Archive from April, 2015
Apr 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Malusi Gigaba and all those before him at Home Affairs.

20 April 2015, News 24
South Africa after 1994, well that is what everyone outside of our borders thought, was the haven to ‘flee to’ as employment, opportunities to make lots of money would be in abundance and our borders became ‘free for all’ to enter with the birth and introduction of democracy in our country.
This being in strict contrast to what the situation was prior to 1994 when there was some kind of influx control into the country, and because of that policy being in place to control it, job opportunities were in abundance, irrespective of race, greed or colour, and the unemployment rate amongst all of the citizens, irrespective of colour or creed, in the country was a mere 5.8% yet what counted against us was the fact that the majority were being discriminated against because of their skin colour and had no say in the running the country or could vote. This was wrong and had to be corrected, and for that we have to thank one man, and that man was Nelson Mandela, whom had served 27 years of his life in prison, but still retained his dignity and realized that the only way that ‘things would work in this country’ would be through reconciliation where there was no place for hatred and all of those things that were part and parcel of a system that discriminated against people of his own race, creed and colour.
During the time of his tenure we were living in situations of peace and tranquility, but the moment that he laid down the scepter to lead the country the problems started.
He was succeeded by Thabo Mbeki whose Deputy was Jacob Zuma. He then later sacked Jacob Zuma because of his ‘inappropriate relationship’ as viewed by the Judge in the case against Shabir Shaik, and then Polokwane happened – Thabo Mbeki despite being in the race for presidency was defeated and Jacob Zuma was elected as our new President.
The people at the time thought many things would be better, and even Julius Malema at the time admitted that he would ‘physically kill for Jacob Zuma’. How things have changed to what he says now?
And then the realities of the situation set in.
Maladministration, mismanagement, corruption, nepotism, cronyism became the flavour of the day, with the president even in his personal capacity being accused of having committed 763 fraudulent actions but through his personal and ‘other connections’ manipulated that he never ‘had his day in court’ to this day and 763 people still remain as victims at his hand and through his actions.
And now the appropriate question would be, but what has Malusi Gigaba have to do with all of this?
Well since 1994 the Department of Home Affairs have had so many Ministers all of whom have tried unsuccessfully to get the Department of Home Affairs to ’actually work’ and all of them having failed dismally in their duties and the mess just got bigger and bigger by the day, and with the influx of foreign nationals into the country and the Department not being able to process documentation, be it exile status or whatever, the Department became the breeding ground for corruption where officials within the Department all had a ‘price’ for giving ‘Identity Document, Refugee Status and even Exile Status’ to all and everyone that had the right colour and denomination of ‘money’ to pay for it.
And the end result of it all is a situation where our country is filled to capacity with foreign nationals, all of whom are trying to now make money in the democracy that came about in 1994, and after which they thought that the opportunities in the country would be abundant for them to make a living but in reality never happened.
And then the unemployment in the country rose to a staggering 28% amongst all races and to 38% amongst the youth the future leaders of the country and an economy that was previously growing at 6% or more, now slipped down the drain and currently only growing at 1.2% with some months even having negative growth figures.
Where in 1994 South Africa had no foreign debt and we had a favourable trade balance in that our exports were more than our imports the situation has since made a 360o turnaround, and now we have borrowed so much money from overseas financial institutions that the interest alone on the loans amount to a staggering R 100 000 000 000.00 per annum that is R 100 billion per year and our trade balance is negative in that we import more than we export, as exported goods are cheaper, because we introduced minimum wages, which makes our local products so expensive that the imported ones can not be afforded by the people with their meager disposable income that citizens of this country now have and unemployment being the flavour of the day.
Where previously the only grant that was paid by government was an old age pension, and now we have over 16 million people getting state grants, thinking that it is the ANC that it has to thank for it, but the real contributors to state coffers in order for them to pay such grants, are the loyal tax payers (5% of the population) that contribute to such an extent that the budget of the country is financed, the interest on loans can be paid, the grants (all of them can be paid) and once again people through the lack of their education that they cannot afford are manipulated to believe everything that they are promised prior and before each and every election by the ruling government is nothing but ‘empty promises’
And now we have ‘xenophobia’, which according to the English Dictionary is hatred against foreign nationals, those foreign nationals that provided a service of supplying goods at reasonable and affordable prices, but the ‘xenophobia’ is but a mere maître for ‘common criminality’ to gain a disposable income to support in many cases their substance abuse, and in a some extreme circumstances a situation to support their families.
To even call it African nophobia is but an exact example of how the government of the day interprets the situation and tries to cover up for all of its failures in the ruling of this country.
Having received a country that was working on a ‘silver platter’ and ruling it into the doldrums that we are in where government cannot even account for the R 800 (that is R 800 000 000 000.00) billion rand that it spent in the 20 years of governing this country is to say the least governing without accountability.
‘Common criminality’ is the only appropriate word to explain the attacks on all of the foreign nationals, as most of the ones that are active in it, doesn’t even understand the proper meaning of ‘xenophobia’ and accusing the foreign nationals for stealing their jobs! What jobs I dare to say? – One man or as in this case two men fueled it and now we have total disaster in every possible way.

