Against the genocide, “we want to see South African government to do much more locally”

Against the genocide, “we want to see South African government to do much more locally”

Zwelivelile ‘Mandla’ Mandela travels a lot. He is an ambassador for the global campaign to return to Palestine, a campaign that lays emphasis on the fact that millions of Palestinians were expelled during the last 75 years from their territories.

Mandela recently visited Istanbul, Türkiye, to take part in the Conference of Parliamentarians for Al Quds and expressed his support for the Gaza Liberty Flotilla. He also met with Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyye.

Mandla is a person of great symbolism, as he is not only a member of the South African Parliament but also grandson of Nelson Mandela.

Can you explain your role as an ambassador for the global campaign to return to Palestine?

This is an important chapter in our struggle to liberate Palestine. As you know, one of the biggest populations of Palestinians are the Palestinians in the diaspora. I’ve had the honor and privilege of visiting them in the neighboring countries in the region, in the refugee camps, but I’ve also visited them in the United States of America where I was hosted by the United States Palestinian Community Network. And this enabled me to engage with the Palestinians on the ground.

South Africa’s fight against Apartheid and the Palestinian struggle

And having been able to meet with them, I was invited by the global campaign to return to Palestine to be an ambassador. Because for us it was one of the most important chapters of our struggle for liberation in South Africa.

As you know that our struggle was not only fought within our confines in South Africa but also outside our borders as we were assisted by the Palestinians, the Libyans and the Cubans to be able to overthrow the apartheid regime in South Africa. None of us can ever forget the role that Cuba played in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola, where we defeated the apartheid regime, and it got on the retreat.

This has enabled us as South Africans to utilize our voice to speak on behalf of oppressed nations around the globe. For my grandfather, the Palestinian issue has always been at the center of his being, and he regarded it as the greatest moral issue of our time. He paid not only lip service to it. He made a real commitment to the Palestinians on his visit to Gaza in 1995, respectively in 1997, when he said our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people.

And we today are that generation that has picked up the baton, and we are doing all we can to ensure that we realize that in our lifetime. So as an ambassador for the global campaign to return to Palestine, it enables me to engage with Palestinians, first and foremost, for them to be able to be an active voice for their own resistance and be ambassadors for their own struggle for liberation.

And with the electronic intifada, today we are able to pick up news instantly that are coming out of Gaza or occupied territories in the West Bank and share them with the global community. You have seen the crowd swell of protest in every major city in the world. This is the result of the electronic intifada. I hope that with the six million Palestinians in the diaspora we can be able to break down the Zionist usurping entities, propaganda and the lies that they are perpetuating through their Western media allies. And this for me is a real honor to be able to serve and support Palestinians at this level.

South African government needs to do more

South Africa has taken the leadership in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) case. How do you see, is it moving forward now? It had great effect politically, symbolically, but is the parliament behind it? How is the mood there in South Africa?

Well, for us as South Africans, it has been an historical achievement where we applaud our government as led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as our minister Naledi Pandor and Ronald Lamola for having been able to take the Zionist usurping entity to the ICJ and the ICC (International Criminal Court) and hold it accountable for the atrocities that it has been carrying out against Palestinians for the past 75 years.

But also, we as activists on the ground have been behind that. We have been for decades exerting pressure on our government. And I have been one to say that we cannot be neutralized by the ICJ case.

As much as we applaud the position taken by our government, there is still a lot to be done in our own confines and in our own borders. For one, for decades we have been calling on our government to shut down our embassy in Tel Aviv. They reduced it to a liaison status, and the president currently has recalled all our officials serving in Tel Aviv for a consultative process. This is not what we have called for. We have called for it to be shut down. South Africa still leases a building or owns a building in Tel Aviv, and we want that closed down. When the Zionist usurping entity heard the news, they also recalled their ambassador on a consultative process.

