprising that the drama in Los Angeles is brought to light just before a report on the New York property is to be released. These South African sagas being played on an international stage are symptoms that reflects a dearth of improvisation and collaboration to get from one crisis to the next, where political appointees are pitted against career diplomats, while South African citizens continue to suffer while the government maintains its grip on our purse. It is the same script, the same directors.

It is high time that the Foreign Services Bill were implemented as it would ensure fairness to both diplomats and officials during investigations into matters such as these. If you are to recall an official as requested by members of the committee, then you must recall the consul-general too. It is essential to establish the Ambassador and the Director of the American branch’s roles in the situation. Why did DIRCO leadership fail us over the last few months in this regard?

The DA will not allow the offering of scapegoats – there must be a clear understanding of the roles of all the actors in this scene. Fairness and opportunity will speak over loyalty and fear.

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