South African opposition leaders camped at opposite ends of Europe this month.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba did not go to Ukraine, but he has been out of the country all the same.
While Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen was on a fact-finding mission in wartorn Ukraine, Mashaba was in Germany at the German-African Conference of Parliamentarians.
ActionSA said his economy-class travel was paid for by German political party foundation, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), and he used his own funds to upgrade to business class.
The conference is an annual event hosted by KAS and the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung and is supported by the Africa working group of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union parliamentary group in the German Bundestag.
ActionSA’s interim national chair Michael Beaumont said Mashaba participated in a panel discussion on how a mutually beneficial relationship between Germany, the rest of Europe and Africa can help to drive inclusive growth on the African continent.
“The conference aims to build a long-term, cross-continental network and promote a value and interest-based exchange between German and African politicians. Herman was invited in his capacity as the president of ActionSA, given the long-standing relationship between KAS and ActionSA and the increasing international interest in ActionSA,” he said.
Beaumont added that the conference has been a valuable opportunity for the party to strengthen its international ties and identity partners in its project of building “an inclusive and prosperous” South Africa.
Previously, Mashaba said after his resignation as a Joburg councillor that the party’s aim would be to remove the ANC from government.
Beaumont concurred: “Our energy is focused developing a national policy offering ahead of 2024 and ensuring we are structured to deliver this offer to the doorsteps of all South Africans.”
He said the trip had been constructive and that Mashaba is on his way home and had no plans to visit Ukraine. Nobody in the party intends to venture to Kyiv.
“We do not see the purpose in such a visit. ActionSA strongly condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, as well as South Africa’s abstention in the United Nations. This position was conveyed both in the media, and in our visit to the ambassador of Ukraine.”
In a side-swipe at the DA escapade to Ukraine, Beaumont said his party believes SA politics must focus primarily on the problems of its citizens.
“As a country, we need to be realistic about our global influence and reprioritise our focus on the many pressing domestic requirements.”