By Anees Teladia
The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa has slammed International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s recent remarks on Israel, calling them “unacceptable and outrageous”. At a briefing with journalists two weeks ago, Sisulu said South Africa remained open to doing business with Israel, despite vociferous calls for the government to adopt stronger action against the Zionist state.
Sisulu was commenting on the criticism against Brimstone Investment Corporation, a South African based private investment company which, along with a group of several other companies, intends to acquire shared capital of Clover Industries. This consortium is led by an Israeli-based company known as CBC (Central Bottling Company). Brimstone has now, however, opted to review its participation in the purchase of Clover, following widespread public outrage.
“There is no economic ban in this country on Israel whatsoever, and the government will allow the normal bidding processes to follow through,” Sisulu was quoted as saying.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat on Tuesday, BDS board member Muhammed Desai said Sisulu’s utterances were a cause for concern, given the ANC’s record of public statements on taking a firmer position against Israel. This was demonstrated through the recall of the South African Ambassador to Israel on the 14th May 2018, after 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli armed forces during the Great March of Return demonstrations in Gaza.
Desai said the BDS movement would be seeking urgent meetings regarding the matter as the minister is “out of step” with the ANC’s policies on Palestine and the South African Government’s position.
“BDS will be, and is, monitoring and actively challenging the issue,” he said.
Additionally, Desai mentioned the need for public pressure in ensuring public officials do not cross certain lines as far as political and public policy is concerned. According to Desai, the South African government has adopted a policy of not simply downgrading the South African embassy but also South African relations with the Israeli regime.
Furthermore, it was stated that ruling party officials have been given directives in accordance with the ANC’s public stance on the issue of Israeli relations and are supposed to be mindful of this when dealing with issues relating to Israel.
Desai, however, went on to say that there may not be a legislated ban on trade with Israel, but that the ANC mandate which outlines how Israeli relations should be conducted, needs to be respected by the Minister in the same manner that the Minister would respect mandates and policies relating to other countries such as Cuba.
BDS welcomed the outcry from Cape Town-based media and the public over the Clover issue.
“Brimstone has thus far been positively affected by the outcry from the community and we hope that the company does indeed pull out from the proposal and that the entire deal does not go through,” he added.
Desai believed that rather than the takeover being a source of foreign direct investment of benefit for South Africa, it would in fact be of no economic benefit for the South African people. Desai suggests that it is quite simply a deal that would result in profits flowing out of South Africa and into Tel Aviv.