Ramaphosa warns ANC of foreign interference in 2024 elections amidst Israel ICJ clash

In the face of South Africa’s legal action against Israel at the United Nations court, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed concern that foreign powers may meddle in the upcoming crucial election. The International Court of Justice urged Israel to prevent Palestinian casualties but stopped short of an immediate cease-fire. Israel denies the genocide accusation, and Ramaphosa, addressing the ruling ANC, warned of a potential fightback targeting domestic politics. Analysts caution about strained relations with trading partners supporting Israel. Despite risks, Ramaphosa remains committed to peace talks as the ANC braces for its toughest election since 1994.

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By S’thembile Cele

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the nation’s case against Israel in a top United Nations court could result in foreign powers interfering with the outcomes of this year’s crucial election, where his party risks losing its majority.

The International Court of Justice on Friday said that Israel — accused by South Africa of genocide amid its crackdown on Hamas — must act to prevent Palestinians from being killed or injured, but stopped short of demanding an immediate cease-fire. 

Israel has denied the allegation made by South Africa that it is has an intention to commit genocide. 

Addressing a meeting of the ruling African National Congress in his capacity as party leader Tuesday, Ramaphosa said South Africa’s success “has exposed not only the atrocities that are being carried out by the state of Israel, it also has exposed the moral bankruptcy of those countries who by acts of commission or omission are allowing genocide to take place in Gaza on their watch.” 

Ramaphosa warned party members to brace themselves for a fightback campaign.

“The fightback may also focus on our domestic politics and our electoral outcomes in order to pursue the regime change agenda,” he said in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.

Some analysts have warned that South Africa risked raising the ire of some of it’s top trading partners who have aligned themselves with Israel in the conflict. Ramaphosa said that his government had used the correct channels to raise its concerns.

“We didn’t take the matter to a kangaroo court — we went to the very court that they themselves set up in terms of the rules that they set up and we should not be blamed for doing so,” he said.

Ramaphosa has yet to proclaim a date for the 2024 election, which must take place by August. It will be the ANC’s toughest vote since coming into power in 1994, with some polls suggesting that the party could lose its majority and will be forced to rely on smaller parties to form a government.

The ANC president has insisted that the party will retain its majority and that it is not entertaining any negotiations on coalitions. Among the biggest risks to the ANC’s rule is a power crisis spanning 15 years, a failing rail network that’s pummeling revenue and among the highest unemployment rates worldwide.

Ramaphosa said that while “risks” and “dangers” lay in store for the government’s position on the Israel-Gaza conflict, it would continue to participate in mediation talks, to which it has been invited. He insisted that peace negotiations remained the only viable solution to ending the war.

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