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OpEds

How the Muslim community betrayed the ANC

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Last week wasn’t a good week for the African National Congress (ANC). Not only was it decimated in South Africa’s general election, dropping 17% in the polls, losing its parliamentary majority and four provinces, but South Africa’s revolutionary liberation movement discovered that it had been betrayed by some of its closest allies.

Lured into a deceptive trap, concocted by Dr Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s jihadi foreign minister, the ANC had thrown its entire weight behind South Africa’s Muslim community, pandering to its Hamas supporting extremist wing and turning its back on the South African Jewish community, many of whom had been long-time allies, financial backers of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and activists in the anti-apartheid struggle for the country’s liberation.

Pandor, a convert to Islam, had led her government down an economic black hole with her anti-Western foreign policy, supporting Hamas, targeting Israel, attacking Morocco, and her rapprochement with Iran. Her rabid anti-American vitriol, and her threats that America would be the next target at the International Criminal Court, has caused the cancellation of numerous American investments in South Africa and jeopardised South Africa’s ongoing membership of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, together with it 200 000 local South African jobs.

One of the most iconic moments of the 2024 general elections campaign was a social media video post of an animated, hysterical Muslim man, zealously ranting to a smiling Ramaphosa how the Muslim community would vote for the president and the ANC.

Ramaphosa actively courted the Muslim community, pandering to its needs; taking Israel to the International Court of Justice; bowing down in Muslim prayer at mosque; celebrating Iftar with Muslim leaders; shouting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”; and sporting Palestinian fancy dress regalia. Ramaphosa wasn’t alone. The president’s deputy, Paul Mashatile, also joined the Muslim community in prayer and apparel. Palestinian scarves and keffiyehs became as prolific at ANC gatherings and news conferences as the ill-fitting yellow t-shirt.

Pandor telephoned Hamas shortly after the 7 October Hamas invasion of Israel, according to Hamas, to congratulate it on the success of its Al Aqsa Flood operation, a comment denied by Pandor. South Africa and the ruling party, have twice hosted Hamas in South Africa in the past eight months, and hosted the Global AntiApartheid Conference for Palestine in Sandton and representatives of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, the European Muslim Council, the US Council of Muslim Organisations, and an array of local Muslim bodies.

The ANC manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 24 February 2024 was hijacked by the Muslim community.

At the ANC’s closing election rally, at Soccer City just outside Johannesburg, a huge Palestinian flag featured prominently, while there were no South African flags in sight. Palestine has been front and centre of the ANC’s election campaign and in return, the Muslim community promised its electoral support for the ANC and its assistance to oust the Democratic Alliance (DA) from power in the Western Cape. The Muslim community constitute a mere 1.2% of South Africa’s electorate but a full 6% of voters in the Western Cape.

But history has a habit of repeating itself. In 1948, Field Marshal Jan Smuts, arguably one of South Africa’s greatest statesmen, was ousted from power by an electorate gatvol of Smuts’s preoccupation with the international community. Smuts had served as minister in the Imperial War Cabinet in World War I; had conceived of the League of Nations; helped draft the United Nations Charter; and served as one of the key allies to Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. So important was Smuts to the Allied forces, a plan was concocted in 1940 for Smuts to become prime minister of the United Kingdom should anything happen to Churchill.

But the voters turned on Smuts in the same way they turned on the ANC.

After 30 years of ANC corruption, criminality, incompetence, and failure to deliver services to country, the people had simply had enough.

As the election results were announced on Sunday evening, 2 June 2024, it became clear that the ANC had lost 3.56 million votes compared to the election held five years previously.

The citizens of Gaza hadn’t voted in these elections, and the Muslim community hadn’t voted for the ANC either.

In the Western Cape provincial elections, where the ANC had banked on the Islamic vote to oust the DA, the ANC’s support reduced by 9% from 28.6% to 19.55%, shedding 204 202 voters in the process. The Muslims had betrayed the ANC, co-opting it into their agenda, but failing to support it at the polls.

The example of Muslim betrayal is even more stark if you examine voting patterns in areas where large Muslim populations reside in the Western Cape.

We took the areas of Bo-Kaap, Woodstock, Athlone, Bonteheuwel, Valhalla Park, Rylands, Rondebosch East, Lansdowne, Salt River, and Manenberg, and randomly selected 29 voting districts to analyse.

The results of the national election are stark. The ANC lost voters in 21 of the 29 voting districts analysed, although there was a major decline in voter participation throughout the province, dropping from 66.05% in 2019 to 58.64% this month.

As a percentage of votes, the ANC share of votes declined in 18 of the 29 voting districts analysed.

Ironically, many votes were lost to the vocally Israel aligned Patriotic Alliance.

For voters in the Western Cape, Palestine wasn’t a central issue in deciding to whom they should gift their vote. Voters chose service delivery over radical ideology, and believed that the DA would deliver them and their children a better future. The DA has 12 Muslim councillors in Cape Town, the ANC none.

The ANC has been taken for a ride, it has been betrayed, and it should have learned the lesson that Chris de Burgh taught us all in 1982:

“Whatever you do
Don’t pay the ferryman
Don’t even fix a price
Don’t pay the ferryman
Until he gets you to the other side”

  • Howard Sackstein is a political analyst, and the chairperson of the SA Jewish Report. He writes in his personal capacity.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. REUBEN MILLER

    Jun 7, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    Well written Howard, it echo’s my sentiments completely. regards Reuben Miller

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