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There are few world leaders who can hold on to true values and principles in the face of intense pressure and adversity – sometimes from comrades within their own political parties. Some, as seen here at home and abroad, are inclined to be stuck on the rigid party line or policy position, despite having misgivings about implementation and implications. Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose term of office comes to an end next year, has ruffled many feathers at home and abroad for her strong beliefs and stance on such key issues as immigration and climate change. Her efforts to...
There are few world leaders who can hold on to true values and principles in the face of intense pressure and adversity – sometimes from comrades within their own political parties.

Some, as seen here at home and abroad, are inclined to be stuck on the rigid party line or policy position, despite having misgivings about implementation and implications.

Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose term of office comes to an end next year, has ruffled many feathers at home and abroad for her strong beliefs and stance on such key issues as immigration and climate change.

Her efforts to unite the world have not gone unnoticed by the international community.

In a recent article, political scholars Richard Calland and Melanie Muller had nothing but praise for Merkel.

They said: “Merkel is one of the few global leaders left who are actively trying to secure the principle of multilateralism and the international rule of law, both of which have come under sustained attack from ultra-populist, nationalist leaders such as Donald Trump in the United States and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.”

Whenever she would be confronted on immigration and climate change policies by members of parliament in the German Bundestag during an intense question and answer session, Merkel always came out unscathed, with only nods and applause reserved for her.

If you thought xenophobia was only a South African matter, wait until you hear criticism from far-right Alternative for Germany lawmaker Gottfried Curio, asking Merkel whether she would accept personal responsibility for “crimes committed by immigrants”.

Does Curio’s posture sound familiar?

In my book, crime remains crime, regardless of who has committed it.

Facing the might of the law is what any criminal should await.

Drawing applause from the chamber, in a reply to Curio’s question, Merkel said: “I think Germany helped a lot of people in need, and that there was whole social show of support.

“At the same time, we worked on the organisation and steering of immigration, continuing to work on it, and that the numbers show that this work was not in vain.”

In another answer to a question from the Greens’ Luise Amtsberg on whether Germany would accept unaccompanied minors from the asylum camps on Greek islands, Merkel appealed to fellow European Union (EU) members not to announce a unilateral action.

“If Europe is a Europe of values, then there are demands on others too,” replied Merkel on a matter she said was being discussed at EU level.

On climate change, she has been at the forefront of support of an EU objective to reduce carbon emissions to 50-55% of 1990 levels by 2030, rather than 40% as previously announced.

Speaking her mind in taking issues head-on, without fear of a backlash from her own party – the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – has been Merkel’s style.

Accompanied by captains of industry in making a stop this week in South Africa to revive the economy by encouraging trade and investment, Merkel deserves more praise.

South Africa and Germany are both members of the G20 and nonpermanent members of the powerful UN Security Council. President Cyril Ramaphosa chairs the African Union and Merkel presides over the EU during the second half of the year.

Changing the world for the better is what should preoccupy the leaders of both countries.

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