President Cyril Ramaphosa has once again come out against the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence, calling it “worrying” and likening it to South Africa’s history under apartheid.
Speaking to French media following the Summit on Financing of African Economies, Ramaphosa said as South Africans watch people being driven out of their homes, “we can’t but side with the Palestinians”.
“Our support as a country for the Palestinians is based on principle. Palestinians want their own self-determination rights, they want their own State, they want to be able to run their own affairs and have freedom and not have to be restricted to move around,” he said, adding that a negotiated settlement was vital in resolving the differences.
He said as a nation that has gone through this type of situation, South Africa is prepared to help play a role to bring both sides together.
He said although the problem might seem intractable, South Africa was able to find a solution in overcoming apartheid.
He said South Africa had a leader like Nelson Mandela to bring both sides together and he urged the leaders of Israel and Palestine to negotiate.
Ramaphosa explained that the way the Palestinians have been denied their rights, the bombings in the area and the terror unleashed, qualifies it being characterised as an apartheid type of State.
When asked about the bombings from Hamas into Israel, he said the situation has become a tinder box where those who are living under oppression, whose rights have been violated feel that they have a right to defend themselves.
“When the ANC [African National Congress] took up arms to fight apartheid we said that that is justifiable because we were fighting against an authority that was using both the law and absolute terror against people who were fighting for their own rights," Ramaphosa said.
FINANCING OF AFRICAN ECONOMIES SUMMIT
Ramaphosa said he was satisfied with “concrete results” that came out of the summit.
“We have come up with a declaration, a very balanced declaration that addresses the need for a new deal for Africa in terms of dealing with what Covid has done to our economies but what Covid has also done to our health situation on our continent and we address two issues principally,” he said.
He spoke of “vaccine apartheid” and repeated that it was unacceptable that only 2% of the African population had been vaccinated.
He said western countries had prepaid for vaccines and have a huge surplus while Africa has no access. He said it could be characterised as vaccine imperialism.
He said it was discussed at the summit that vaccine nationalism must come to an end and that vaccines should be accessible to all people, because African lives are just as important as European lives or American lives.
“We will never be able to defeat the pandemic if we try to defeat it in the northern hemisphere only and not in the South. It must be done all over the world at the same time,” said Ramaphosa.
He urged the immediate access to surplus vaccines from the north to countries of the south.
He spoke of the waiver of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement, which would suspend intellectual property rights, such as patents and trademarks, on products required to fight Covid-19 for the duration of the pandemic.
Ramaphosa said he was confident that a solution to intellectual property rights around the vaccine would be found and stressed that South Africa and other countries were only calling for a temporary TRIPs waiver, for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.