ANC government repeatedly alienates partners for development in South Africa

By Pamela Ngubane

In a heart-warming series of events, Israel has repeatedly displayed its commitment to continue growing its ties in Africa. This follows the announcement by Chadian President, Mahamat Deby, that his country would open an embassy in Israel.

The Chadian leader travelled to Israel to officiate the inauguration of the embassy in Ramat Gan in early February. Deby cited that Chad and Israel were at a decisive turning point in their relationship, during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem that week. This followed waves of peace talks in the Middle East and Northern Africa, which have resulted in a remarkable increase in economic cooperation between Israel and other states.

Back to Africa. “We believe that our co-operation can help not only advance our relations and our co-operation, but it is also part of Israel’s coming back to Africa and Africa coming back to Israel,” said Chadian President Mahamat Idriss who is seen here meeting with Israel’s State President, Isaac Herzog following the opening of the Chadian Embassy in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv.

Deby was welcomed in Israel with great diplomatic fanfare by President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for the opening of the Chadian embassy. At the time, Prime Minister Netanyahu reported that this would form part of a tremendously important relationship with a major country in the heart of Africa.

The news of Chad formalising its diplomatic ties to Israel were followed closely by reports that Israel and Sudan would sign a “historic peace agreement” in Washington in a few months’ time, indicating an irrefutable move to promote peace, dialogue and increase economic cooperation between Africa and Israel in 2023.

The Sudanese agreement is particularly noteworthy because it overturns the Khartoum Resolution of 1967, which was issued at the conclusion of the 1967 Arab League summit, convened in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in the wake of the Six-Day War. The resolution is infamous for containing what became known as the “Three Nos”:

“no peace with Israel”

“no recognition of Israel”

“no negotiations with it”

This has been comprehensively shattered this year and replaced with three Yes’s for peace.

‘Power’ to the People. Children in Iringa, Uganda, where the Israeli nonprofit organization, Innovation Africa connected a clinic to electricity via solar power, December 21, 2019. (Sue Surke/Times of Israel)

Countries in Africa and the Middle East continue to welcome Israeli technology and innovation through these historical peace agreements and talks. This is an unsurprising fact, given that Israeli solar technology now provides a stable water supply to over 3.5 million people in Africa, and to over half a million people in South Africa as well.

One would be forgiven for imagining that these developments would encourage South Africa’s national government to adopt foreign policies which would aim to promote Israel in our country as a partner for our continued development and basic service infrastructure. And yet, here we are, completely disengaged from reality. Our Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, won’t pick sides when it comes to Russia and the war it has waged on innocent civilians in Ukraine! However, when it comes to Israel, it’s always been a hard no. Why? Because Israel offers the ANC government (currently polling below 50%) with the only straw of relevance they have left to the South African electorate. And even then, it is entirely misguided and based on a narrative that has never served Palestinians or Israelis at all.

Impacting Millions. Since its inception in 2008, Israeli company ‘Innovation Africa’ with its solar and water installations, impacts millions across 10 African countries Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, South Africa, eSwatini, Ethiopia and Senegal.

South Africans have been called to categorically reject the appropriation of the suffering of black people under colonisation; and Apartheid by the enemies of Israel as a tool to de-legitimise the Jewish state. This has been communicated on a number of occasions by several stakeholders, including the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, as well as Stand With Us.

The Holy Land of Israel remains the ancestral and indigenous homeland of the Jewish people. The return en masse of Jews throughout the world to re-establish their state two thousand years of exile and statelessness, is the legitimate and legal expression of the Jewish people’s struggle for national self-determination.

Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and is home to a multicultural society where the rights of all religions, minorities, ethnicities and beliefs are protected and promoted. It is the only country in the Middle East where the population of Christians is growing and has a number of holy sites which are critically relevant to Christians and their faith.

Skewed Foreign Policy. While quick to condemn Israel at every opportunity, Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor has refused to condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine that is claiming thousands of innocent lives. Reinforcing the two country’s friendship, Pandor is seen here welcoming her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for talks in Pretoria. This February 2023, joint “war games” military exercises with Russia and China were held in South Africa.

And yet – the ANC continues to feel threatened by Israel’s growing ties in Africa. So much so, that our national government shamelessly allows the narrative of an “Apartheid state” to consume all conversations about Israel in our country.

South Africa’s foreign policy between Israel and the Palestinians should take a de-hyphenated approach if we are to contribute meaningfully to securing peace for the people living in both territories during our lifetime. This will ensure that South Africans continue to access the best that Israel has to offer, while creating a safe space for the difficult conversations that need to take place to address the senseless violence and suffering that has destroyed families across both borders to date.

At this rate, we need to start asking ourselves, as South Africans, some hard questions. Has the ANC government been captured by the BDS movement? And is BDS dictating our foreign policy to our public representatives?

About the writer:

A Social Science Honours graduate, Pamela Ngubane is a history teacher who was appointed as the Spokesperson of SAFI (South African Friends of Israel)

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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