Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
A few weeks ago, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies sought to project Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as a threat to the South African Jewry as a whole just because she implemented the ANC National General Council Resolution, 2015, that South Africa must down grade our Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office.

This resolution was taken in view of the ongoing dehumanization, oppression, killings of women, children and the settlement of Israelites into the Palestinian territories to undermine the Two-State solution proposed by the United Nations and South Africa.

Minister Sisulu has always unwaveringly supported the peaceful coexistence of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine, as well as the Middle East Peace Process.

Minister Sisulu joined the Liberation struggle for the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa and has since 1994 been part of the reconstruction of a non-racial South Africa in which all linguistic, religious and cultural communities could play a role including the Jewish communities.

She does not hate the Jewish people, although Percy Yutar, an apartheid apologist of Jewish extraction, wanted her father, Tata Walter Sisulu to be sent to the gallows. She works tirelessly with the progressive Jewish communities of South Africa to find a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Palestinian- Israeli imbroglio.

It is unfair, wrong, misleading and presumptuous for the South African Board of Deputies to insinuate that her presence in government is a threat to the South African Jewry.

South Africans are herewith reminded that in a short space of time upon her reassignment to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation in 2018 she sought to recalibrate, reimagine and reset South Africa’s foreign policy in order to reclaim the country’s leadership position in SADC, in Africa and in global affairs. 

To realize her vision she appointed an eminent Ministerial Review Panel to embark upon this exercise after the political leadership transition of February 2018 under President Ramaphosa.

Under her astute leadership, guidance and incisive intellect, South Africa made impressive achievements in the international political firmament.

For instance South Africa intensified its lobby effort to be re-elected for the third time as a UN Security Council in the non-permanent category for the period 2019-2020 obtaining 183 of 192 votes, through working with the AU, NAM and Commonwealth. Together with the leadership of the continent, she demands the transformation of the UNSC to be reflective in its composition of the current political and demographic realities of the world since its inception in 1945.

Guided by President Ramaphosa, Sisulu ensured that South Africa hosted the 10th BRICS SUMMIT in July 2018 in Johannesburg.  As we all are aware, this SUMMIT was a historic milestone in the life of this prurilateral organisation of BRICS as an emerging centre of global power.

At this Summit strategic countries from the global South and the African continent adopted a comprehensive declaration for economic, trade development and the promotion of peace and security.  The Summit was indeed a tremendous success and enhanced South Africa’s soft power status.

The unveiling of the Nelson Mandela Statue in honor of President Nelson Mandela at the UN Headquarters in New York as well as the hosting of Nelson Mandela Summit during the UN general Assembly 74th Session in September 2018, was an outstanding diplomatic manoevre. This culminated in the Mandela Declaration and Mandela Decade of Peace 2018 – 2028 not only was this a quintessential tribute to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela but also an eloquent testimony to the indefagable diplomacy of our country under Sisulu as Minister, and a team of our Diplomats in the UN.

The ANC and the AU have always supported the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people of Western Sahara.  During her term of office South Africa hosted the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara. The conference called upon the UN to implement the long standing resolution on holding a referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara.

Under Minister Sisulu, Parliament passed the Foreign Service Bill on the 21st of November 2018 a first for South Africa since 1994. This Bill envisages the creation of a single, unified and professional foreign service.

The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation conducted public hearings and travelled to Canada and Namibia for best practice to inform the Bill. This will be an enduring legacy for Sisulu and the Portfolio Committee.

South Africa will assume the chairship of the A.U in 2020 following diplomatic consultations between South Africa, eSwatini and A.U countries. This move not only enhances South Africa’s prestige but makes South Africa a spokesperson for development issues of Africa in many multilateral forums in which Ramaphosa will interface.

With the recalibration of our foreign policy, there is now greater coherence and consistency in the articulation of South Africa’s foreign policy on various contentious issues including Myanmar, Venezuela, Middle East and the US-China trade wars.

Recently Sisulu made South Africa proud by coordinating various logistical efforts in helping the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in the wake of the recent floods.

Whenever time permits, Sisulu is available to deliver lectures about the role of the Youth in the foreign service as has happened recently in Mpumalanga Province, Nkangala Region.

Therefore I contend that her deployment in government in whatever capacity is not a threat to the Jewry but an opportunity for her to make a humble contribution to South Africa and the global community.

* Siphosezwe Masango is a former chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations. He writes in his personal capacity.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.