Today, you still have our government, through the Department of Transport, enabling a national airline, El Al, of the Zionist usurping entity to fly through flight operating permits into South Africa five times a week. And we are continuously calling on the Department of Transport as well as our government to revoke those rights, like Ireland has done.

We have also repeatedly have heard that South Africa will arrest those South Africans that are serving in the Israeli defense Forces (IDF) and are aiding the IDF in the genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. And we say that we do not need to wait for them to come home.

They are already in South Africa. We’ve had a soldier in the Colombo Brigade in the past month or two in South Africa. And numerous pictures of him were taken. We reported this to the authorities.

We have not had to date of his capture and arrest. The other one was the one that was on the media, perpetuating the lie that the resistance forces have beheaded 40 babies, Israeli babies. He was in Cape Town recruiting South Africans to go and serve in the IDF.

We reported this, and yet no arrest has been made. We therefore want to call on the Ministry of Defense to implement the Foreign Military Assistance Act and ensure that the 149 cases that we have brought before the Ministry of Defense are implemented. These criminals are charged and are held accountable for their genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But also, you have an institution, the Herzlia high school, that the principal has proclaimed that 22% of their students, they go and serve in the IDF.

And the government has done nothing, just to even hold an investigation. Therefore, we call on the Ministry of Basic Education to investigate this case and investigate the matter that a school is an institution of recruiting students to go and be criminals and engage in activities such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. So, there’s still a lot more that we want to see our government doing locally in South Africa rather than taking international platforms and looking good internationally and letting these criminals get away with these atrocities at home.

The war in Gaza as part of a transition to a multipolar world

Is this in your opinion a local conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, Zionists, or is this a regional one? What do you think? Or is this part of a global transition to a different world?

Well, for us, it has been clear that it is a fight against Western imperialism. As South Africa and Africans in particular, we have had to undergo colonialism, as well as to wage a struggle for liberation against brutal regimes. In our case in South Africa, I had to overthrow a white supremacist national party that wanted the country to be led by the minority of 10% of our population. And therefore, it is a real awakening to fight off colonizers through oppressed nations around the globe.

And it has, therefore, enabled us, as the global South, to look into what are the lessons that are being learned through this conflict we are witnessing. Many of us realize that these international institutions need to undergo reform. We want to see reform not only in the ICJ and the ICC, but in the Security Council, in the United Nations itself. It cannot be that one member state every time raises their hand to veto any motion just to enable criminals to continue to carry out a genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. And we therefore are calling for a more multipolarity system where all member states can participate equally with one voice and one vote. And we are beginning to see many nations asserting that and looking for reforms within these institutions.

Palestinians teach looking into our own challenges

Is the Palestinian fight currently part of this struggle too?

Absolutely, because the Palestinian struggle has enabled us in the international community, particularly civil society, to rise and be able to challenge our governments. And I’m particularly happy being here in this current visit because I will be attending the conference on parliamentarians for Al-Quds, where we will be engaging with parliamentarians all over the world to ensure that they are able to hold their governments accountable.

And in this regard, Palestinians have not only enabled us in the global south but have enabled us in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia to be able to look into our own challenges and ensure that we continue to be a voice of the oppressed.

Yunus Soner

Political Scientist, former Deputy Chairman of Vatan Party (Türkiye) Soner has participated in diplomatic visits to China, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico, among others. He has conducted meetings with President Bashar Al Assad (Syria), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (Mexico), Manuel Zelaya (Honduras) and Foreign Ministers, Ministers of Finances and Representatives of Parliament from various countries. He has worked on Turkish-Russian, Turkish-Syrian, Turkish-Chinese and Turkish-Egyptian relations as well as on Latin America. Soner has had media participation in various international media channels, among them Russia Today and Sputnik (Russia), CGTN (China), Press TV (Iran), Syrian TV, El Mayaddin (Lebanon) and Telesur (Venezuela) and Turkish media. He has been a columnist to Turkish daily newspaper Aydınlık




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May 2024