We only know Brexit from TV - Nkoana-Mashabane

2016-07-04 14:44
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (File, AFP)

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. (File, AFP)

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Pretoria - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday claimed to know nothing about the biggest political storm that has hit Europe in recent times.

“Brexit? We don’t know about it, we saw it on television. We hear that it will impact, when it started, negatively to our trade and investment relations with the countries from that part, but we haven’t seen real evidence," she told journalists in Pretoria.

"Maybe it is still coming. But one thing first, we are not members there [at the EU], and we can only say is viva democracy.”

This was in response to a question from journalists about whether Brexit would affect South Africa's trade relations with France, where President Jacob Zuma is expected to go on a state visit next week. 

The European Union is South Africa’s largest trading partner. On June 23, Britain voted to leave the European Union by a slim majority, leading to concerns that the EU could fall apart.

After the vote, emerging market currencies, including the rand, fell, as did major stock markets around the world. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the country’s financial and banking system could withstand such shocks.

Asked whether the possible crumbling of the EU would affect the African Union’s efforts for greater integration, Nkoana-Mashabane said the history of the AU and the EU differed. Europeans, for instance, were never colonised.

‘Not difficult’

READ: Nkoana-Mashabane's bizarre interview a 'spectacular mess'

She said the hope was still that the EU should not fail because globalisation meant people would follow work opportunities.

“So if you say you will build high walls to stop them, I don’t know how practical that is,” she said.

"Some systems and infrastructure were different in Africa. We are not at the level where we can be saying the union of those who colonised us is falling apart, so stop integrating,” she said.

She said in terms of language, Africans were more integrated than Europeans, because many languages had similar roots and could be understood across the region.

“If it has taken the EU so many years with so many different languages, it shouldn’t be so difficult for us, because the borders we have were not created by us,” she said.

Zuma, Nkoana-Mashabane and other ministers were expected to attend the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, next week.

Read more on:    maite nkoana-mashabane  |  brexit

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