Representatives from the Palestinian solidarity movement in South Africa met with President Jacob Zuma at his official residence in Cape Town, Genadendal on Wednesday. The 90 minute meeting on Palestine was convened in response to growing protests by South African civil society across the country.
There has been stronger pressure on the South African government since the 9th August, when almost 200 000 people participated in a protest march in Cape Town held under the banner of the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) – the largest protest march to ever be recorded in post Apartheid South Africa. These protests saw hundreds of thousands of people collectively express their solidarity with the Palestinians and condemn Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
At the meeting, calls were made for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as a “non-violent form of constructive engagement” to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of human rights and international law. The Coalition advanced the call for the recalling of the South African Ambassador from Tel Aviv and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Pretoria as forms of diplomatic protest.
“During the meeting President Jacob Zuma listened carefully to all the views presented by the various organisations and indicated a willingness to engage. The President made it clear that South Africa stands actively by the people of Palestine,” the NC4P said in a statement.
Amongst the organisations forming part of the NC4P are the Muslim Judicial Council, ANC Youth League, BDS South Africa, Cosatu and Passop. The meeting included representatives from the Jewish community that are opposed to Israel’s oppression to the Palestinians. The Coalition said it was important that the President could hear a growing alternative Jewish voice to the Zionist lobby in South Africa supporting Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
“The President explained the role South Africa is trying to play diplomatically while also acknowledging and considering our demands and not dismissing them. President Jacob Zuma also made it clear that this was an initial meeting and that it was the start of ongoing engagements with us, with another meeting scheduled in just over week,” the NC4P stated.
“We felt that the spirit of engagement was very comradely and that the President was willing to work with us, towards finding a long-term solution to achieve peace and liberation of the Palestinian people.”
The collective have meanwhile promised to increase its efforts to keep up the pressure on government and businesses through mass mobilization and public protests. It also plans to advance the current BDS campaign against Woolworths, which has been carried mostly on social media through the use of the hashtag #BoycottWoolworths. VOC