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BDS meet Woolies face to face

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Representatives of BDS South Africa met with a delegation of Woolworths for the first time on Tuesday at the offices of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town. The meeting was convened following a recent South Gauteng High Court order, which compelled the company to sit around the table with the activists, to discuss the contentious boycott against the retailer.

BDS South Africa said the meeting  was conducted in “a frank and cordial manne”r. While agreement was not reached on some of the fundamental issues involved, there was consensus that the conversation between the parties will continue. BDS and the Pro Palestinian movement have been engaged in an ongoing boycott against the retailer to pressure it to stop selling Israeli goods, in protest against the Zionist state’s occupation of Palestinian.

Speaking after the meeting, Mthunzi Mbuli of BDS South Africa said:

“The core demand communicated – and which still remains – is that Woolworths ends its trade with Israel and that all goods currently imported from there be procured elsewhere, for example from local suppliers. While the conversation is ongoing between the parties, the #BoycottWoolworths campaign continues and must be intensified on the ground.”

Meanwhile, some pro-Palestinian activists are not letting up on protest action, as in-store demonstrations continued over the weekend. From reports, there were allegedly at least two in-store “till-jams”, one in-store flash-mob and various protests at Woolworths stores across the country.

“Till jams” are a tactic inspired by the 1980s anti-apartheid movement, which sees activists and consumers filling their trolleys and leaving them at the check-out stands.

Till-jams were allegedly carried out, in support of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign at the Greenside, Killarney Mall, Main Street, Cresta branches of Woolworths in Johannesburg. A walk-through was carried out at the Pavilion branch of Woolworths in Durban and protests were held at stores in Cape Town including in Athlone, Kromboom and Mitchell’s Plain.

Some activists allegedly wore ANC and SA Communist Party (SACP) T-shirts at these protest actions while others it would seem belonged to various Palestine solidarity organisations. BDS South Africa confirmed it was not part of this weekend’s demonstrations and other in-store protest actions.

BDS South Africa said it had agreed “in good faith” to tone down on various in-store protest actions as part of the court order. The court order, however, does not extend to other organisations or individuals which are not a part of BDS South Africa.

The National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P) said it intends on intensifying and escalating the #BoycottWoolworths campaign during the festive season. Reports indicate that other organisations belonging to the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P) will also be increasing their #BoycottWoolworths protest actions in the upcoming Christmas period.

The #BoycottWoolworths campaign was launched in August 2014 by the National Coalition 4 Palestine (NC4P), BDS South Africa, COSATU, ANC Youth League, MJC and various other organisations. The #BoycottWoolworths campaign is calling for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links. VOC

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