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Redi Tlhabi tears into Mabine Seabe over Maimane trip to Israel

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s current trip to Israel has raised quite a stir. And for good reason. Looking for some answers, Redi Tlhabi, on her afternoon show on 702 spoke to Maimane’s spokesperson about the timing of the trip, the decision to use the South African flag in the photo-shoot with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and generally WTF was Maimane thinking by going there in the first place.

The interview was completely lit and Mabine Seabe certainly looked like a tool by the end of it. 

But don’t take our word for it. Read the full transcript below.

Redi Tlhabi: There’s been a lot of reaction to Mmusi Maimane’s recent visit to Israel and his picture with Benjamin Netanyahu. The ANC in the Western Cape said it was revolted with Maimane’s meeting with Israeli leaders and there is an ANC response as well, saying that the opposition party had betrayed efforts by Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo to build solidarity with the Palestinians. Many organisations and people are talking about it and tweeting about it. But in the DA’s response, they’re saying that Maimane had met with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and other opposition politicians and that some meetings had also been cancelled, particularly with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. Mabine Seabe, the spokesperson for Mmusi Maimane, joins us now.

Welcome to the show. My question is, it isn’t illegal to visit Israel or take a picture with Benjamin Netanyahu. But there is a history here, that Israel supported Apartheid in South Africa. Israel is being condemned for illegal settlements. The United Nations Security Council have expressed its pronouncement on this. There was a Secretary of State of the United States (John Kerry) also recently lambasting Israel. Symbolically, Mmusi Maimane being there with Netanyahu and taking pictures with all this history taken into account is problematic.

Seabe: I hear your concern. But we must also look at this in the wider picture and the recent picture with the leader of the Democratic Alliance. The visit was to look at the situation first hand, with both and Israeli and a Palestinian perspective. The leader had met with the Israeli president and the Palestinian Authority’s president who cancelled at the last minute. He did meet with Palestinian officials there as well as activists. And this is to ensure that we can, as South African’s represented in parliament as an opposition party, that once occupied the…

Tlhabi: This line is bad. This is too important a matter to just sift through and carry on in this bad line. I’ll put you on hold, I’ve got a lot of questions that I would like you to answer. I want to give you a fair chance to respond to them. I know this is an emotive issue in South Africa but let’s be real here. In my experience as a talk show host, every time you speak Middle Eastern politics, it goes South. I’m unapologetically dealing with this matter because it is important, and I know already that there is a reaction which seems to suggest that there is anti-Semitism when Israel is being criticised. I make a distinction between the State of Israel and Jewish identity. This is not an attack on Jewish identity, I am dealing with this solely from a political point of view. We’re dealing with the State of Israel and we’re not going to conflate the two. (To Seabe) I’m sorry, the line was bad, I asked you about the symbolism of this given the history of Apartheid South Africa with Israel.

Seabe: I understand the concern of many South Africans but we must look at this matter holistically. The reason for the visit of the leader of the Democratic Alliance to both Israel and Palestine and meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian activists. We want to understand this matter on a first hand basis. We’re not just the party of opposition, we’re the party in government in many jurisdictions across South Africa. We’re the party that wants to enter the Union Buildings in 2019. Therefore we must have a full understanding of the crisis that is in this region so that we can play a meaningful role in resolving the crisis.

Tlhabi: With all due respect, what is it that you don’t understand? Let’s just go back to apartheid South Africa. If people were taking pictures with the apartheid government saying that they wanted to understand Apartheid – it’s about human rights and illegal settlements, occupation and the backing of Apartheid. Where we are now in 2017 as a free South Africa, what is it that the DA doesn’t seem to understand? I wonder, how might you have reacted when people were posing with Verwoerd and saying they just want to understand?