Apr 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South African Jews slam Israel for banning minister

April 28, 2015, Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.
Two countries ‘should encourage greater interaction, lift restrictions,’ say Zionist Federation and Board of Deputies, in rare critique of Jerusalem
South Africa’s leading Jewish organizations on Tuesday criticized the Israeli government for denying entry permission to a South African cabinet minister, saying they prefer interaction and dialogue.
The rare note of criticism came after Pretoria Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and three aides were refused permission by Israel to visit their Palestinian counterparts in Ramallah via Jordan. The officials were forced cancel their travel plans after they were not issued the necessary paperwork to pass through the Allenby crossing, which Israel controls.
“This is most regrettable,” the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the country’s Zionist Federation said in a joint statement, noting their “concern” over Jerusalem’s move.
Both organizations have “long argued that regular interaction between Israel and South Africa and mutual visits of political leaders, parliamentarians and government officials, as well as business people, media, tourists and family visits, are to the benefit of both South Africa and Israel and foster greater understanding between the two countries,” the statement read.
“We believe both countries should encourage greater interaction at all levels and lift restrictions in this regard, in the interests of relations between Israel and South Africa and the broader interests of peace and stability.”
Despite the Israeli ban, Nzimande will “definitely” visit Ramallah, though how he will get there has yet to be established, his spokesman Alex Mashil told The Times of Israel on Monday.
Pretoria might “take action” if the ban is not lifted, he threatened.
“We will not allow Israel to determine for us which minister in the cabinet can or cannot visit Palestine. That undermines our sovereignty and national self-determination and we will not allow it,” Mashil said.
Nzimande reacted furiously to Israel’s refusal of a visa, calling it a “declaration of diplomatic aggression on our government” and vowing to intensify nationwide efforts to boycott Israel.
The leader of South Africa’s Communist Party, Nzimande is known to be ferociously critical of Israel, but other senior South African officials with similar views have been receiving visas in recent months, including Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, the head of the ruling ANC party’s international relations committee.
In their statement, the two Jewish organizations said it is “most unfortunate” that South Africa has recently “imposed restrictions on the free movement of officials between this country and Israel, and thereby on opportunities to engage in regular consultation and dialogue in the interests of peace and stability” between Israelis and Palestinians.
The statement was likely referring to a 2013 interview by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in which she said that it was now Pretoria’s policy that government ministers do not visit Israel.
“Our Palestinian friends have never asked us to disengage with Israel [through cutting diplomatic relations]. They had asked us in formal meetings to not engage with the regime,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at the time. South Africa has “agreed to slow down and curtail senior leadership contact with that regime until things begin to look better,” she said.
The minister’s comments caused a stir, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, accusing Pretoria of “creating an atmosphere of anti-Israeli sentiment and anti-Semitism that will make a pogrom against Jews in the country just a matter of time.” The South African government later asserted that it had not imposed “a ban on travel to Israel by government officials.”
“The culture of dialogue and engagement is something that is deeply embedded in South Africa’s recent history of peaceful democratic transition, and we know that any future resolution of the problems between the Palestinians and the Israelis will only be successful and lasting if there is dialogue and mutual understanding,” the Jewish group’s joint Tuesday statement read.
“The practice of discouraging interaction between South African officials and their Israeli counterparts is contradictory to the way South Africa has traditionally engaged in conflict resolution, both domestically and in its foreign policy in general.”
Last year, South Africa’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, Sisa Ngombane, told The Times of Israel that he was actually exerting “pressure” on Pretoria to send ministers to Israel. “South Africa has always had a view that sometimes it’s better to talk to the people, even the people we’re not going to agree with on every point… For us, it is important that we keep the engagement, keep the discussions going.”
Nzimande, the higher education minister, was meant to meet with his Palestinian counterpart, Khawla Shksheer, to discuss the implementation of a memorandum of understanding between Ramallah and Pretoria signed in November by presidents Jacob Zuma and Mahmoud Abbas, Mashilo, hisspokesperson, said.
“This cooperation agreement has to be taken forward, whether the Palestinian minister comes to South Africa or the South African minister comes to Palestine. But we will not abandon our quest to demand the right to visit Palestine,” Mashilo said.
Nzimande and three aides had attempted to reach Ramallah via Jordan, but as Israel controls the border crossings into the West Bank, the South African delegation asked for visa permits. The minister had no intention of meeting with any Israeli officials, Mashilo confirmed.
“Israel has no right to determine who the Palestinians associate with,” he told The Times of Israel. “We experienced apartheid in the past. We can’t let that happen again.” Restricting access to the Palestinian territories constitutes a violation of international law, which Pretoria was unwilling to accept, he added, threatening to “take action” if Israel upholds its policy.

