DA urges diplomatic engagement amidst political opportunism

Issued by Emma Louise Powell MP – DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
16 Nov 2023 in News

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Emma Louise Powell MP, during a debate in Parliament this afternoon on the removal of the Israeli embassy in South Africa.

Please also find attached a speech by the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mergan Chetty MP.

Chairperson, let me begin by extending the Democratic Alliance’s heartfelt condolences to the family of the Office Head of the Gift of the Givers in Gaza, Mr Ahmed Abbasi. The DA once again reiterates its call for civilians to be shielded from collective punishment, and for international humanitarian law and the Protocols of the Geneva Convention to be upheld. The DA calls for an immediate investigation into the killing of Mr Abbasi, and that those responsible are brought to justice.

It is for this very reason that it is vital for South Africa to retain diplomatic channels with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The ANC’s decision to withdraw diplomats from Tel Aviv, and the EFF’s proposed expulsion of the Israeli Ambassador from South Africa, will simply diminish our country’s ability to demand accountability in the region, and to influence a swift and peaceful resolution to this abhorrent war.

Sadly, Honourable Members, in the face of this brutal war, the political opportunism on display by both the ANC and the EFF is indicative of their inherent moral bankruptcy.

Having failed to build a prosperous South Africa, these parties must now look for any opportunity to deepen divisions from which they can score cheap political points.

This is why, when the ANC and their proxies look to Gaza, they do not see human tragedy, rather, they see political opportunity.

So long as their performative sanctimony is convincing enough to temporarily distract the nation from their dismal failure as our government, they could not care less how many more Palestinians have to die.

Honourable Members, the ANC are not peace brokers, they are agent provocateurs.

They do not care about international law or human rights, they care only for their own political survival – at whatever cost.

If the ANC were genuinely interested in peace, human rights, or the rule of law, they would have spoken out against the unspeakable tragedy currently unfolding in Sudan, where more than 10 000 civilians have been killed amidst some of the most brutal ethnic cleansing the world has witnessed in a generation.

They would have stood up for the 7 million Sudanese people – 3 million of them children – who have fled into neighbouring countries seeking refuge from the violence, and now comprise the largest displaced population of children anywhere in the world.

But, despite the gravity of this tragedy unfolding on the African continent, the ANC has not only remained entirely silent, but has actively worked against advancing peace in the region.

On 11 October, South Africa abstained from a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (A/HRC/54/L.18) calling for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan.

Why? Because this same resolution called for the establishment of an international fact-finding mission to investigate the root cause of the current conflict, much of which can be traced back to the ANC’s failure to arrest Sudanese Dictator, Omar Al-Bashir when he visited South Africa in 2015, despite a warrant from the International Criminal Court.

The reign of terror dispensed by the Janjaweed – the paramilitary force deployed by Bashir during the war – is estimated to have killed more than 300 000 civilians. Instead of arresting their ring-leader, the ANC turned a blind eye as Bashir fled by helicopter.

And so, as has become their custom, when 1300 more Sudanese civilians were butchered in West Darfur over the last week, the ANC looked the other way.

Honourable Members, if the ANC were genuinely interested in advancing a human rights based agenda, our Foreign Minister would not be fraternising with Iranian President Raisi, whose government has ordered the execution of more than 1275 of their own civilians since August 2021.

She would not have telephoned and pledged her support to the leader of Hamas – who has not had a democratic mandate in Palestine since 2006. In the process she has side-lined the Palestinian Authority and the millions of Palestinians who want nothing to do with Hamas.

If the ANC cared about human rights or international law, they would not have remained silent in the face of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and the South African National Defence Force would not have been deployed to play war games with Putin’s army as the bodies continued to stack in Bakhmut.

The truth is that, the ANC is only interested in inflaming divisions to score political points.

And make no mistake, over the graves of Gaza, the ANC have spotted an opportunity and their misinformation machine is now moving ahead, full-throttle.

ANC Secretary General, seems to have forgotten that it was under his Party’s watch that more than 27 000 of our own citizens were murdered last year, and on his watch that our national rail network collapsed, and unemployment soared to 42%.

Mbalula and his proxies may have forgotten, but the people of this nation remember.

We see you, and we will continue to expose you for the hypocrites you are.

In conclusion, Chairperson, let me be clear: despite the constant stream of manufactured propaganda, the DA will continue to stand firm on principle.

We will continue to speak out against radicalism, hatred, and tyranny.

And, we will continue to call for the protection of innocent civilians, and for the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to statehood, sovereignty and security.

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