ANC ‘puts trade ahead of solidarity’

2012-06-09 17:25

The ANC’s solidarity with Palestine is coming under fire and the party is being accused of putting trade ahead of solidarity.

In minutes from the ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting on May 18, which were leaked to City Press, the party admits it is seen as being less active in the fight for Palestinian independence than during South Africa’s struggle era. “There is a perception that the ANC is not coming out strongly on the Palestinian issue, which is a reflection of how weak the ANC’s become since moving to the corridors of power,” the party said.

“The fact that there are comrades who are doing business with Israel compromises our work on international solidarity in the Middle East,” said the ANC in its report to the NEC.

The discussion stemmed from a document prepared by religious leaders, under the auspices of Kairos Southern Africa, in which the ruling party is accused of prioritising trade ahead of political solidarity.

“People across the world, especially those in Africa as well as the Palestinian people, look to us for strong support,” the religious leaders said in their submission to the ANC.

“We come from a history where we called on the world to promote sanctions against an unjust regime and we call on the ANC to continue with this legacy to ensure that justice for people rather than trade becomes our first priority,” Kairos said in the document, titled “Word to the ANC in these times”.

Reverend Edwin Arrison, an Anglican cleric who helped draft the document, said religious leaders were worried about the ANC’s preference for trade in general.

“You have to remember this was shortly after the Dalai Lama issue (when the Dalai Lama was refused a visa due to Chinese pressure). So we said we were worried that trade with China and Israel was having an influence on our historical solidarity.”

Arrison told City Press religious leaders wanted South Africa and the ANC to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, but it had thus far refused to do so.

Presidential adviser on international relations Lindiwe Zulu, who is also a member of the ANC’s sub-committee on international relations, rejected the suggestion that the ANC was going soft on Palestine.

“The ANC position is still the same on Palestine. We sustained the solidarity when we came into government, and we are not driven by comrades who do business with government,” she said.

She added that South Africa had convinced the India, Brazil, South Africa forum to use some of the money allocated to its development fund to aid Palestinian solidarity efforts.

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