Apr 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Failure to manage inflow of immigrants cause of violence – MP

29 Apr 2015 00:00 Thulani Gqirana – Mail & Guardian
Some pressing issues were raised by members of Parliament from various committees on Tuesday during the portfolio committee on home affairs meeting, which focused on the challenges of xenophobia and the looting of foreign-owned shops.
Almost 3 000 foreigners, most of them from KwaZulu-Natal, have been repatriated since the start of the xenophobic attacks. But some questioned: What is the government now doing to ensure the violence is curbed?
And why are the 333 874 foreigners who have overstayed their permits not kept better track of? Where are the Nigerians and Somalians and why are they not named in any of the statistics of foreigners leaving the country, when they are involved in business in South African townships?
The meeting was attended by the home affairs deputy minister, Fatima Chohan, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and various department heads. The session was also open to other committees, including police, justice and correctional services and small business.
Root cause
Major General Charl Annandale said the situation was being monitored constantly and that there had been very few incidents in the past 10 days.
Modiri Matthews, a chief director at the home affairs department, said 2 767 foreigners had been repatriated, with 2 665 from KwaZulu-Natal and 102 from Gauteng. Most of those sent home were Zimbabweans, followed by Malawians. He said repatriation would continue on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The majority of the displaced persons who are undocumented claim to have lost their documents during the incidents and a number of them indicated they wanted to return. So far, only one Ethiopian national, 63 from Burundi and 221 from the Democratic Republic of Congo actually had documents.”
Democratic Alliance MP Haniff Hoosen said the root cause of the xenophobic attacks was that the home affairs department had failed to make an investment in the inspectorate division.
“That is the division that is supposed to police illegal immigrants in the country. We have failed to control the influx of illegal foreigners into the country, and we have failed to control and manage the flow of illegal foreigners out of the country and that is the root cause. Everything else is just consequences of the root cause.
“Because, you see, anywhere in the world, when a government fails to implement its own laws, then the society will take the laws into their own hands and that is what is happening now. Because we failed to implement the immigrations regulations, people take the law in their own hands because they have no confidence that the government is implementing its own laws.”
Tax and the spaza owner
Chohan, in response to Hoosen, said leaders had to send a clear message that violence was unacceptable under any circumstances.
“No matter what the reason is – that we as leaders will not tolerate violence being unleashed against people, whether they are illegal or not. When people are attacked, nobody knows their status. We must stand together as leaders and absolutely in one voice condemn this resorting to violence to solve our problems,” said Chohan.
Asked about the tax compliance of spaza shops, the enforcement of laws and their registration as business owners, Zulu said those were some of the problems they faced and were hard to police.
“I think many of the small spaza shops do not necessarily pay tax but the registration thereof is very important for us. Where are they operating?
“It is a mammoth task for us to begin to do, which I believe we cannot do on our own. Because, under normal circumstances, the compliance not only starts with the people running their businesses but those renting out their homes. That is the education we need to make sure happens because that is where the competition and conflict starts.”
The minister reiterated that she believed there was a great deal that South African small business owners could learn from their foreign counterparts.
Fingering the media
Zulu said there should be engagement with the media when it came to running adverts for illegal and immoral businesses, including healers and abortion clinics.
Small business portfolio committee chairperson ANC MP Ruth Bengu tore into the media, saying reporters and editors had to think of the consequences of what they reported.
“The media that reported on what was said by the king [Goodwill Zwelithini] of the Zulus have a right to report on issues and events, the media also has a responsibility to think about the possible consequences of the angle that they take when reporting on issues.”
Some believe his utterances incited the violence against foreigners in the country.
“Before you become a reporter in the media, you are a South African. Before you focus on selling the news, you must also think of what could be the consequences of what I am reporting about. I did not hear what the king has said, and all I heard was what was reported in the media to have allegedly caused the violence. If there was responsible reporting, any editor could have seen the possible consequences of spreading that message. We all have rights in the country, and we all have responsibilities of building this country, whether you are a media reporter or a pure South African.”

