SAZF supports move to submit PAIA application to investigate political interference in SA sport 

The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) has noted the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) decision to shamelessly withdraw their Mzanzi Challenge invitation to the international qualifying team, the Tel Aviv Heats. The SAZF fully supports the South African Friends of Israel’s (SAFI) and their move to submit a PAIA application later this week, to ascertain which stakeholders were consulted in the decision making process that led to this disturbing outcome. 

A number of local, South African stakeholders, have voiced their unequivocal opposition to this degree of discrimination in South African sport. 

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) released a statement to say that SARU’s decision to withdraw its Mzanzi Challenge invitation to the Tel Aviv Heats was disgraceful and embarrassing. 

StandWithUs joined in their outrage, adding that “People of good conscience must not be silent or silenced by this dishonest, divisive decision”. StandWithUs is a non-partisan educational non-profit organisation that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism across continents. 

Former UCT Ikeys Varsity Cup-winning coach and current Tel Aviv Heat Head Coach, Kevin Musikanth, expressed that he was saddened and disappointed after the Israeli club was removed from the competition. His team added, in a public statement last week, that SARU had not consulted with them, the Israeli Rugby Union or the Israeli Embassy in South Africa prior to making their decision. 

Joel Stransky, the legendary rugby player best known for scoring the winning drop goal against New Zealand in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, tweeted his own disappointment, sharing it would have been a great opportunity to bring people together. 

What is evidently clear is that a number of civil society organisations and rugby stakeholders were never consulted by SARU in their decision making, paving a clear way for SAFI’s PAIA application later this week. While the majority of South Africans were left outraged, political parties including the ACDP and FF+ were among the public representatives to share their condemnation as well.

ACDP Deputy President, Wayne Thring, communicated that “SARU President Mark Alexander indicated that the decision to bar the Tel Aviv Heat was taken “to avoid the likelihood of the competition becoming a source of division”. However, it is the view of the ACDP that SARU became the true source of division the moment it caved to political pressure and took this cowardly decision.”

Freedom Front Plus national chairperson Anton Alberts stated that SARU’s snub of an Israeli team was nothing but political subservience and bordered on anti-Semitism, which is just as shameful as racism.

The SAZF is grateful to see the public support that has been mobilised to address this issue in South African sport. SAFI’s move to submit a PAIA application will help provide us all with an indication of who was involved in this decision making process, and if SARU allowed ANC politics and the antisemitic BDS agenda to define who is welcome to participate in sporting events in our beautiful country. 


Media enquiries can be directed to:
Omnia Strategic Counsel via +27 84 552 3122.

Note to Editors: Kindly attribute quotes to Rowan Polovin, National Chairman of the SAZF. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) protects and advocates for Israel and Zionism in South Africa. Its mission is to build support and love for the Holy Land and the State of Israel.

*IMAGE: Photograph of Tel Aviv Heats team captured by Daniel Halac Sports Photography