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Op-eds

Gauteng expresses confidence in Jewish leadership

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev (3)
Delegates from a wide range of Jewish organisations in Gauteng came together at Beyachad in Johannesburg on 7 October for the biennial conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies’ Gauteng Council.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Oct 11, 2018

The main business of the day was outgoing Chairman Marc Pozniak’s report on the council’s activities over the previous two years, and the ratification of the new Gauteng Council constitution. I congratulate Marc on all that has been achieved under his leadership since taking over from me as chairman in August last year. Congratulations also to the newly-elected Gauteng council. I wish you all success, and look forward to working with you in your upcoming term of office.

The mandate of the SAJBD to represent South African Jewry and take action on its behalf derives from its affiliate organisations. Our regional and national conferences are not just report-back forums, but give us the necessary authority to continue to act as the community’s representative spokesbody and civil-rights lobby.

They also enable affiliates to give us input into what we are and need to be doing. We appreciated the useful feedback that was received from the floor, and were encouraged by the confidence expressed by those present in the SAJBD, and how it is performing its role. My thanks to everyone who joined us for the occasion. We look forward to following this formal part of the conference with an event for the broader Jewish community on 25 November. This will be built around President Ramaphosa’s address to Gauteng Jewry, and preparations for this historic occasion are now underway.

Tribute to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Prince Buthelezi has long been a household name in South Africa from his years at the helm of the KwaZulu-Natal government and Inkatha Freedom Party, the political movement that he founded and continues to head, and later as a Cabinet minister and widely respected “elder statesman” in the post-liberation Parliament. He has also been a warm friend of South African Jewry, and a staunch advocate of closer ties between South Africa and Israel. On 8 October, the Board joined the South African Zionist Federation and South African Friends of Israel in paying tribute to this eminent South African statesman. The event, held at the Yeshiva College shul, was very well attended, testifying to how much goodwill there is towards Prince Buthelezi within the greater Jewish community despite the fact that his primary interaction with our community has been in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

In my message on behalf of the Board, I stressed how Prince Buthelezi had always been willing to engage and work with us, during the dark days of apartheid and in the new era of non-racial democracy that replaced it. He has shown himself to be a man of principle who acted according to what he believed to be right, rather than for reasons of political expediency. His continued staunch support for maintaining and building the relationship between South Africa and Israel, despite the growing unpopularity of such a stance in certain quarters, is just one example of this. In his gracious response, Prince Buthelezi described his real, long-term friendships with Jews over the years. In terms of the relationship with Israel, he stressed the folly of South Africa’s disengagement from the region through ill-considered intentions to downgrade diplomatic ties.

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