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ANC ramps up anti-Israel incitement ahead of South African election

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has angered the Jewish community and opposition parties in parliament.

An African National Congress campaign poster for the May 29 South African general election.
An African National Congress campaign poster for the May 29 South African general election.

South Africans will head to the polls on May 29 in a crucial national election. Polls indicate that the ruling African National Congress party will see a substantial drop in support and is unlikely to retain a clear majority.

One likely outcome would be the formation of a coalition government.

The ANC has faced increasing criticism for its inability to rectify rampant corruption, violence and unemployment, as well as widespread water and electricity shortages.

Following the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, the ANC made its foreign policy position clear by siding with the terrorist organization and charging Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor has raised the ire of diplomats in South Africa by encouraging protests outside the embassies of what she called the “five primary supporters” of Israel and its military action in Gaza. The minister was speaking at a Palestinian solidarity event in Johannesburg on March 8.

Pandor did not name the embassies but it is believed that she was referring to those of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany France and Canada. She urged her audience to stand outside the embassies with “Stop Genocide” posters for two hours a day. Foreign diplomats have asked for police protection.

“If you have a few hours, could you take your time and just make a poster? The poster should read “Stop genocide,” and go and stand outside five embassies,” said Pandor. “There are five primary supporters of Israel; I’m not going to name them for you.”

Pandor has also threatened to arrest South Africans who serve in the Israel Defense Forces. The minister’s repeated incitement has angered the Jewish community.

‘Efforts to threaten and intimidate’

Rowan Polovin, national chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, told JNS on Wednesday, “Minister Pandor has exhibited an extreme level of hostility towards Israel, allowing her obsession with the Jewish state to overshadow all other foreign policy matters.

“Her relentless efforts to threaten and intimidate the South African Jewish community for their support of Israel are indicative of the ANC government’s strategy to scapegoat Israel, deflecting attention from its own failures, especially in the lead-up to the elections in May,” he said.

“The South African Jewish community, whose immense and longstanding contributions to the nation are undeniable, will not be cowed by the ANC government’s tactics. As proud Jews and Zionists, our community will continue to stand resolutely with Israel and support political parties that strive to build a prosperous future for South Africa, rather than undermine it,” Polovin added.

Karen Milner of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said on Tuesday that over the last six months, Pandor has consistently treated South African Jewry with contempt. 

“A significant pattern has emerged showing incident after incident of vitriol, intimidation, and even threats against South Africa’s Jewish community,” said Milner. “The Jewish community will always remember Minister Pandor for making us feel unwelcome.”

‘The ANC has run out of ideas’

In the last week, graphics and posters have been shared by the ANC and its supporters implying that a vote for their opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance, African Christian Democratic Party and others, was a vote for genocide.

Darren Bergman, Democratic Alliance shadow minister for trade and industry, said on Tuesday, “The ANC has run out of ideas and is fast using a dangerous path of scapegoating and incitement to violence as a safety net to keep its own nest feathered. The forefathers of the ANC fought against division and inequality. The most important weapon that they preached was dialogue.”

Marie Sukers, a parliamentarian for the African Christian Democratic Party from the Western Cape province who was in Israel in recent weeks as part of a solidarity delegation of South African Christian leaders, expressed her outrage to JNS on Wednesday.

“The ACDP stands for Judeo-Christian principles and has stood for these principles for 30 years. The ANC has not only befriended Hamas but defended the atrocities committed by them, a terrorist organization,” Sukers said.

“This impotent government under whose watch the killing of men, women and children count among the highest in the world, the shocking statistics on murder and gender-based violence rates in this country attest to the absolute failure of this government. We cannot allow false narratives and propaganda to distort the facts. The fact is that Hamas started this war on Oct. 7 and endangered its own population.

“The Jewish community fought for the end of apartheid, contributed to the economic development of this country for decades, creating jobs that improved the lives of thousands of South African families and given us doctors and judges, scientists and musicians to our betterment,” Sukers stressed.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry recommends that Israelis reconsider visiting South Africa against the backdrop of statements by senior officials against Israel.

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