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Phalatse reinstated

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Democratic Alliance Councillor Dr Mpho Phalatse is to be reinstated in her position as member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development. This follows her public apology to the people of Johannesburg on Tuesday for remarks she made at the South African Friends of Israel conference on 10 June.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Jun 28, 2018

While she did not retract any of the personal opinions she expressed, she recognised that her statements might have caused confusion regarding the city’s position on the “Israel Palestine matter”.

Phalatse made a public declaration at the conference, calling herself and the City of Johannesburg a “friend” of Israel. The statement subsequently led to the African National Congress and Economic Freedom Fighters calling for her immediate dismissal.

Phalatse was suspended by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who said that he had acted against her for “publicly” declaring that the city was a friend of Israel. “The issue of the conflict in Israel is complex, and requires a sensitive approach,” he said, pointing out that he was disappointed that Phalatse had attributed her personal views to the city.

Offering apologies to the residents of Johannesburg for remarks which caused “confusion and hurt” to some, Phalatse said she recognised that the conflict in the middle east was a “challenging and sensitive subject which, if not approached with the required consideration, causes acrimony in our diverse society”.

Referring to the part of her address circulated on social media, Phalatse said that listeners were not afforded the full context of her statement, and were offended as a result.

“The publicised component of the speech,” she wrote, “denied the listener the relevant context which was captured in the content preceding those parting remarks. This led to a lot of confusion.” She pointed out that the unpublicised component of her speech had addressed “the commitment of the DA and our government to achieving freedom, fairness, opportunity, and diversity in Johannesburg”, a qualifier which she maintains places her words in the correct context.

The statement in isolation, she wrote, “does create the impression that I was positioning the City of Johannesburg on international relations matters without the requisite mandate, and for that I sincerely apologise. I would therefore like to clarify that I was not suggesting that the city has assumed a particular position in the Israel-Palestine matter, as this would fall outside of the city’s direct mandate.”

Hearkening back to a statement made previously to the SA Jewish Report about her desire to improve the lives of the city’s residents, Phalatse recognised the ability the government had to meet people’s needs. She wrote: “I fully appreciate the leadership of Mayor Mashaba, and his directive to focus on the needs of our residents rather than the historical focus on international relations.

“In my work, I have come to appreciate how many residents of this city live without the required access to basic healthcare. As a doctor, I have found that there is so much potential for our government to improve the lives of our people.”

For this reason, she concluded, she eagerly awaited resuming work and contributing to the improvement of society despite her supposedly mistaken statements. “I look forward to returning to this work, regretting the extent to which my remarks have distracted from this.”

At the time of going to print on Wednesday, the Mayor’s office had not yet put out their statement reinstating her, but confirmed it would happen immediately.

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