Many silly and pointless diplomatic incidents take place around the world, but the latest “investment memo” incident in SA surely takes the cake, at least for this year. The incident was sparked by the Sunday Times main story on Sunday reporting the allegation that five Western governments had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying that if he didn’t take action against the perpetrators of state capture his investment goals were likely to be thwarted. The department of international relations & co-operation (Dirco) immediately got on its high horse, significantly without checking the facts, and issued a démarche — a formal diplomatic registration of anger — against the five countries involved — the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Then on Monday, the ANC got involved and accused these “former colonisers” of a “holier-than-thou stance” and castigated their “threatening and bullying tone”. The Swiss, who have never colonised anything in their nearly thousand-...

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