South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has backed the country’s Minister of International Relations, Lindiwe Sisulu, who has come under attack for her role in downgrading South Africa’s embassy to Israel.
Sisulu has been attacked from a number of fronts, including by South Africa’s Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). Vice-president of the SAJBD, Zev Krengel, last week accused Sisulu of being “the single biggest enemy” of South Africa’s Jewish community, claiming she is “obsessed with criticizing the Jewish state [Israel]”.
The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) on Saturday said Minister of International Relations and ANC national executive committee member, Lindiwe Sisulu, would play a pivotal role in the organisation after she became a member.https://t.co/2o1zegsDun
— Afrique Panorama (@AfriqueEng) May 20, 2019
Krengel’s attack continued:
“Either the minister [Sisulu] was electioneering and trying to cozy up to the BDS-SA [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa] movement and other radical elements within the Muslim community, or she was adding to internal ANC struggles, and trying to embarrass the president [Cyril Ramaphosa].”
We shall be watching this issue very closely @MYANC @ANCWesternCape_@CyrilRamaphosa. The ANC cannot stand intimidated in the face of brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. https://t.co/v67EzD2Soz
— Ishaam Mullajee (@IMullajee) May 20, 2019
South Africa last week held its general election, during which President Ramaphosa and his ANC party were re-elected, but with a reduced majority of 58 percent.
Despite Krengel’s accusations that Sisulu was trying to weaken the ANC with her policies vis a vis Israel, the party yesterday publicly backed its minister.
The ANC said:
“Minister Sisulu’s integrity is beyond reproach […] The ANC is satisfied that minister Sisulu has recalibrated South Africa’s foreign policy so that it reflects the people of South Africa’s profound opposition to gross human rights abuses and colonial occupation of Palestine.”
Lindiwe Sisulu faces uncertain future for downgrading Israeli embassy https://t.co/JUH3jlqxtl
— ANC Media Mentions (@anc_mentions) May 20, 2019
Meanwhile the ANC’s Secretary General, Ace Magashule, also expressed his support for Sisulu, saying:
“We congratulate you, because you are moving with the collective […] Stay resolute because you are implementing the decisions of the highest decision-making body of the ANC national conference.”
Sisulu has been at the forefront of South Africa’s downgrading of relations with Israel since 2017 when the ANC decided to implement a resolution directing the government to “immediately and unconditionally downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office”.
ANC COMMITTED TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CONFERENCE RESOLUTION ON THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION
The ANC notes with deep regret and disappointment the destructive utterances attributed to Zev Krengel in the Jewish Report directed at International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu pic.twitter.com/pZz44U7d88
— ANCLimpopo (@ANCLimpopo) May 18, 2019
Last month South Africa implemented the first phase of this decision, downgrading its formerly full-service embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office – a diplomatic mission with limited functionality. Sisulu explained in a statement at the time that this office “will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development-cooperation mandate,” adding that it would focus only on “consular [assistance] and the facilitation of people-to-people relations”.
South Africa’s Ambassador to Tel Aviv, Sisa Ngombane, was also permanently recalled as part of the downgrade.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)