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ActionSA – Lerato Ngobeni, national spokesperson

Why should the Jewish community vote for you?

ActionSA is one of the county’s most diverse and fastest growing political parties, with support from all communities of faith. We believe this is essential to help us weaken or remove the governing party and restore South Africa to a path of prosperity. We believe in the richness of the diversity of our people, which includes religion.

We’ve adopted a set of pragmatic policies that we believe will fundamentally improve South Africa by unlocking economic growth, creating millions of sustainable jobs, ending corruption, securing our borders, ensuring that people are safe in our communities, and restoring necessary social harmony wherein every group, regardless of their religious affiliation, will have a stronger sense of belonging. This includes the South African Jewish community.

The South African Jewish community feels let down by the government and isolated in South Africa. What will you do to make sure that South Africa is a welcoming place for the Jewish community?

ActionSA’s core values include non-racism and the principle of non-sectarianism. We believe we’re stronger in our diversity. This is non-negotiable if we’re to keep our nation together with each group enjoying an enhanced sense of belonging. An ActionSA-led government will reverse policies which have turned South African communities against one another. We intend to foster a culture of understanding, mutual respect, and patriotism. No group will be singled out. We regard the broad South African Jewish community as integral to who we are as a diverse nation, and we intend to ensure that it, too, feels appreciated for the contribution it has made to our country. We believe all South Africans, regardless of their heritage, want to work together to make our country the success it can be. No-one will be excluded on the basis of their identity.

What’s your stance on South Africa’s taking Israel to the International Court of Justice?

As ActionSA, we pray for peace in the Middle East, and condemn all attacks on civilian communities, irrespective of who is behind such attacks and who is targeted. We believe that peace won’t be achieved unless a ceasefire is implemented immediately so that a settlement can be reached for the people of Israel and Palestine to live in peace with or alongside one another.

Considering the worsening relations between Israel and the Palestinian people, leading to the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October 2023 and Israel’s counterattack, the South African government saw it fit to appeal to an international court. As a party, we have respect for the rule of law. This includes respect for international law. We therefore believe the process must be allowed to play out in a fair and impartial manner. ActionSA will respect the outcome.

Antisemitism has been on the rise in South Africa, as demonstrated in the Judicial Services Commission, Cricket SA, and Parliament, with attacks on Jewish institutions and schools. What would you do to tackle antisemitism of this nature?

As indicated above, ActionSA believes that South Africa’s strength lies in its diversity. We would therefore work to protect all communities living in the country, especially those who feel marginalised. We believe all forms of discrimination should be condemned, including antisemitism, and will therefore implement policies in our education system and government which foster understanding and mutual respect. We’ll ensure that wherever someone’s life is threatened, irrespective of their identity and rank, there are lawful consequences for the perpetrators.

What’s your position on the relationship between Israel and South Africa? What would you want it to be like?

ActionSA’s foreign policy is anchored on four principles: the advancement of human rights on the global stage; the importance of using diplomatic relations to advance trade beneficial to our national interest; respect for the rule of law; and the importance of advancing the interests of the southern African region, Africa, and developing countries on the international stage.

We therefore don’t support an international relations policy by the ruling party which hurts the South African economy and costs the country jobs at a time when our people are struggling. We believe our relationships with our international partners, including Israel, should be underpinned by mutual respect, respect for human rights, and democracy.

Under ActionSA, South Africa won’t remain silent about human rights abuses, regardless of who commits such abuses.

Should South Africa open its embassy in Israel, and return its ambassador to the country? If so, why? If not, why not?

ActionSA believes in the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations to promote global collaboration toward a peaceful and stable global order. South Africa cannot be a positive player in the Middle East while it distances itself from key players in the region, including Israel. We believe that the security of Israel is linked to the security of the Palestinians, and we intend to contribute meaningfully to the resolution of tensions in that part of the world. For that to be possible, a permanent, non-partisan, diplomatic presence will be needed.

People say ActionSA is xenophobic. How do you respond to that?

Since its inception, ActionSA has been clear that South Africa is a country built on the backs of immigrants, and we condemn all forms of xenophobia in the strongest terms. We want the people of the world to come to South Africa to invest and help us to grow the country, but we want people to come here legally and when they do so, they should obey our laws once here.

No country in the world has an open border policy. South Africa cannot be an exception. We remain concerned about the effect of our porous borders on the safety of South Africans and the integrity of our economy. An ActionSA government would secure our borders while ensuring that it becomes easier to enter the country for people who want to come here legally and contribute.

Some people also say that Herman Mashaba has been tainted by his time in the Democratic Alliance, much like Mmusi Maimane. How do you react to that?

ActionSA President Herman Mashaba joined his former political home when he believed it was a credible vehicle to unseat the ruling party. However, he soon became disillusioned and realised that to remove the ruling party and fix South Africa, support from diverse communities was required which couldn’t be achieved through existing political parties. South Africa is a democratic country in which support for different political parties should be encouraged to keep parties accountable. Mashaba’s move from voting for the ruling party in 1994 to his former political home and now ActionSA should be celebrated as part of the normal process in a functioning democracy. Instead of weakening his resolve to be part of saving South Africa from the abuse of the African National Congress (ANC) , these changes have strengthened it, hence his determination and that of ActionSA not to partner with the ANC, which presents an obstacle to building the country we all aspire to.

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