Home NewsAsia ANC supporters clash with DA over Palestine, collapse election debate

ANC supporters clash with DA over Palestine, collapse election debate

by Zahid Jadwat

Representing the Democratic Alliance (DA) at an election debate, Mohammed Alex Christians had to fend off hecklers. [Picture: Nasreen Naidoo / Salaamedia]


“Those who boo us today are the very ones who have used water cannons from Israel against your children, but you will not realise that.” These were the words of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) councillor Mohammed Alex Christians as supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) refused to let him speak at a pre-election debate on Friday.

Christians was addressing the audience at Salaamedia’s ‘Lucrative Muslim Vote’ event in Erasmia, Pretoria, when a group of ANC members and supporters refused to let him speak.

As he attempted to answer a question, about how a DA-led government will address South Africa’s water and electricity crises, they booed and shouted. Their main grievance was the DA’s stance on Palestine, where Israel is committing a genocide in Gaza.


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DA ‘unwelcome’ in Erasmia

Ward councillor Naeem Patel, an ANC member who won the ward in the 2021 election, defied the moderator’s pleas to “settle down”. Instead, he climbed onto the stage and declared that the DA was not welcome in his ward.

“Ladies and gentlemen, as the duly-elected ward councillor of this area, that gave the DA a beating in this ward, they are not welcome in my ward. They are not welcome in my ward! I beat the DA in this ward!” he shouted.


But Christians, who helplessly tried to speak above the unrestrained chants that “DA must leave”, accused the ANC of hijacking the ‘Free Palestine’ movement. He suggested they were insincere in their support for the cause, owing to their government’s trade relationship with Israel.

“The ANC government benefits to the value of R1.3 trillion with their business with Israel, yet they want to talk about ‘Free Palestine’? They are hypocrites, and that is why they don’t want you to listen to the Democratic Alliance, who are the only ones who can rescue South Africa,” he said, moments before Patel climbed onto the stage.

While the ANC has won the admiration of many by taking Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 30 000 people, the DA has maintained a neutral stance.

Preferring instead to focus on domestic issues, it has occasionally called for a change of leadership in Palestine and Israel, and supports the same two-state solution desired by the ANC government.

Addressing the Daily Maverick’s The Gathering event in March, federal leader John Steenhuisen said: “We don’t need to wait however long it’s going to take for the ICJ to make a decision about whether it’s genocide, to agree that what’s happening there needs to stop immediately. We need a ceasefire.”
After more than 30 minutes of pandemonium, Friday’s event in Pretoria was called off. Those opposed to the DA’s participation refused to allow Christians to speak, some even threatening physical violence.

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