CAPE TOWN – With the date for elections, which must take place before July 2014,
fast approaching, the African Nationalist Congress (ANC) aims not only to secure
its unassailable position as the national governing party, but also wishes to
govern in each of the nine Provinces. A ferocious battle is shaping up in the
Western Cape, the only province ruled by the main opposition, the Democratic
Cape Town is South Africa’s showpiece city, due to its
well-run DA Municipality, which breaks the mold of corruption and nepotism so
prevalent in other municipalities.
Cape Town is a city that works – its
downtown area is safe and cosmopolitan, pulsating with coffee shops, clubs and
pedestrian- only streets.
Behind the scenes, but now spilling into the
public domain, the ANC is preparing a battle plan that threatens to not only
shatter the peace of Cape Town, but to fragment communities they consider to be
dispensable. Marius Fransman, leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, said the
ANC is ready for the 2014 elections and that “we have analyzed the Western Cape
and made an assessment,” which is that they require the Muslim vote to
Roughly 700,000 Muslims live in the Cape, in contrast to only 16,000
Jews. The opening salvoes of Fransman’s strategy have been to link the DA to its
alleged support of Israel, by saying “one of the main issues the DA needs to be
taken to task on is its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. We’ve seen the
DA speaking in four tongues on the issue of Palestine.”
In reality and
for obvious reasons, the DA has refrained from being sucked into Middle Eastern
politics and has steered a deliberate neutral path.
expressed his partisan support for the Palestinians on numerous occasions and in
his infamous Voice Of the Cape radio interview on February 26, in which he said
“I am also the deputy minister of international relations, and we are very
concerned about the parties in the country that have an anti-Palestinian agenda.
They want the voters from the Muslim community, but they are doing everything in
their power not to support the Palestinian people.” Fransman then ventured to
identify his party with the poor whose plight he also blamed on the DA, by
saying that the “DA has acted against the will of the poor.” He thereby tried to
reinforce what previously was a widely held stereotype – that the DA is a party
supported by mainly rich and white people.
But then Fransman got carried
away in his eagerness to win favor with the Muslims, by making an explicit
anti-Jewish remark: “We have picked up that the DA has handed over building
contracts in Bo-Kaap, in Woodstock and Observatory that were historically in the
hands of Muslims – now they have given them to the Jewish community. This is not
They must not divide our people.
We must try to unify our
Therefore, it is something that I am specifically concerned about
as the leader of the ANC in the Western Cape, and we want to warn the community
to see how best we can empower them.”
By highlighting the “plight of the
Muslim community” and then proceeding to insinuate that Jews in some way are
unjustly misappropriating what Muslims should be entitled to, Fransman
insinuates that Jews are usurpers – not true South Africans – and he fails to
acknowledge that they too have historical rights to land and contracts in these
areas. By referring to Muslims as “our people,” he clearly portrays Jews as not
our people. His statements are overtly racist and divisive and cannot be left
These utterances are consistent with Fransman’s speech to
the Muslim community n Athlone on July 14, 2012, in which he said that “economic
diplomacy could be one of the most effective weapons of change in the
Palestinian situation. Palestinians and their supporters, inspired by the
economic boycott of apartheid era South Africa, have been trying for years to
emulate our success in that terrain.
“Until now their campaign of
divestment and boycott has had negligible economic effect, but the voice of our
government could be a symbolic boost. However, I am glad to inform you that our
government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has recently, in May
2012, released a government notice... as a strategy to apply economic pressure
He then went on to note that he was “ highly inspired by the
role played by [pro-Palestinian] organizations such Open Shuhada Street, PSG,
the MJC, Al Quds Foundation and others.”
It is poignant to note that the
Al Quds Foundation does not recognize Israel even in its pre-1967 territory
(before the so-called “occupation”), as in its June 2009 editorial it blamed
Israel for “occupying Palestine for more than 60 years, [with Palestinians]
uprooted for more than 60 years, living in fear for more than 60 years. When
does it all end?” I have previously challenged Fransman about this viewpoint and
questioned whether it is official South African government policy not to
recognize Israel, in its pre-1967 borders.
With the effluxion of time,
during the 4th ANC Policy Conference at Gallagher Estate and subsequently in
December 2012 during the ANC conference in Mangaung, the ANC passed a plethora
of anti-Israel resolutions and adopted boycotts and sanctions against Israel as
official ANC policy.
There are sound historical reasons for a close bond
between the ANC and the PLO, particularly because of the PLO’s support for the
struggle against the minority apartheid regime, which are acknowledged by South
African Jews. It is, however, concerning for Jews to feel they are blamed for
the ties between apartheid South Africa and Israel, when Israel was not even
among the top 10 trading partners of apartheid South Africa.
The US and
Europe were by a long shot the largest trade partners and military equipment
suppliers of this regime. Saudi Arabia and Iraq supplied oil.
It is this
obsessional focus only on Israel’s alleged transgressions that prevents South
Africa from putting the past behind it and allowing normal trade, cultural and
social relations from developing with Israel.
The coup de grace in these
deteriorating relations is the spillover from the anti-Israel invective to the
anti-Semitic invective.The writer is chairman of the South African
Zionist Federation’s Cape Council.