Seabe: It’s very irresponsible for us as a political party to rely on media reports. We need to get a first hand understanding of what’s happening there, and that includes meeting with both sides on this matter. We as the Democratic Alliance support the UN Resolution, as well as the government’s position which calls for a two-state solution. We need to have all the facts on the table on what the road forward is and how we can solve this crisis. As much as it is a crisis of the region it’s also an international crisis that affects all South Africans. South Africa’s foreign policy is supposedly based on human rights.

Tlhabi: But that’s exactly the point. Based on human rights, but illegal settlements are not human rights, Surely, Maimane should have been sensitive to that. He is posing with a party that is seen as the power in this crisis.

Seabe: We need to know both sides of the story. This has been one-sided, people have been focusing on the fact that we went to Israel when we have been to Palestine as well, to understand their grievances. It would be irresponsible for us to make the position and articulate the position without having all the facts on the table.

Tlhabi: I think positions have been articulated even in the United Nations which is why I’m surprised that the DA doesn’t have the clarity when the world body has spoken on this particular matter.

Seabe: As a party represented in parliament that wants to bring solutions to the table, we must be able to go there with empirical evidence and our own observations.

Tlhabi: Do you doubt the legitimacy of illegal settlements?

Seabe: We don’t doubt anything. But as a party represented in the South African parliament we must be sure we have the right information and that we get this information first hand.

Tlhabi: What about the use of the South African flag? Mmusi Maimane is not the head of state, on what basis was Mmusi using the flag?

Seabe: That was not an arrangement made by us, it was made by Netanyahu’s office.

Tlhabi: And you couldn’t correct them as to the sensitivity and inappropriateness of it? It just happened to you?

Seabe: Well, we’re not going to dictate the terms…

Tlhabi: Oh, come on Mabine! If I’m going somewhere and I’m representing Redi Tlhabi as a talk show host and 702’s banner is used I would intervene. I’m using a very simple example to communicate something very serious. I would intervene.

Seabe: I don’t see how that’s problematic, the South African flag being used in this regard.

Tlhabi: Your first answer is that you were not responsible for it, they did it, which was a tacit acknowledgement that it wasn’t appropriate because he’s not the head of state. Now you’re saying you don’t think there was anything wrong with it.

Seabe: The South African flag is owned by the people of South Africa, not the head of state alone.

Tlhabi: When someone who is the leader of the official opposition party goes to visit and stand on the global stage with the prime minister of Israel, a controversial figure, and the South African flag is there, I think you are smart enough, and Maimane is smart enough, to see that symbolically it’s communicating to the world that this is South Africa’s stance. This is a message from someone powerful in South Africa. A flag is not just a flag in the context. It is speaking about two nations coming together. Mmusi Maimane cannot be going there as a representative of a nation given that he’s not the head of state.

Seabe: He can go as a representative of parliament and in his own capacity to represent the party there. We have a diplomatic representative of the country in Israel. Those arrangements were made in Netanyahu’s office to ensure that the right protocol was made for a leader from South Africa. Maybe not the government’s leader but the leader of the country’s official opposition of a constitutionally recognised position.

Tlhabi: I think you are waffling, Mabine. You are talking about representation and I’m talking about the nation, the state was not representing that. You could have used the DA’s flag if you were there, representing the DA. But I’m saying that it was quite cunning to agree to put the South African flag there knowing the kind of message that that would send out. But we have run out of time, thank you for talking to us. Make up your own mind about what is legal and what is just.

25 Comments
  1. Sue says

    This is not journalism, it is advocacy and haranguing of the most narrow-minded kind. Why doesn’t Thlabi visit Israel and Palestine to see the situation for herself, instead of simply relying on her prejudices to bolster her argument?

    1. 88 the Pitorian says

      Go read my response to your asswhipe comment

    2. Dave says

      Well said, Sue. Sounds like this Tlhabi is an ANC apologist who wouldn’t know the meaning of ‘democracy’ if it jumped up and kicked her biased backside.

