Opinions are divided on reports that the ANC-led government are contemplating a ban on dual citizenship for South African nationals, aimed at curbing South Africans from taking up arms with foreign military forces, in particular the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). While some sectors of the pro-Palestinian lobby have welcomed the move, there is also a degree of concern that the ban will have negative implications for regular South Africans who harbour no intention of fighting abroad.
Shaheed Mahomed of the Action Forum for Palestine said the timing of the reports were somewhat opportune, especially with local government elections set to take place next year. With the ANC-government’s reputation already reaching rock bottom amongst activists over a perceived “inactivity” during last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, he questioned whether the move was simply an election stunt.
“They sat with folded arms and did nothing at all. We gave them a couple of names to investigate, we have all the evidence that they were complicit in the military invasion and yet the government has done nothing,” he said.
This is not the first time government has been accused of turning a blind eye to the lobby’s calls. Mahomed referenced Israel’s 2008 military campaign in Gaza at which point “more than 100 names were handed to government”, all SA nationals accused of fighting within the ranks of the IDF.
“One has to question if the government is really sincere about it. They’ve got strong legislation such as the foreign military assistance act. They could use it, they’ve got all the armaments in terms of the root laws to prosecute, yet they aren’t doing anything,” he claimed.
He further suggested the move would have negative implications for activists working with communities to fight injustices within South Africa.
Yousha Tayob of the Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA), which tabled the ‘Gaza Docket’ of 73 South Africans accused of fighting alongside the IDF during recent conflicts in Gaza, was somewhat on the fence. He agreed that the implications of the decision could potentially go beyond simply curbing foreign fighters.
“International anti-terrorism legislation has now warranted the introduction of stricter laws pertaining to it, and I have no doubt that the number of foreigners serving in Islamic or other organisations are also part of the agenda,” he warned.
While any such legislation would be welcomed by the MLA, Tayob said they hoped it would in effect be retrospective, again alluding to the Gaza Docket.
A report in the Sunday Times on the proposed legislation also stated that government would seek to limit private sector ties with Israel. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)