As South Africans prepare to take to the polls in the upcoming Local Municipal Elections, many have voiced concern about the policies that the South African Government and leading political parties have adopted in response to the call for Palestinian solidarity. In a bid to grant voters clarity on the stance of the main political parties regarding the issue of Palestine, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is hosting a debate between the African national Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The debate is hailed as the first of its kind.
As one of the oldest solidarity campaign, the PSC has in recent years been actively lobbying government and allies to assist in finding a viable solution to ending the occupation of the Palestinian people. In addition, the organization in collaboration with the Muslim Judicial Council organized a solidarity march for Palestine in 2014.
Attended by close to 250 000 individuals, the march is considered the biggest post-Apartheid march to have taken place within the country. Following the March, Parliament convened a special conference on Palestine that adopted a resolution outlining South Africa’s willingness to address various issues relating to its relations with Israel.
Despite the resolution adopted by parliament in 2014, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is saying that government has made no headway in achieving the objectives stipulated within the resolution. The resolution included; the expedition of the “Gaza Docket” and the prosecution of South Africans serving in the Israeli Defence Force; the adoption by South Africa’s Parliament and by the South African government of the 2009 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report that found Israel guilty of Apartheid should, and the support by South Africa of the Palestinian-led call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Speaking to VOC, PSC representative Eddie Cottle explains that the debate was organized in response to Government’s inaction to follow through with the issues outlined within the resolution.
He says that in light of President Zuma’s actions following the 2014 march, it became evident that voters are unaware that the leader of the party that represents the struggle for freedom was openly showing support for the state of Israel.
“Zuma went to a United Nations meeting and was flown there by a Zionist of the Paramount Group and when he gave a talk at a press conference he received a standing ovation when he said that South Africa will not kick out Arthur Lenk from South Africa,” Cottle added.
Cottle says that while political parties constantly discuss the issues of Palestine, in general they do not implement viable mechanisms for recourse.
The PSC is he notes is, therefore, calling voters to use their vote as a means to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.
“In order to ensure that your vote is meaningful, you should hold political parties accountable. And that is why we are trying to provide a platform where ordinary South Africans can air their views. And, when the debate is over we will put in time frames to ensure that they account to the people.”
The panel scheduled to participate in the debate includes former MK combatant Max Ozinsky for the ANC and Nazier Paulsen for the EFF, while the DA is yet to confirm it’s attendance at the debate.
With regards to the topics and areas of concern that are to be tabled at the debate, Cottle explains that the status that Israel enjoys within South Africa, particularly within the DA camp, is expected to be addressed.
He further notes that the parties are expected to speak to their achievements over the past 20 years on the question of Palestinian liberation.
“We want to ensure that there is action in parliament and we want to ensure that the audience has a platform to raise its concerns with the panel.”
In light of the level of discussion that is expected to take place, Cottle says that the PSC has appointed Mercia Andrews and Martin Jansen to chair the debate, two individuals that he says is more than capable of handling a debate of this nature.
Date: Friday, 29 July 2016
Venue: Mowbray Town Hall