Government can't be expected to account for Hamas' presence in SA, says Ntshavheni
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the government cannot be expected to account for the presence of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in South Africa if its members are in the country on private business.
As the UN has not declared the organisation a terrorist group, the government would not track the presence of individuals on private visits.
Ntshavheni on Thursday briefed media about the outcomes of the previous day’s cabinet meeting. She was asked about the group’s visit to SA while some countries have declared Hamas a terrorist organisation.
“I don’t recall the UN classification of Hamas as terrorists and we are not tracking the presence of individuals in the country,” she said.
“We don’t know of a Hamas office in South Africa, so I can’t say there’s Hamas [or] there’s no Hamas. We do not have that type of evidence, but there is no UN declaration that classifies Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
“You will recall when organisations are classified as terrorist organisations, they must be done so by the UN — otherwise the ANC would have been declared a terrorist organisation because the apartheid regime had called the ANC a terrorist organisation.”
She didn’t know “how government must account for people who are coming to attend private conferences hosted in the country”.
“If they meet government, we will announce — but so far we have no schedule of meeting them.”
Hamas announced on Wednesday a three-member senior delegation was in the country to participate in the Fifth Global Convention of Solidarity with Palestine which starts in Johannesburg on Saturday.
While in the country, the group — comprising politburo member Bassem Naim, Hamas representative in Iran Khaled Qaddoumi and Hamas international relations director for East, Central and Southern Africa Emad Saber — will meet representatives of political parties, civil society groups and the Palestine solidarity movement to “provide updates” about Israel’s actions in Gaza and to hear South Africans’ views on the global solidarity movement and the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.
The convention is jointly organised by the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine and the Royal House of Mandela and will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the campaign’s launch and the death of former president Nelson Mandela.
The conference theme is “Nelson Mandela and Palestine: Confronting Racism till Liberation”.
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