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Cape Town - ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman has apologised if he ”created an impression” he had pitted Muslims against Jews to attract votes.
But his comment has been met with even more condemnation, with the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) shocked by Fransman’s reaction and denouncing him as “disingenuous”.
In an interview last month broadcast by Voice of the Cape, a Muslim community radio station, Fransman, who is also deputy minister of international relations and co-operation, claimed the DA had handed building contracts in Observatory and Woodstock previously held by Muslim businesses to Jewish businessmen.
The board said Fransman had made “inflammatory remarks” and lodged a complaint against him with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
In his initial response on Tuesday, Fransman rejected the board’s complaint as a “sideshow” intended to deflect attention from important issues such as what he called the DA’s war on the poor and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Fransman said: “
The SAJBD’s baseless accusation that I am ‘pitting one religious community against another for vote-catching purposes’ is deplorable under any circumstances, and particularly unacceptable especially coming from a lobby that remains silent on its support for apartheid Israel’s human rights abuses as well as the DA’s war on the poor.
“If what I said created this impression, I apologise. I am on record saying that all faith communities, all business leaders and all South Africans must work together on our common challenges of poverty, unemployment, crime, education and health.”
He also said that instead of challenging the DA’s “war on the poor” and protection of “white privilege”, the board had defended the DA.
“It appears that the SAJBD has taken on the role of being an apologist for the DA government’s policy of privileged access for established, mainly white business in the Western Cape.”
Jewish board president Zev Krengel said: “It is a disingenuous apology. Muslims and Jews might disagree on the Palestine issue, but when it came to local issues the two communities always worked together.
“He is now accusing the board of protecting the DA. Our concern is that about 13 months from the elections this is what he is doing and who knows what he will do later. What Fransman is doing is creating division… ”