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Here’s hoping for a GNU dawn

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On Sunday evening, 30 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the long-awaited executive of the incoming Government of National Unity (GNU). The South African Jewish Board of Deputies welcomes this announcement as we believe the GNU is a testament to the strength and maturity of South Africa’s democracy. It’s also particularly exciting that we will have a government consisting of a number of parties, putting an end to the single-party hegemony that has thus far characterised our democracy.

Of particular interest to our community is the new leadership of the department of international relations and cooperation. While it’s a relief to see that Dr Naledi Pandor won’t be returning, the appointment of Ronald Lamola as the new minister brings a sense of unease. Lamola’s previous statements on antisemitism have been troubling, even suggesting that, in spite of bona fide evidence, the rise in antisemitism in South Africa was a “figment of [our] imagination”.

In February, we protested outside Lamola’s offices and handed him a memorandum detailing the numerous antisemitic incidents and our methodology for recording them. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive any response from the minister.

In spite of this troubling history, the Board hopes that the new government will provide opportunities for constructive dialogue on issues concerning our community. Likewise, we offer Minister Lamola an open invitation to engage with our special community. We remain a proud community of South Africans, and are committed to working with the new government to better the lives of all South Africans.

Once again, South Africa has proven itself to be a fascinating country, full of contradictions and paradoxes. It’s not for the fainthearted but it’s been quite a ride. Exciting times to come.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM, every Friday from 12:00 to 13:00.

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