A family negotiates their way through caked mud around a dried up section of the Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 20, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE HUTCHINGS)
ANC Western Cape legislator Sharon Davids has accused the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s main opposition party that governs the province, of fabricating the “Day Zero” water crisis in order to obtain desalination contract kickbacks from what she referred to as the “Jewish mafia.”
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies and its Cape Council branch strongly condemned “the reprehensible statements” from Davids.
The Jewish groups also condemned attempts since the incident made by Provincial Secretary Faiez Jacobs of the African National Congress to justify the statements.
Davids on Friday claimed that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille “had it in for [Cape Town Mayor] Patricia [de Lille] after she stood up to her about this land in the Jewish area,” in reference to the sale of land in the Sea Point area to the Phyllis Jowell Jewish Day School.
“Premier Helen Zille is too much in love with the Jewish mafia,” Davids stated in the Western Cape Legislature.
She also said that Democratic Alliance and opposition leader Mmusi Maimane’s close relationship with DA MP Michael Bagraim, who spent time on the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, was “proof” the DA was favoring Jews.
Davids added that former DA leader Tony Leon, who is also Jewish, is involved in City of Cape Town’s communications and was hired to communicate the party’s “Day Zero doomsday message to make people upset.”
The Jewish Board of Deputies’ Cape Council branch wrote to Jacobs about the antisemitic remarks and received the following response: “Antisemitism is, however, not a scaremongering tool to whip others in line and to prevent them from interrogating the truth. If there is an illicit relationship between DA and some Jewish-aligned formations for whatever reasons, such must be interrogated without fear or prejudice.
“We will, therefore, be talking to Sharon Davids to understand the context in which the remarks were made. A full statement will be released after the engagement with Davids,” the provincial secretary said.
RAEL KAIMOWITZ, chairman of the Jewish Board of Deputies’ Cape Council, said that “such allegations amount to a racist smear campaign against the Jewish community.
“The surfacing of such clearly antisemitic conspiracy theories are particularly disturbing in view of the very difficult situation that the people of Cape Town find themselves in and the potential this creates for seeking convenient scapegoats for what has gone wrong,” Kaimowitz said.
Davids has since attempted to backtrack on her remarks, claiming that she had referred only to a “foreign-based company” and “Israel-based people.” However, this is belied by her own words. Davids referred to a “Jewish mafia.” She further attributed the opposition to de Lille within the Democratic Alliance to the fact that she had opposed the award of a property to the Jewish community for purposes of building a Jewish day school.
“Instead of outright condemnation of Davids’s bizarre statements, Jacobs has effectively supported her,” Kaimowitz said.
“Suggesting that her antisemitism is a result of something that Jews have done is a classic form of racist victim blaming. The ANC of Nelson Mandela is not antisemitic. It is a movement that has always prided itself on its unequivocal repudiation of any form of racism and related bigotry, yet, we see Ms.
Davids propagating such theories: In terms of what she claims, the Democratic Alliance is supposedly pursuing a pro-Jewish agenda against the best interests of the greater population of Cape Town. These allegations are factually incorrect and amount to a racist smear campaign against the Jewish community.”
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies said that this was not the first time that ANC leaders in Western Cape province have made antisemitic comments that have gone unchallenged by the ANC. “In the past, the ANC has failed to condemn them or even distance themselves from such inflammatory remarks.
“We urgently call on the ANC nationally and in the Western Cape to show it is genuinely committed to fighting racism in whatever form it arises,” Kaimowitz said.
“The ANC must distance itself from these remarks and justifications and speak out clearly that this is an unacceptable narrative.
As always, we are available to engage on this issue,” he added.