JOHANNESBURG, April 29 — The South African Communist Party (SACP), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is the leading labour confederation, the National Coalition 4 Palestine and other groups in the country have called on the government to expel the Israeli ambassador to South Africa with immediate effect.
Their call came after the Israeli government denied Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande a visa to travel to Palestine.
At a media briefing by these groups here Monday, SACP second deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila said if the ambassador was not expelled in 10 days’ time, they would march to the Israeli embassy next month.
Mapaila said they felt that South Africa had been undermined. “South Africa does have diplomatic relations with Israel, comrade Blade doesn’t express his own personal views but he has expressed the views of the SACP, the views of the ANC as well as the views of government.”
Further, Mapaila adds that Nzimande was not on his own personal mission, “therefore we have rolled out an eight-point plan action to ensure that we normalise relations, starting by expelling the Israeli ambassador to South Africa.”
Reports last week indicated that the Israeli government denied Nzimande a visa to travel to Palestine. His spokesperson, Khaye Nkwanyana, said at the time that the refusal created a serious diplomatic problem.
The reason Israel provided for the refusal was that Nzimande is one of the most vocal anti-Israeli government ministers. Nzimande was to travel to Palestine from last Friday until Wednesday. The trip was intended as a follow-up visit to promote collaboration in research between the University of Johannesburg and institutions in Palestine.