Representatives from South African civil society, trade unions and the ANC Youth League met with President Jacob Zuma yesterday, at his official residence in Cape Town, Genadendal.
The 90 minute meeting on Palestine was convened in response to growing protests by South African civil society across the country including a recent 9th August 150 000 person strong protest march in Cape Town held under the banner of the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) – the largest protest march to ever be recorded in post Apartheid South Africa. These protests saw hundreds of thousands of people collectively express their solidarity with the Palestinians and utter disgust at Israel’s unlawful and inhumane attacks on the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
In the meeting with the President we expressed what the hundreds of thousands of South Africans want our government to do in support of the Palestinians. We made the call and case for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as a non-violent form of constructive engagement to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing violations of human rights and international law. We further advanced the call for the recalling of the South African Ambassador from Tel Aviv and the expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from Pretoria as forms of diplomatic protest.
During the meeting President Jacob Zuma listened carefully to all the views presented by the various organisations and indicated a willingness to engage. The meeting included representatives from the Jewish community that are opposed to Israel’s oppression to the Palestinians; it was important that the President could hear a (growing) alternative Jewish voice to the one that blesses and encourages the Israeli attacks against Gaza. The President explained the role South Africa is trying to play diplomatically while also acknowledging and considering our demands and not dismissing them. President Jacob Zuma also made it clear that this was an initial meeting and that it was the start of ongoing engagements with us, with another meeting scheduled in just over week.
We felt that the spirit of engagement was very comradely and that the President was willing to work with us, towards finding a long-term solution to achieve peace and liberation of the Palestinian people. We will in the meantime increase our efforts to keep up the pressure on our government and businesses through mass mobilization, public protests and the specific advancement of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign.
The President made it clear that South Africa stands actively by the people of Palestine; in this spirit we look forward to our next meeting in a week’s time with the President.
National Coalition 4 Palestine: Reverend Edwin Arrison, 0847351835
BDS South Africa: Muhammed Desai, 0842119988
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
African National Congress Youth League (ANC Youth League)
People Against Suffering and Oppression (PASSOP)
Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL)
UCT Students Representative Council
Minara Chamber of Commerce
Kairos Southern Africa
Muslim Judicial Council
StopTheJNF (StopTheJNF is an organization initiated by Jewish South Africans committed to justice and rights for the Palestinian people)
ISSUED BY MUHAMMED DESAI (BDS SOUTH AFRICA, 0842119988)
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