JOHANNESBURG – As South Africans
celebrated former president Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday on July 18, paying
tribute to a man renowned as an icon of reconciliation, it would be misleading
to allow sentiment to overlook the facts about the man as politician and his
errors in judgment.
This is a particularly useful example for Israelis
and Arabs contemplating at any point their own chances of reconciliation and how
best to govern.
The first of these is that it was former South African
Communist Party leader Joe Slovo who advised Mandela to renounce violence to
achieve reconciliation. So too was it Slovo who was responsible for
incorporating a sunset clause to save the Convention for a Democratic South
That was for the African National Congress to govern in
coalition with the Nationalist Party – one which fell short of the five-year
Accompanying this was a loss of administrative capacity
based on a preferential race policy increasingly and exclusively in favor of
nonwhites that had “worked to the detriment of the country.” These were the
words of the black opposition African Christian Democratic Party.
bone of contention was Black Economic Empowerment deals, “reserved for ANC
Former ANC parliamentarian Andrew Feinstein in
his work, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, felt compelled to
trace South Africa’s unnecessary arms purchases of 70 billion rand to a
conversation between then-president Mandela and the-British prime minister John
Major, who was visiting. The latter advised Mandela that the purchases would
help raise money for the ANC.
This they did to the tune of some 3 billion
rand in bribes to the ANC itself, government officials and
Mandela’s concurrence set the stage for a saga of corruption,
fraud and racketeering that would see all three of South Africa’s presidents
since 1994 – Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and current President Jacob Zuma – answering
before the current Commission of Inquiry into the Arms Deal.
It set an
example for the ANC’s investment arm to participate in business ventures with
the state. So too did ANC government officials, in an individual capacity,
flagrantly partake in government tenders with the public blessing of
The degrees of culpability are still to be determined for the
deaths of some 365,000 AIDS patients for whom the government “had no money” – as
Mbeki protested during his tenure – to provide antiretroviral therapy. Yet the
ANC had taxpayers’ money to pay for arms, with cost taken out as a procurement
While lauded for his capacity to forgive, Mandela’s lack of
discrimination and capacity to confront spiraling violent crime at home was
evidenced in his four-year term of office.
His invitation to PLO chairman
Yasser Arafat, Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi and Cuban leader Fidel Castro to
attend his inauguration in 1994 prompted a remonstration from one of his leading
defense advocates during his treason trial, Isie Maisels. He further astounded
observers by visiting the imprisoned terrorist responsible for the Lockerbie
A breath of fresh air was welcome on June 28 in the form of a
peaceful and dignified protest, Africans for Israel, organized by the African
Christian Democratic Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party. They were joined by
the Shembe Church, estimated to have one million followers, many of them ANC
members. The ACDP in turn invited the South African Zionist Federation to join
Memoranda were handed over to Minister of Trade and
Industry Rob Davies in Pretoria and Cape Town, to cancel his initiative to label
products made in the West Bank and Gaza as products of the Occupied Palestinian
Territory, and not of Israel.
Signed by ACDP president Reverend Kenneth
Meshoe and IFP president Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the memoranda point out
that the ANC’s General Notice 379 of 2012 “has no legal basis in our law or in
international law to support this requirement.”
Buthelezi wrote in his
party’s statement: “The IFP believes the labeling is a provocation aimed at
promoting a consumer boycott. The action on the part of the Department of Trade
and Industry is not in the interests of South Africans. It reflects the
political interest of the ANC, which continues to utilize the state to pay off
its political debts, confusing the national interests of South Africa with the
private interests of the ANC.”
More condemnation by the ACDP of the ANC
followed on August 15 after Deputy Minister for International Relations and
Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim, known for blocking high-level government contact
between Israel and South Africa, was quoted in the Mail & Guardian on August
10, dissuading South Africans from visiting Israel except if involved in the
Ebrahim, laughably, was taking cues known “two-bit”
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS0 activists Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Muhammad
Desai, who thought they had achieved victory after KwaZulu-Natal mayors and
municipal officials cancelled a trip to Israel.
This was trumped by the
announcement on August 15 of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s visit to Israel
early next year at the invitation of the Israeli Embassy to promote cooperation
in rural development, agriculture and other fields.
It appears unknown to
Ebrahim that Ndlozi was suspended for misconduct by Wits University last year
for getting cleaners to upturn garbage cans on campus. Desai lied to the South
African Jewish Report during his disruption of a delegation of Israeli students
to Wits in 2011, saying he was doing two masters degrees at Wits and the
University of Johannesburg.
He in fact was only registered for a history
course at Wits.
On South African-Israeli relations, Reverend Meshoe said:
“I believe by the grace and help of God, the ACDP is going to change the wrong
direction this country has taken, make it one of the most prosperous and safe
countries in the world, and ensure that one day, Israel becomes one of the
closest allies of South Africa. I am looking forward to the day when most of
Africa will stand with Israel before I die.”
With the two-state solution
for Israel looking moribund and a single unitary state being ruled out,
consideration is being given in some quarters in Israel to the idea of a
confederation or commonwealth, comprised of Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria and
the West Bank, and possibly Jordan.
BUTHELEZI SAYS the IFP “can only
adopt a possible new stance/policy direction on the matter once we take it to
our national council, scheduled to meet on August 25-26.”
that “a confederation [or commonwealth] should only be considered if all parties
involved affirm the right of Jewish people to live in a safe and secure
The IFP currently has 18 MPs in National Parliament, 18
Members of Provincial Legislature in KwaZulu- Natal – Zuma’s stronghold – where
it is the official opposition, and one MPL in Gauteng. More than 1.2 million
people voted for the party in the 2011 local government elections.
ACDP has three MPs in National Parliament, 3 MPLs in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and
the Western Cape, and approximately 42 local government councillors throughout
Small parties – who along with the ANC lost votes in the
2009 election against the growing leading opposition party, the Democratic
Alliance – are increasingly more vocal against the ANC’s anti-Israel
pronouncements, making them attractive to disillusioned ANC members and South
Meshoe relates that “there have been talks between
opposition parties about defending the Constitution from the ANC’s attempts to
change it. There are talks in the pipeline about cooperating during the next
elections in 2014.”
Alison Goldberg is a freelance journalist for the
South African Jewish Report based in Johannesburg. She was Sanlam Financial
Journalist of the Year in 1995.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!