In his first statement as chairperson of the African Union (AU) South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday compared US President Donald Trump’s “Peace Plan” for Palestine to that of apartheid South Africa’s Bantustan system.
“It brought to mind a horrible history that we, as South Africa, went through. The apartheid regime once imposed a Bantustan system on the people of South Africa without consulting them,” said Ramaphosa. He was speaking in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, during the 33rd African Union Summit, held under the theme "Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions For Africa’s Development."
Ramaphosa said that as he listened to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's speech on the Trump plan, “it sounds like this plan has been consulted without all the people that matter – especially the Palestinians - and it sounds like a Bantustan type of construct."
Ramaphosa was referring to disjointed territories set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid. While Pretoria claimed that these were independent, sovereign states where citizens had full rights, the homelands were - in reality - under the complete control of the apartheid regime.
Under Trump’s plan, Israel would annex over 30% of the West Bank – the site of a future Palestinian state. The plan creates a demilitarized Palestinian state on a series of disconnected patches of land. Palestinians would have no control over its own security, borders, waters, and foreign policy, ceding these to Israel.
Ramaphosa's statements came after the president of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, told the assembled heads of state that the plan, published at the end of January, represented a “violation of multiple resolutions of the United Nations and the African Union.”
Mahamat said Trump's peace plan was prepared by himself without international consultation and that he "trampled on the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Mahamat reiterated “the solidarity of the AU with the Palestinian people in their legitimate search for an independent and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as capital."