The recent decision to drag Israel into the United Nations’s International Court of Justice (or World Court as it is known by many South Africans) has honestly divided the country; some praise their government while others are dissatisfied with the move. There is no doubt that there will be a price to pay for our actions in the international arena and sadly, the poor will pay that price.
While politicians will use human rights, justice, or equality as drivers of their country’s foreign policy direction, we know that the primary driver of such an important policy is often always self-interest of those in power. In the case of South Africa, it is the African National Conference (the ANC), the governing party, which is using political means to satisfy itself and its so-called historic allies. The nature of South Africa’s case at the World Court is not about South Africans; the government’s involvement will not have any direct or indirect material benefit to the poor South Africans.
South Africa’s decision to drag Israel into the World Court seems to come from a well-meaning place; a strategic political move that will remind local voters about the party’s reputation as a defender of human rights. They may be criticized for bad governance but they will always be known for their role as the defenders of the vulnerable during South Africa’s struggle for freedom from the oppression of apartheid. It is known that people are not happy with the ANC’s performance in government and this case will have a fundamental impact in the coming elections.
It also appears that the ANC-led government is subjecting itself to being used as a lackey by both Iran and Russia. Is the decision to approach the World Court solely coming from Pretoria? There are several indicators that make it difficult to say “yes”. The ANC has become cosy with the Iranian government and Hamas, a terror group supported by Iran, both of whom advocate for the elimination of the State of Israel and killing of Jews.
The ANC hosted Hamas which killed more than 1,300 innocent Israelis on the 7th of October 2023, including a few Africans who were there for study purposes. Hamas also abducted more than 240 women, children and the elderly, and raped, tortured, burned, and maimed their victims. They were hosted and welcomed into the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House. In just a few days after the 7 October massacre, South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, also called Hamas’ leader to show and commit unwavering support to a bloody terror group. A summary of this call was flagrantly published by Iran on the official website of its foreign ministry.
On its own, Hamas couldn’t have the military resources to carry out their October 7 vicious attacks. The fact that they are still able to throw rockets at Israel shows that they have military backing from Iran. We know from Palestinians and Hamas leaders that Iran provides military training, logistical support and financial assistance to Hamas.
Is it a wise move for South Africa to associate with Hamas and Iran? I don’t think so, why is our country not associating with Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan in a quest to look for a more permanent solution? None of these pro-Palestinian governments have taken Israel to the World Court.
If South Africa genuinely wants to arrest the Israel-Palestine impasse, why is it difficult to use bilateral relations to condemn what they believe goes against their moral values directly with Israel? When you get angry and disengage how is it going to positively impact the outcome? South Africa chooses to go out and make noise while Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are looking for a solution by engaging both parties directly, not through the media or on the international stage as South Africa has chosen to do.
There are political and security concerns between Israel and Palestine that have persisted for years which means that there should be a more sustainable, permanent, and political solution. An order from the World Court is a temporary means which does not sustainably or permanently solve the problem. Many people are hypocritical because they choose to blame Israel when it is defending itself by taking the fight to Hamas, but they keep quiet when Hamas is provoking and killing the Israelis. Every country has a moral duty to go all out and protect its people against any threat, big or small.
It is hypocritical of our government to think that they showed a middle finger to the International Criminal Court which had issued a warrant of arrest against Al Bashir in 2009, but our government refused to arrest him. To add salt to the wound, South Africa is ignoring the acts of crimes against humanity in Ukraine by a bullish Russia. The ANC government has never issued a statement or acted against what Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine. They are so fixated that it comes to Israel and would do anything to demonize it.
This is a country that borders Zimbabwe whose people have been subjected to acts of violations and terror by ZANU-PF in the full view of the ANC, and they are keeping quiet about it just as they have done for years. There are no bilateral efforts to try and fix the appalling situation in that or other parts of Africa. I think that South Africa’s geopolitical influence in the region and continent should not be rented to the highest bidders. Instead, we should be using our influence to address our national, regional, and continental problems. What are we saying about the political and security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo?