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Palestine solidarity organisations call on Desai’s resignation, disregard report

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By Anees Teladia

Commenting on the recent media statement issued by a collection of Palestinian solidarity organisations, the secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in Gauteng, Roshan Dadoo told VOC that she thinks the resignation of Muhammed Desai (director of the Palestinian lobby group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – South Africa) would be the “decent thing” given the allegations laid against him.

The collective media statement comes after an investigation report into the allegations of sexual harassment was released. The report found there to be “no rational basis in law to take any disciplinary action” against Desai.

“There is no rational basis in law to take any disciplinary action against Mr Desai. The allegations against Mr Desai premised on all the statements of the complainants, their witness and Mr Jeenah’s interview cannot be sustained and are unfounded,” read a concluding statement of the report.

Dadoo, however, argues that the process was flawed and that accordingly the report is not a satisfactory resolution to the situation.

“The BDS-SA board had undertaken to speak with the complainant about how they were going to deal with the matter, which would’ve indicated they were serious about dealing with the matter in a fair and transparent way. [Instead] They went ahead on their own and appointed one investigator who then failed to interview the complainants but did interview Mr Desai… so the report is based on a flawed process,” said Dadoo.

“We think that because the process was flawed therefore the report is flawed and the issue hasn’t been resolved sufficiently.”

The media statement calls for Desai’s resignation.

When asked whether a dangerous precedent would be set by calling for an individual’s resignation before a legal verdict had been reached, or in spite of legal findings, Dadoo suggested that because Desai did not follow certain steps and does not accept certain terms, it would be the “decent thing to do”.

“I think if people are accused of such things, they should take it seriously themselves,” said Dadoo.

“We’re saying the board of BDS-SA should do the right thing – suspend Mr Desai and look again at the process that would suit both parties in the way forward.”

“If Mr Desai and the board are not prepared to accept that, we think the decent thing to do would be to resign. I think it has happened in other instances where people who stand accused of such matters feel unable to carry on with their public role within an organisation…”

According to Dadoo, the complainants had taken out a case with the police but have not received any case number and are thus unable to proceed with any legal processes.

BDS-SA declined to comment.

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