Following exposure and pressure by the African National Congress (ANC) and other organizations on the City of Cape Town, the DA-led city has now changed its anti-Palestinian decision to deny a protest outside the upcoming concert of Woolworths style manager and and apparent Israeli sympathizer Pharrell Williams.
Earlier this week, in a recorded meeting with stakeholders, the City's representative who chaired the meeting, Mr Anele Viti stated: "We revoke the permit, we will issue a notice revoking the permit”.
Subsequent to our public condemnation the City has now done a U-Turn, changed its tone and blatantly lied about denying the permit.
Today activists received a different notification from Viti, now allowing the protest. However the city has restricted the protest to 150 people only, instead of the planned 50 000 people which was requested. Last year the ANC together with the National Coalition 4 Palestine, MJC, BDS South Africa and others were part of a 200 000 strong Palestine solidarity march, but the city wants to allow only 150 people?
Having failed to stop the protest the DA is now attempting to reduce the impact of the protest. The City of Cpae Town is unilaterally attempting to move the location of the protest to one more convenient for Pharrell Williams and procedurally reducing the number of people allowed to protest. The City has taken these steps to reduce the numbers and location without any engagement on this with protest organisers. This move is not only anti-Palestinian but anti-civil society.
The DA council has again failed to meet it's legal responsibility to engage and used a dictatorial approach towards Palestinian solidarity protestors. Furthermore the City of Cape Town's inclusion in the permit approval of a claim that incidents of violence have occurred at similar (Palestinian) solidarity protests is dishonest and another reflection of their pro-Israeli agenda.
The ANC will support and assist other civil society, faith based and community organisations in mobilising for the upcoming Palestine solidarity protests. We have also encouraged the applicants to appeal against the stringent limitations on the gathering.
The gathering was for 50 000 and the ANC believes that civil society has a right to gather in such large numbers. It is strange that the city approves large protest applications to march on our national parliament and against elected politicians, during times that are inconvenient, blocking roads and disrupting traffic, but will not allow traffic to Grand West casino to be affected by human-rights protestors. They are willing to limit protestors' right to protest and instead protect Woolworths and its style manager Pharrell Williams, which has been the target of #BoycottWoolworths the biggest consumer boycott campaign against a retailer since democracy.
The ANC will continue to support and demand that the right of civil society to gather and protest, especially for human rights, must be respected by the DA and its officials and not restricted or artificially managed.
Issued: Faiez Jacobs, ANC Western Cape Secretary +27 (0) 83 633 7690