      1. Fathima says

        Not particularly. But I suppose the white man can’t see why he shouldn’t stand on the heads of others to get what he wants. EVEN though it never belonged to him in the first place

      2. Kolin Thumbadoo says

        Fascile and hasbara ignorant as most zionists are.Isreal is as morally,politically and socially bankrupt and repugnant as Apartheid except that it is actually worse and has absolutely no right to exist under any circumstance.Given the horrific,murderous barbarity of the Isreali regime since it’s misconception the empirical evidence of the oppression of Palestinians is glaringly obvious and does not require a visit to occupied Palestine.The DA is as captured as many other political parties are through a sustained orchestrated campaign by the pariah Isreali state to infiltrate,undermine and suborne democratic parties in order to propagandise its rancid existence.One has only to observe how leading imperial/colonial nations (US/UK) have be suborned by AIPAC and Labour Friends of Isreal.It is no surprise that the Isreali ambassador who is at the heart of the campaign to destabalise the British parliament is none other than an apartheid priveleged “son”of South Africa. The ANC itself through a patheticly tepid and vacuous policy on Isreal has allowed the DA to indulge in this heinous act of collaboration with the zionist state.

    3. Pam says

      It’s disgusting that Israel should apologize for its existence. It’s achieved so much in its short existence unlike many other counties that plunder and destroy. If the Palestinians used the millions donated by the misguided UN, for building cities, innovating and teaching their people to achieve rather then slaughter – they would be prosper too. . Redi is relying on rhetoric and hearsay – her personal opinions should be formed by first-hand information. Oh and by the way – you can’t separate the Jews from Israel!

  2. 88 the Pitorian says

    Only a stupid DA supporter would say that Suetjie, you’re probably not a journalist yourself dear. You’re deflecting the argument to Redi going to Isreal herself?! Ka Spitori re re wa nyela rof, I for one to not buy this story. The DA thinks they’re entering the Union Buildings come next election and as a party largely backed by the West Mushi Maimoney was simply there to take instructions from Massa. We all know that Israel runs the USA hence it has supported the continuous Apartheid on Palestine, don’t think for a second that we’ll allow Apartheid back into power. Blood will flood this land before we allow them back in power.

    1. Dave says

      Spoken like a true ANC troll.

    2. Petrus Civis says

      Luckily, the DA doesn’t want “power”. It merely wants to serve, and the number of people who realise that is increasing all the time. Hence your desperate aggression.

  3. Sam says

    DA is a puppet of Israel…it will never rule the country of Nelson Mandela

    1. Petrus Civis says

      That’s fine, because unlike your swaggering ANC, the DA has no desire to rule. It merely wants to serve, which it is already doing with massive success in the Western Cape and several major metros.

  4. John says

    “There is no room for discrimination, whether it`s called apartheid or any other name,“ Peres said. “We repeat that we express our denunciation of the system of apartheid. The Jewish outlook is that every man was born in the image of God and created equal.“ Israeli PM Peres announcing sanctions against the apartheid government as recorded by the Chicago Tribune in 1987

  5. Petrus Civis says

    Damn… tis website really, deeply hates Israel, huh?

  6. Thabiet says

    Stealing something no matter what is a crime, and no amount of time will ever change that fact . What is worse than stealing is killing to protect what you steal.

  7. […] Friday, 702 presenter Redi Tlhabi suggested Maimane should by now have enough of an understanding of Palestine and Israel to know better than […]

  8. malvesty says

    Deeply biased article. This is not journalism, it is propaganda. I do not properly understand the Palestinian conflict, and the reason for that is that the journalism is always so one-sided and biased against the Jews that I don’t get a chance to understand their position.

    There are always two sides to a dispute, and its not true that one is always wrong, usually both sides are wrong and the truth sits in the middle ground.

  9. Thabiet says

    If you do not understand the conflict then why say the article is biased. That in itself is bias. But let’s make it easy for you. Answer these easy questions and you will understand the conflict.
    1 ) If you steal something does it ever become yours.
    2) If you kill to protect what you have stolen does the stolen then belong to you.

