ANC: We will not be recalling Minister Naledi Pandor, nothing amiss with her phone call to Hamas

International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor. File Picture: Dumisani Dube

International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor. File Picture: Dumisani Dube

Published Oct 19, 2023


The African National Congress (ANC) has thrown its weight behind International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor, who is facing criticism from some quarters over her recent phone conversation with leader of militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh.

IOL reported earlier this week that Pandor made the phone call after receiving a request to call the Hamas leader, and the conversation centred around humanitarian corridors in the besieged Gaza Strip following the persistent bombing and cutting off of food, electricity, and water supplies by the Israeli government.

The more than seven-decade-old conflict worsened earlier this month when Hamas-linked militants ambushed Israeli towns and killed about 1,000 Israeli citizens.

Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Thursday, national spokesperson of the ANC, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said Pandor’s phone conversation “has been hyped” to create a particular narrative.

Spokesperson of the ANC, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri. File Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

“The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation has a duty to speak to all interest groups in Palestine. She is well within her rights. There is absolutely nothing amiss about that. I see that that (the phone conversation) has been creating a particular narrative,” said Bhengu-Motsiri.

“From where we are sitting at Luthuli House, we do not see anything remiss with that. There is no decision not to ever speak to Hamas.”

She, however, highlighted that historically, the ANC has maintained close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

“Our historic ally has always been the PLO, and the PLO, like any other liberation movements in various parts of the world, unfolds as it unfolds. But that is our historic liberation (ally). You would recall that various historical visuals and images portray Nelson Mandela and Yasser Arafat, and we remain dutiful to that history of our forebears because there was something that joined them together.

“It was that ideal of fighting dispossession and fighting coloniality. We do not have any formal relationship with Hamas as the African National Congress. We have always been clear about it,” said Bhengu-Motsiri.

The ANC official said South Africa does not derive its categorisation of organisations or events from sections, including the United States of America, which has branded Hamas a terrorist organisation.

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies called for Pandor’s resignation or firing.

Prof Karen Milner, chairperson of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, has condemned Pandor’s actions: “Minister Pandor has chosen a side in this war. She has engaged with an Islamist Jihadist organisation and, in so doing, has dragged our country into very dangerous waters.”

Asked about the SA Jewish Board of Deputies stance, Bhengu-Motsiri said Pandor is not going anywhere.

“We are not going to be recalling Minister Pandor any time soon. Absolutely not. That is not an option,” she emphasised.

Minister Naledi Pandor. File picture: Katlholo Maifadi/Dirco

She, however, said there are plans in South Africa for the ANC to reach out and “frankly” engage the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an end of the siege of Gaza, reiterating that the only solution to the conflict between Palestine and Israel was a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

He said the National Executive Committee of the ANC has condemned the killing of civilians by both Hamas and the Israeli Defence Force.

Earlier, Ramaphosa had said South Africa was willing to broker a peace deal between the warring parties in Palestine and Israel.

He had said the country has been involved in peace efforts across the world.

Ramaphosa led a group of seven African leaders to negotiate peace between Russia and Ukraine a few months ago.