Tue, 23 Jul 2019

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor says she intends to have a discussion with President Cyril Ramaphosa about the suitability of Bruce Koloane's ambassadorship to the Netherlands in light of testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry.

At a media briefing ahead of her department's budget vote in Parliament on Thursday, Pandor said in response to a question that "with respect to Ambassador Koloane, I do think we need to have a discussion with the president. We've not had such a discussion as yet.

"It is my intention that we do discuss whether any particular action might be merited, be it some form of letter or further training or any other action the president might deem necessary.

"So it is a matter I will be taking up," she said.

Koloane, the incumbent ambassador to the Netherlands, was in the spotlight this week when he gave testimony at the commission of inquiry.

The former chief of state protocol admitted he abused the powers of his office to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013, News24 reported.

"I abused the power of my office in putting pressure on defence officials to expedite the processing of the flight clearance, but I did not have control of diplomatic channels," he told the commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Koloane also admitted lying to Major Thabo Ntshisi to process the landing request.

The controversial Gupta family landed a commercial aircraft at the Waterkloof air force base in 2013 without permission. It carried about 200 guests who were invited to attend the family's lavish wedding at Sun City.

A News24 expose in 2017 further revealed Koloane's close ties to the Guptas and that the ambassador was securing business deals for the brothers in the Netherlands. This is according to the #GuptaLeaks and a string of emails between Koloane, the Guptas and their associates.

Pandor clarified that her hands were tied.

"As you are aware, the president plays a key role in the execution of our foreign policy and international relations.

"It is the president's prerogative to appoint heads of mission, to receive foreign heads of mission, to conduct state-to-state relations, and to negotiate and sign all international agreements.

"Our mandate as the department is to work towards the realisation of South Africa's foreign policy objectives as set out by the president," the minister said.

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