    Depending on your answer, that will define your understanding of the conflict.

  10. Tkzee says

    Its very sad that a journalist like Redi,knows so must but understands nothing. Such a shame Redi. Advice for you girl, stop relying on what the ANC or the UN tells you about ISRAEL,visit the country and see for your self,there is nothing like apartheid in ISRAEL…….. Jews are the legal custodian of that Land for over 2000 years and Jerusalem is their undivided capital.

  11. Rodney Mazinter says

    Redi, as a professional journalist you above all, should know that the cornerstone of your profession is to investigate all sides of any matter before rushing to print, radio or TV. Anything less exposes you to accusations of bias, diminishes your professional standing and reduces you to the status of propagandist. Israel and the Palestinians are a case in point. What you champion in the Palestinians does not square with what they are saying about themselves and the role they are playing in the conflict. Palestinian Media Watch is a non-governmental, independent monitoring organisation that reviews the Palestinian Press, radio, TV and Abbas’ educational structure and policy. Copy and Google the link below, see what is really happening and ask yourself if Mmusi Maimane’s visit was in fact an exercise in responsible diplomacy and statesmanship and if it is not the Palestinians who are the spanner in the works in seeking peace.
    http://bit.ly/2k7wLd2

  12. Charlotte says

    Your racist bias is obvious
    When you give it stick
    With anti-Semitic rhetoric
    Rather stick to facts
    Your ‘questions’ amount to verbal attacks

    The DA were not on a staged tour and they did not lie. Israel is not an ‘apartheid state’ – not is, never was. It is a vibrant, incredibly forward-thinking little country – the only democracy in the Middle East. They want peace – but they need to protect themselves. (Hamas is a terrorist organisation).
    Mr. Maimane and the DA are to be commended for investigating for themselves what is in S. Africa’s best interests – unlike the Z.ANC government, which does nothing but gorge on its own corruption, greed, racism and sheer ineptitude – and divert attention from it by pointing fingers at opposition parties, playing the race-card and the ‘blame game’.
    Read: DA confirmed a meeting with Abbas by Phumzile Van Damme on Politicsweb 16th Jan. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/da-confirmed-a-meeting-with-abbas–phumzile-van-da?utm_source=Politicsweb+Daily+Headlines&utm_campaign=0af36b5d14-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_16&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a86f25db99-0af36b5d14-140186361

  13. Thabiet says

    Redi I commend you for your professionalism and saying it like it is. I guess these commentators were all fighting apartheid tooth and nails here in South Africa, or wait in there eyes there was probably no apartheid here. The suffering of us poor blacks were probably self inflicted.

  14. Charlotte says

    @ Thabiet. You keep repeating your same postulations – and they still make no sense.
    You know what they say about stupidity:
    “Better keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool, than open it and let them be sure.”

    and b.t.w. is being uninformed and downright rude, like Redi was, professional in your book?
    (mind you, I guess that figures!)

  15. Thabiet says

    I will repeat myself until you stop trying to stop the truth. It must be sad being you living and defending lies all the time.

    Stealing something no matter what is a crime, and no amount of time will ever change that fact. What is worse than stealing is killing to protect what you steal. Stupid me I just said it again.

  16. Charlotte says

    @Thabiet “What is worse than stealing is killing to protect what you steal.”
    Wow! What an observation! How profound! Maybe somebody will quote you some day, instead of you quoting yourself over and over again.
    ” Stupid me I just said it again.” — Indeed you are. And indeed you did. And by so doing, you have proved your own point.

    – Anyway, I’m done. You can have the last word if you wish. It will undoubtedly be as banal as the rest.
    .

  17. Thabiet says

    I think I need a pat on the back another troll back in its whole.
    The truth has a way of hurting.
    And that quote I’d like to be remembered by.

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