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SA's problems don't seem a factor for MP

Posted Oct 24, 2019


SA's problems don't seem a factor for MP

The downgrading of the South African embassy in Israel is moving ahead says president Ramaphosa answering questions in parliament. Perhaps the more appropriate question from Munzoor Shaik-Emam would be to ask the president why SA maintains such strong relations with most of the world’s worst human rights abusers and especially gender- based violence, such an important issue in South Africa.

The president reiterated "Our approach is informed by our concern at the ongoing violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the refusal of the government of Israel to enter meaningful negotiations to find a just, peaceful resolution to the conflict” – Is it Israel’s or the Palestinian Authorities’ “refusal to enter into meaningful negotiations”. That of course depends who our government is talking to. 

However Palestinian women’s right groups continuously complain about gender-based violence within their culture and demand that the Palestinian Authority (PA) pass laws to protect them from domestic abuse and violence. Palestinian spokesperson for the Women’s Legal Counseling Center, Zainab Al-Gheimi stated a while back: ‘Married women are not forthcoming with these details about violence, probably out of shame, and because the prevailing culture forbids discussing such secrets…’ She went on to explained: “the main reason is probably that the man believes he has bought the woman and paid for her, and therefore she has become his property and must obey his orders. She clarified that unfortunately, this is the culture of the entire society, and that [Palestinian] laws give him the right of ownership, based on the man being the guardian, and he is the one who commands and prohibits.” [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 29, 2015]. 

Then again there is the gender apartheid where for the first time in decades women were permitted to attend football matches in Iran until very recently and similar restrictions imposed on the women of Saudi Arabia. Why then is the South African government and Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), whose minister and deputy minister are both women, so silent on such matters given that it is very much one of the most important topics of discourse in that country. 

Why is it that DIRCO has singled out the one and only country that conforms to the norms and laws regarding gender equality and woman’s rights amidst a sea of gender-based violence in almost every county in the same region and sees fit to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel yet maintains such warm relations with countries who are the worst offenders of not only gender-based violence but some of the worst human rights abusers in the world. Why does S. Africa continue to practice such double standards in the face of undisputable facts and where does her moral high ground give way to party bias?  


Allan Wolman

Tel Baruch, Israel