Media Statement

28 August 2012

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s Parliamentary Answer confirmed the independence of government in foreign policy decision-making

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation wishes to correct media reports alleging that a 2005 vote by a representative of the South African government at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was meant to favour a certain cellular phone company in its dealings with the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The article alleged that: “Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has admitted that SA’s representative on the International Atomic Energy Agency was instructed by the government to take a stance in a key nuclear proliferation vote that benefited ANC-connected cell phone giant MTN in its commercial dealings with the government of nuclear pariah Iran.”

Below we reprint the question as directed to the Minister and her exact answer as provided through Parliament:


(1) Whether her department has investigated allegations of (a) bribery and (b) trading in influence against a certain person (name furnished) in respect of a certain group (names and details furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

(2) Whether the said person has been suspended; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


(1) The allegations relating to the person in question are very different from those involving a South African Ambassador who was suspended from duty pending the outcome of an investigation into the latter allegedly accepting an amount of money from a South African cellular phone company. South African officials representing the country at meetings of international organisations receive instructions as to how they should vote on specific issues and cannot make such decisions on their own without prior consultation with the Department’s Management, including its political principals.

(2) In the circumstances, the person in question has not been suspended.  

The Minister’s answer reaffirmed the independence of South Africa’s foreign policy. It is therefore inaccurate, malicious and unethical to deduce from the Minister’s answer that the South African government may have voted in manner that was intended to benefit a private entity. No private entity can ever buy or influence South Africa’s foreign policy and its execution. The key principles underpinning our foreign policy include the promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance as well as championing the African Agenda.   

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, +27 82 884 5974

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road





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