South Africans are set to launch a 24-hour hunger strike at 6pm in solidarity with the hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners. Picture: Nasser Nasser/AP
Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has joined a number of government ministers and others in pledging to take part in a 24-hour fast in solidarity with more than 1500 Palestinian political prisoners.

Ramaphosa addressed the ANC's provincial executive committee in Colesberg in the Northern Cape yesterday.

The Palestinian prisoners are on the 25th day of a hunger strike in Israeli prisons, demanding an end to solitary confinement, detention without trial and inadequate medical treatment.

The 24-hour solidarity hunger strike fast will start at 6pm tomorrow and end at 6pm on Monday.

Ministers who will take part in the fast include Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (Health), Ayanda Dlodlo (Communications), Naledi Pandor (Science & Technology), Rob Davies (Trade & Industry), and Ebrahim Patel (Economic Development).

A number of deputy ministers will also take part along with well known personalities, liberation icons and activists.

They include Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (former African Union chair), Jessie Duarte (ANC deputy secretary-general), Faiez Jacobs (Western Cape ANC provincial secretary), and S'dumo Dlamini (president of Cosatu.)

Others include Allan Kolski Horwitz (SA Jews for Palestine).

Issu Chiba, 86, Ebrahim Ebrahim, 79, and Kehla Shubane (all former Robben Island political prisoners), TV presenters Eben Jansen, Hajra Omarjee, Nina Hastie, Kuli Roberts, Shaka Sisulu and media personalities Kay Sexwale, Janet Smith, Jimi Matthews and Yusuf Abramjee will also join the fast.

Currently there are more than 500 Palestinians held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (equivalent of apartheid SA’s “detention without trial”).

Twenty-five Palestinian journalists and 13 Palestinian parliamentarians are also being held.

Israel is also holding 300 Palestinian children (some as young as 13).

Meanwhile, Sandi Kwon Hoo reports that Ramaphosa was welcomed by a raucous audience in Colesberg.

He said the ANC was “in danger” due to divisions ripping the party apart.

“The organisation that was once united is now divided by selfish individuals who are looking to advance their personal interests. While we are far from total disintegration we need to pause and take a long hard look at ourselves. We need to ask ourselves how we lost our way - and retrace our steps back to where we belong.”

Ramaphosa called for a change in leadership.

“The leaders voted in must be beyond reproach, who can bring about the renewal of the ANC The leadership must restore faith in the organisation, confidence in its supporters and serve by example.

“The leadership must work together to build a united and stable ANC.”

Ramaphosa cautioned members against factionalism and booing of leaders in public spaces.

He said the ANC was aiming for at least a 75% majority win in the national general elections in 2019.

“We can only achieve this if we keep our eyes on 2019.”

Ramaphosa advised the movement to set aside its differences and place the interests of the people first.

“If we make mistakes, we must admit that we have erred and take corrective action. Leaders must be courageous enough to humble themselves and admit their mistakes.

He acknowledged the need of the organisation to look after the interests of its members.

He pointed out that despite the enormous successes of the ANC, a lot still needed to be done.

“Economic growth has not reached all people to defeat the scourge of poverty, gender inequality in the workplace and job creation.

“We need to speed up the process of empowering women and youths.”

He added that the implementation of the minimum wage that would allow 6.6 million people enjoy decent wages, was a victory for Cosatu and the ANC.

Ramaphosa announced that in collaboration with business, government and the private sector would make one million internships and learnerships available in the next three years.

“We will unapologetically advance real radical economic transformation - not only for specific families, but for our people as a whole so that we can reduce the gap between the rich and poor. We need to do more to industrialise the economy, turn women and youths into entrepreneurs, restore land to its rightful owners and beneficiate our minerals.”

He highlighted the need to properly manage state-owned enterprises to bring about economic benefit.

“State-owned enterprises must be run by executives who are committed to the developmental progress.”

Weekend Argus