A rift with ActionSA’s national chairperson Michael Beaumont on the party’s stance on the Palestine situation has driven Durban Muslim activist Mustafa Darsot to quit the party in protest.
The intense conflict and bombardment of Palestine by the Israeli Defence Force has claimed over 12,000 civilian lives so far, while an attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7th claimed about 1,500 lives.
Darsot resigned from ActionSA last week, almost a month after he sought answers in the party about a change in stance.
Darsot, who was recruited into ActionSA’s 24-member Senate, said he was recruited to the party by leader Herman Mashaba due to his track record in civil movements such as SA Muslim Network (Samnet).
He sent a WhatsApp message to the party citing two reasons for his resignation, the over 4,500 children killed in Gaza and the offending tweets by Beaumont.
“I announce my resignation from ActionSA as a Senate and party member, as I have failed to correct the current status quo of a damming Tweet that has grossly offended my community, alienated their potential support and votes, as well as caused me considerable reputational harm to my standing in the community,” said Darsot.
In an interview with IOL on Saturday, he explained that ActionSA released a statement on October 10th which he supported. The statement was sweet and short, saying:
“ActionSA notes with deep concern the current state of violence between Israel and Palestine. This latest eruption of violence has resulted in heavy casualties and loss of lives on both sides.
“ActionSA calls on both sides, together with the international community to facilitate a cessation of all hostilities with immediate effect, and to work towards negotiating for lasting peace and a sustainable solution for all”.
Darsot said it was a “good statement” and “no man could have taken offence, I welcomed it myself”.
However, on the very next day he said ActionSA released a “damning” one sided statement which condemned only the actions of Hamas, but made no mention of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
“We are firm in our belief that violence begets violence, and as such, call for a reinvigorated pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the long standing conflict in the Middle East. We advocate for a two-state solution, where both Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in harmony, each with their sovereign state, mutually respected borders, and the prospects for a peaceful and prosperous coexistence,” read part of it.
We vehemently condemn the heinous acts perpetrated by Hamas in Israel late last week. The unyielding barrage of rocket attacks and infiltration into civilian areas, resulting in the loss of innocent lives can never be condoned, no matter the context.— ActionSA (@Action4SA) October 11, 2023
The tragic and senseless…
Darsot said Senate did not discuss the statement and no party leader engaged him “to understand what will be the sensitivity regarding our community”.
When pro-Palestine activists picketed outside the ActionSA offices in Durban, Beaumont tweeted:
"I am pleased to say we were too busy to notice because @ActionSA was busy announcing Zwakele Mcwango as a KZN Premier candidate capable of addressing the serious challenges facing our fellow South Africans in KwaZulu-Natal."
Darsot said Beaumont was appeasing the sentiments of one community over another, instead of being fair.
“If you condemn Hamas, you must condemn Israel as well, now they have to deal with the consequences of losing a significant voting bloc,” he said.
Darsot said it was unfortunate that he had been ignored for a month and his complaints not addressed, saying Beaumont has showed his arrogance.
“I kept on saying we need to correct this. Call for a ceasefire. Even after I resigned I am saying that.
“Nothing has come from the party, so the silence is complicit,” he said.
Darsot said he was still weighing his options, but he would carry on pursuing political activism.
He has called on people to register to vote this voter registration weekend.
ActionSA’s Beaumont told News24 it believed it was not in a portion to apportion blame and said it had debated the matter robustly with divergent views shared.
ActionSA called for a de-escalation and the pursuit of a peaceful solution.