Apr 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Parliament diary: Nation’s lawmakers crunch some xenophobia numbers

Rebecca Davis – 28 Apr 2015 – Daily Maverick
While ministers in Pretoria were announcing the launch of Operation Fiela, Parliament was playing host to a meeting bringing together officials from the South African Police Service as well as the departments of home affairs and small business. MPs got some much-needed facts and figures about foreign nationals in South Africa, the numbers of those being repatriated after the recent violence, and whether it’s true that nobody ever gets prosecuted for xenophobic violence.
A police task team has decided what’s to blame for the latest burst of xenophobic violence – and it’s not immigration policies.
Top officials from the ministries of police, home affairs and small business were in attendance on Tuesday, when Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs hosted a special report-back session on “violence against foreign nationals and related small business”.
The chair of the police’s ‘priority committee on foreign nationals’, Major-General Charl Annandale, led MPs through an assessment of the most recent outbreak of xenophobic violence. He stated definitively that the recent attacks were sparked by “a labour dispute over the employment of foreign nationals at the KwaJeena Store in Isipingo”. Absent was any mention of the controversial comments made by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini in March.
Annandale identified six root causes for the attacks, three of which took in various forms of rivalry between South Africans and foreigners over access to resources, employment opportunities and business. Local government was fingered as playing an indirect role by failing to regulate the registration of businesses. Some foreign nationals were stirring the pot through their involvement in criminal activity – “inter alia drug trafficking and trading in stolen goods”.
The last group with blame to shoulder was South African social media users, for “incitement and the spreading of misinformation”.
During subsequent discussion, one portfolio committee member suggested that missing from the list of root causes were the conditions in other African countries that prompted their citizens to flock to South Africa.
Others argued that the obvious missing bullet points from the list were to do with the failings of home affairs. One MP said that there was only one real root cause to the violence: that home affairs had not invested in its inspectorate division sufficiently in the past, breeding a context in which foreign nationals could remain in South Africa indefinitely without the necessary documentation.
Home affairs deputy minister Fatima Chohan strongly warned against this line of thinking. “I hope we’re not saying that this is why people resort to violence,” she said. “I think we must be very clear as leaders that violence is unacceptable under any circumstances… When people are attacked, nobody knows their [residence] status.”
Chohan pointed out that the best-resourced immigration authority in the world is that of the US, but that they too experience huge difficulties in trying to control the influx of migrants. Home affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni voiced similar sentiments. He said South African home affairs have 10,000 staff members to deal with 52 million citizens. By contrast, the SAPS had 200,000 staff members at its disposal. The City of London alone, he said, has 3,600 people working for its inspectorate; home affairs in South Africa have 700 in total.
