DIRCO Minister Pandor places Palestinian agenda over interests of South Africans

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) is outraged at the speech DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) Minister Naledi Pandor made at the Palestinian African Heads of Mission in Africa conference, yesterday (26 July 2022). 

Minister Pandor, garbed with a Keffiyeh, used her international platform to divert and deflect from South Africa’s numerous domestic and international failures, including its support for Russia in its horrific war on Ukraine, in order to bash Israel. Pandor, who seems to have free rein to obsess about her personal vendettas, gave a speech that places South Africa at odds with the United States, the free world and the African Union.  

Pandor called the concerns that South African citizens have unwittingly spent millions of rands propping up the Palestinian embassy in Pretoria for decades as ‘selfish nationalism’. Extraordinary. Whilst she closes South African Embassies around the world, she squanders funds on a Palestinian embassy that does nothing to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans (nor Palestinians we might add). Minister Pandor must explain why taxpayers’ money is being wasted on a failing embassy that pushes an antisemitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) agenda, which is out of line with the South African foreign policy.

In her speech, Pandor positioned criticism of South Africa’s stance as being ‘false calls of antisemitism’. It is interesting how she has appointed herself an arbiter of what constitutes antisemitism over groups dealing with this issue on a regular basis. She continues to refuse to engage and pursues the biased approach that South Africa is taking in the Middle East. 

Why is DIRCO isolating South Africa from our trading partners, including the United States? Her speech goes on to attack the AU for including Israel as an observer state and for trading with Israel. She calls the important economic improvements that Israel has made with African countries as “abuse”. She has nothing to say about horrendous atrocities happening on a daily basis by South Africa’s allies in Asia and the Middle East but prefers to delude over Israel. 

While the country faces blackouts, inequality and poverty, Minister Pandor continues to play up cold war politics and issues, which damage South Africa’s global standing. She has alluded to SA being on the back foot ‘…shifting sands in the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, presents new challenges, as some countries may be considering new alliances in a changing world, we have noticed to our dismay, that countries that we had always relied upon…’ yet continues to perpetuate this state of global affairs. 

This stance that DIRCO is taking on South Africa’s foreign policy will only be to the disadvantage of South Africans. It isolates our country from the rest of the world and does nothing to promote peace and dialogue. Our foreign policy should seek to affirm our position as a major country in Africa and involve us in the peace process, and the growth of the global economy. Aligning our foreign policy with rogue actors is destructive. 

Rowan Polovin
National Chairman
South African Zionist Federation