Dual citizens: Bapela gets bloody nose from ANC
The government has moved to assuage concerns and seething anger in the South African Jewish community that it is considering abolishing dual citizenship, widely seen as an attempt to prevent young South African Jews from serving in the Israel Defence Forces.
Last week the Sunday Times broke the story that ANC international relations subcommittee chairman Obed Bapela wanted to see the country’s dual citizenship policy reviewed.
But on Thursday Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said there were “absolutely no plans” to review the SA Citizenship Act with regards to dual citizenship. This was followed by a statement by ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa stressing: “The status quo remains in terms of Home Affairs regulations on dual citizenship.”
On SABC radio Gigaba said SA legislation provided for South African citizens to serve in another country’s armed forces, on condition they did not take up arms against South Africa.
“We want to reassure South Africans that in terms of our national policies, we are aligned with the generally accepted practice by the majority of countries in the world who recognise dual citizenship,” Kodwa said.
Bapela was quoted in the Sunday Times as being concerned about SA citizens fighting in the Israel Defence Forces.
On Wednesday, Bapela told News24 that the party would be discussing the dual citizenship policy at its national general council next week, but his militancy seemed to have been toned down by Minister Gigaba as well as the ANC as a party.
ANC leaders are also expected to meet the Jewish Board of Deputies next week to discuss its concerns regarding this and other matters concerning the Jewish community.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies early this week quickly reacted to Bapela’s announcement and this was followed by a measured denunciation by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.
Bapela also hinted that the ANC’s national general council meeting next week, would besides the issue of dual citizenship, also discuss some companies with “ties” to Israel. It named Woolworths, Caterpillar and Cape Gate among others. Should these companies not agree to sever economic ties with Israel, they would be “named and shamed” before government would consider boycotting them.
The question of unconstitutionality has cropped up repeatedly, with constitutional lawyers maintaining that these proposed measures would not pass constitutional muster.