Apleni also defended home affairs on the grounds that whenever the department proposes or implements measures to cap immigration, they are met with public resistance. When home affairs decreed that children travelling into the county should have an unabridged birth certificate, “there was an outcry”. When the department said that people overstaying their visas would be declared undesirable regardless of financial status, “there was an outcry”.
Home affairs’ Modiri Matthews had earlier given the committee some figures as to numbers of foreign nationals working in South Africa. Between 2010 and 2015, he said, there was a total number of 889,943 foreigners working legally in the country, of which around half had been granted work permits.
Refugees accounted for 104,332 of the total figure, with asylum seekers making up 273,563. There were 77,398 permanent residence-holders.
Matthews also said, however, that over 300,000 people had overstayed the time legally permitted to them in South Africa over that period. MPs suggested that home affairs were not doing enough to have these over stayers identified and removed.
In the wake of the violence, of course, some foreign nationals have volunteered to go home. Matthews said that a total of 2,767 foreigners had opted for voluntary repatriation from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The majority of these were Malawian, and all were returned home via bus.
It’s not yet clear what long-term impact the violence might have on nationals from other African countries entering the South Africa. When looking at the number of arrivals from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the numbers for April thus far are fairly significantly down from March. As Matthews pointed out, however, this can’t be taken as meaningful until April is over. In total, 20,438 nationals from those countries arrived in South Africa in the whole of March, whereas 13,533 did so in the period from 1 – 21 April only.
Chohan said that part of the challenge faced by home affairs was that the department’s current incarnation only came into being in the democratic era, when South Africa stopped being an international pariah.
Prior to 1994, she said, “we were a police state and our defence force operated along our borders and very often beyond. This effectively served to mitigate illegal migration”.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: one of the government’s first moves in the current crisis was to deploy the military to patrol the South African border.
Chohan also suggested, however, that legal measures to curb immigration could only go so far in combating xenophobic violence. Part of the problem, she said, was that South Africans and foreign nationals “don’t get a chance to know each other”. Chohan said that because many Somalis don’t drink, for instance, they don’t have the opportunity to engage with locals at shebeens. “Platforms for socialising” need to be created, she suggested.
The deputy minister also reiterated President Jacob Zuma’s view that the government may have erred in the wake of 2008’s xenophobic violence by not clearly communicating the prosecutions and penalties for that violence.
“This is a very very serious matter and it is criminal in nature,” Chohan said.
In response to her invitation to supply the necessary figures, Annandale told the committee that in 2008, the 102 accused of various forms of xenophobic activity received on average three to six year sentences, with some much longer (including a life term). This time around, 309 arrests have been made so far.
Outside a few special sittings of committees like this one, Parliament is a quiet place to be this week. It’s an indication of how seriously xenophobia is being taken on this occasion that Parliament has suspended its usual business, with the intention that MPs will use the time to go into their constituencies and work with communities on mitigating anti-foreigner sentiment. DM

Apr 29, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

333 874 foreigners have overstayed their welcome in SA – police

2015-04-28 16:00
Philda Essop, Media 24 Parliamentary Bureau
Cape Town – Since 2010, a total of 333 874 foreigners have overstayed their welcome in South Africa, Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday.
In contrast, 889 943 foreigners were working legally in the country over that period. Since attacks on foreigners began earlier this month, 2 767 foreigners were voluntarily repatriated to Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
This emerged on Tuesday during a briefing of Parliament’s home affairs and police portfolio committees by the home affairs department.
Attacks on foreigners erupted earlier this month in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to Gauteng. Foreign-owned shops were looted and petrol-bombed. At least seven people have been killed and scores injured and displaced.
The police’s head of special operations, Major General Charl Annandale, told MPs that attacks on foreigners had decreased over the last 10 days.
He said causes of the violence included competition for access to help, work and business opportunities, failure to regulate businesses at a local level, the involvement of foreign communities in drug dealing and trade in stolen goods, and the spreading of false information on social media.
The police’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure and similar structures at provincial level had been meeting twice daily as part of government’s plan to stop the attacks. The plan’s aims included ensuring safety and security and international co-operation, and providing humanitarian aid.
Authorities were being deployed to hot spots daily, special courts had been established, shelters set up, and dedicated investigators put to work. All intelligence agencies had prioritised gathering information on attacks against foreigners.
Opposition parties wanted information on the costs of the plan and criticised home affairs for not investing enough in its inspectorate, which enforces immigration laws.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Johannesburg raids target foreigners

by Ntwaagae Seleka, April 28 2015, Business Day
MIGRANTS who were not in possession of permits were arrested on Monday as a result of site visits to Mayfair and Hillbrow in Johannesburg by military personnel, police officers and Department of Home Affairs officials.
In Mayfair, Johannesburg, African immigrants implored fellow foreign nationals to make sure they were in possession of the relevant permits to stay in the country.
During the daytime raid, East African nationals welcomed the joint operation in the area. The authorities’ actions were intended to clamp down on undocumented foreign nationals and weed out criminal elements.
An Ethiopian businessman operating in the suburb, Mohammed Rashad, applauded the presence of law enforcement agencies on Monday and called for similar activity in future.
“We thought xenophobia was back and closed our shops. We became comfortable when we saw all of them here, including home affairs officers,” he said.
Police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said similar operations would be conducted in other parts of the city. No one was arrested during the Mayfair raid.
In another blitz in Hillbrow, 50 suspected illegal immigrants were detained, the police said.
Mr Dlamini said: “The people we arrested were not in possession of the correct papers. We have handed them to officials at home affairs for processing.”
Asked what prompted the raid, he said: “We were conducting an ordinary crime-prevention exercise and operations will continue elsewhere.”
No possessions were confiscated during either operation.
Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete was not immediately available last night to comment on the legal status or the nationalities of the migrants who were taken into custody.
SA has been gripped by a wave of xenophobic violence that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to parts of Gauteng.
A speech made by King Goodwill Zwelithini during which he is said to have likened foreign national to “lice” and called for them to leave the country, has widely been cited as a possible cause of the latest occurrence of violence directed at mostly African migrants.
Hundreds of African migrants have been displaced by the violence with most having lost the bulk of their possessions.
The government has set up makeshift camps in KwaZulu-Natal for those who have been displaced by violence in the province.
Dozens of other migrants have been bused home.
The diplomatic fallout from the violence has seen Sasol and Irish firm Kenmare repatriate their South African workers from operations in Mozambique in fear of reprisal attacks. Protests have been reported in Malawi.
Also, last week reports surfaced of four men threatening the South African diplomatic mission in Ghana. There have also been calls to boycott South African firms and products in the wake of the violence, which has claimed seven lives so far.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South African minister vows to visit Ramallah despite Israeli ban

Pretoria will ‘take action’ if Blade Nzimande not allowed to enter Israel, spokesman says
By Raphael Ahren April 27, 2015, The Times of Israel
A South African minister who planned to visit Ramallah but was denied entry permission by Israel insists that he will visit the Palestinian Authority nonetheless.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande will “definitely” visit Ramallah, though how he will get there has yet to be established, his spokesman Alex Mashil told The Times of Israel on Monday. Pretoria might “take action” if the ban is not lifted, he threatened.
“We will not allow Israel to determine for us which minister in the cabinet can or cannot visit Palestine. That undermines our sovereignty and national self-determination and we will not allow it,” Mashil said.
Nzimande maintains that the Israeli government cannot intimidate him and therefore “he wanted to rebel against them,” sources close to the issue told the South African newspaper The Citizen.
Last week, Nzimande — the leader of the South African Communist Party — reacted furiously to Israel’s refusal of a visa, calling it a “declaration of diplomatic aggression on our government” and vowing to intensify nationwide efforts to boycott Israel.
Israeli officials confirmed that Nzimande had been denied entrance but did not specify a reason. The South African minister said he was told the reasons for the ban related to his anti-Israel agitation. Jerusalem had labeled him an “enemy of Israel,” his spokesperson told The Citizen.
One Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, recalled that Nzimande and his party last year vocally called on the government in Pretoria to deny an entry visa to the Dalai Lama, citing their good ties with China. Last year, the South African Communist Party accused the Tibetan monk of using his planned (and ultimately canceled) trip “to use the political prestige of visiting South Africa to try and legitimate his secessionist agenda.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday called the minister’s response “hypocritical,” saying that there is much racism and xenophobic violence in South Africa and that the government and the Communist Party “should stop preaching to and attacking Israel, which is a glorious democracy.”
One Israeli official suggested that Nzimande was barred from coming to Israel since he was planning to use the country merely as “a transit point” on his way to Ramallah, refusing to meet Israeli officials.
Nzimande is known to be ferociously critical of Israel, but other senior South African officials with similar views have been receiving visas in recent months, including Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, the head of the ruling ANC party’s international relations committee.
Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria, Arthur Lenk, refused to comment on this “specific consular issue that was decided in Jerusalem,” but confirmed that Israel regularly facilitates travel arrangements for South African officials, even if they are only interested in visiting the Palestinians and do not interact with Israelis.
“We have no problem with the fact that South Africa has a close relationship with our neighbors,” Lenk told The Times of Israel on Monday, adding that the ANC’s historical relationship with the Palestinians could actually be helpful.
“South Africa and its achievements 21 years ago came about through negotiation, compromise and co-existence. Those are all lessons that the Palestinians should hear and learn from,” he said. “It’s not a zero-sum game. It doesn’t have to be that we’re friends with one side and not friends with the other a priori.”
The denial of Nzimande’s planned trip to Ramallah meant that a government minister would never be able to travel to Israel or Palestine, his spokesman Khaye Nkwanyana said last week, and “has effectively barred all South African officials from visiting both countries.”
Nzimande was meant to meet with his Palestinian counterpart, Khawla Shksheer, to discuss the implementation of a memorandum of understanding between Ramallah and Pretoria signed in November by presidents Jacob Zuma and Mahmoud Abbas, Mashilo, the Communist Party’s national spokesperson, said.
“This cooperation agreement has to be taken forward, whether the Palestinian minister comes to South Africa or the South African minister comes to Palestine. But we will not abandon our quest to demand the right to visit Palestine,” Mashilo said.
Nzimande and three aides had attempted to reach Ramallah via Jordan, but as Israel controls the border crossings into the West Bank, the South African delegation asked for visa permits. The minister had no intention of meeting with any Israeli officials, Mashilo confirmed.
“Israel has no right to determine who the Palestinians associate with,” he told The Times of Israel. “We experienced apartheid in the past. We can’t let that happen again.” Restricting access to the Palestinian territories constitutes a violation of international law, which Pretoria was unwilling to accept, he added, threatening to “take action” if Israel upholds its policy.
Ties between Jerusalem and Pretoria have long been cool, and South Africa is one of the most hostile countries with which Israel has diplomatic ties. And yet, Lenk, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, said that he and his team have been finding more “ways for interaction” than the public is aware of, citing visits to the country by senior Israeli officials. “There are lots of positives in the bilateral relationship,” he said, emphasizing that in 2014 Israeli imports to South Africa increased for the fifth consecutive year.

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