Defend Truth


Heckling, call to ‘grow up’, drowning out mark heated Bo-Kaap election debate

Heckling, call to ‘grow up’, drowning out mark heated Bo-Kaap election debate
Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi on 24 November 2022. (File photo: Felix Dlangamandla) I Residents of Bo-Kaap packed the Schotsche Kloof Primary School hall for the debate. (Photo: Suné Payne) I EFF MP Nazier Paulsen at the election debate in Bo-Kaap on 21 May 2024. (Photo: Suné Payne)

With just days to go before the elections, heckles, shouting and eye rolls were a key feature of a political debate held in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town.

Party positions on the Israel-Hamas war and community development in Bo-Kaap were top of the mind among residents of the country’s oldest Muslim settlement during a heated election debate on Tuesday, 21 May. 

The debate, hosted by the Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association at the Schotsche Kloof Primary School hall, became so heated at one point that Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi told fellow panellist Nazier Paulsen from the EFF to “grow up”. 

Throughout the debate, the Israel-Hamas war was a key feature, through questions, the visible keffiyeh scarves and signs saying “Free Palestine” – which is not surprising in Bo-Kaap, an area known for not only its large Muslim population but its well-documented activism, most recently in 2019 over issues of gentrification. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Bo-Kaap must have heritage status, say residents of the country’s oldest Muslim settlement

Questions were asked about Rise Mzansi’s funding, from Rebecca Oppenheimer, of about R15-million. He was asked whether this affected his party’s position on the war. Zibi replied that “our position on Palestine is clear”, and when pushed by the audience and by Paulsen on whether what was happening in Gaza was genocide, he said: “First of all, it is a genocide.” 


Songezo Zibi, leader of Rise Mzansi, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 21 April 2023. (Photo: Leon Sadiki / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Even while Zibi was addressing the question, Paulsen kept making remarks, at which point Zibi told Paulsen to “grow up”. Zibi went further, saying “this is the kind of politics that turn people away from politics”. 

It was then the DA’s chance to answer whether, as a party, it thought the war was a genocide. In response, Riad Davids, a City of Cape Town councillor, had to repeat several times, even on WhatsApp: “I say stop the genocide.” However, he was heckled as the audience wanted to know his party’s stance on the issue. As Davids tried to explain further, he was heckled to the point that he became inaudible. 

As Daily Maverick reported in 2023, the Israel-Hamas war has become a hot-button election issue and there are fears, especially in the Western Cape, that the DA’s stance on the issue could affect voting patterns. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: How the Israel-Hamas war is stirring up Western Cape politics

During the debate, GOOD’s representative, Shahin van Nelson, asked the audience how they could believe what Davids was saying, adding that “our people must stop believing lies”. 

Advocate Shameemah Dollie Salie, an Al Jama-ah councillor in Cape Town, during the election debate in Bo-Kaap on 21 May 2024. (Photo: Suné Payne)


GOOD party councillor Shahin van Nelson at the debate in Bo-Kaap on 21 May 2024. (Photo: Suné Payne)

Several people in the audience praised the ANC’s support for the Palestinians. One woman told ANC representative Muhammad Khalid Sayed that while the party’s policies were “brilliant” the implementation was lacking. 

Another person asked which parties would support a boycott bill, to which independent candidate Zackie Achmat said he would support a boycott and divestment bill, and that Sayed should take the message to ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to get one going immediately. 

Independent candidate Zackie Achmat speaks during the election debate in Bo-Kaap on 21 May 2024. (Photo: Suné Payne)

In the last election the ANC gained the most support at the voting station, receiving 731 votes, compared with the DA’s 431 and 264 for Al Jama-ah. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC is keen to win in Cape Town’s historic Bo-Kaap, says Duarte

Also in the audience was Ward 77 (Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof and Bo-Kaap) councillor Francine Higham (DA) and Western Cape member of the legislature Aishah Cassiem (EFF), Rise Mzansi Western Cape premier candidate Axolile Notywala as well representatives from other parties. 

But the debate wasn’t all about the war. 

DA councillor Riad Davids at the Bo-Kaap debate on 21 May 2024. He was heckled throughout the debate over his party’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war. (Photo: Suné Payne)

Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers Association representative Osman Shaboodien during the debate on 21 May 2024 in the area. (Photo: Suné Payne)

EFF MP Nazier Paulsen at the Bo-Kaap debate on 21 May. (Photo: Suné Payne)

The audience was asked about housing and social integration – and the responses were mixed. When asked about how Bo-Kaap, an area rich in tourist spots, could have job creation, Davids was heckled when he claimed its residents were “lucky” that they did not suffer forced removals, which elicited a roaring response. At one point someone shouted at him: “It’s because of the DA we’re sitting with gentrification.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

Other candidates pushed for the cutting of red tape to allow for more small businesses, while others such as Al Jama-ah’s Shameemah Dollie Salie called for trade zones within Bo-Kaap where only locally manufactured goods such as clothing could be sold. 

The elections will be held next week, on Wednesday, 29 May. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Sid Peimer says:

    Very concerning that the stance on the Gaza war was the main lever for support of a political party. This is a repeat of the 1930’s with the Jew as the ‘reason for our suffering’, and not the governing party. My days here are clearly numbered.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    What is it that they are more interested on party opinions on an issue that has no bearing on their lives. One says the ANC is “brilliant” because it takes a position that is populist on Gaza but meanwhile destroys everything in this country. They all need to grow up including the ones who were forced to say “it is a genocide”. If they believe it they haven’t analysed the facts and if they don’t believe it they are weak and have no integrity.

    • td _a says:

      the israel-gaza issue has taken a much broader idealogical meaning for many people than just about israel-gaza.
      israel has become synonymous with a vague concept of “the oppressor”, while gazans are “the oppressed”.
      people therefore want to know if you are supporting oppression or the oppressed

    • Nazeem Davids says:

      It’s not a genocide? So all the independent European and American monitors and observers of most governments in the Western world are wring? They are all duped? Haaretz an Israeli newspaper acknowledges this. President Biden’s Jewish staff members resigned from his office in protest because they cannot support a genocide anymore but YOU think the world doesn’t have the facts. Wow you must have great insight the rest of us are ignorant about

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Is it yet apparent why the ANC has taken up these cudgels? From the crafters of State Capture – did they suddenly grow a moral compass, or are they the deftest politicians in the house, masters of deflection and manufacturing votes? May not need to stuff ballots (this time)

  • Fernando Moreira says:

    Imagine wanting delivery ,and an improvement in life but voting against this !

    Brainwashed and ideological beyond common sense!

  • Shirley Gobey says:

    It is so hypocritical that they bash the DA for not supporting Gaza but not bothered that Gayton McKenzie supports Israel!

  • Geoff Coles says:

    An exhibition of primitiveness seen in Bo-Kaap as much on the streets of London!

  • John Lewis says:

    Sadly, the people in Bo-Kaap are playing identity politics by simply aligning with a bunch of people on the other side of the world for no reason other than sharing the same religion. It’s to their detriment that they are easily manipulated by the populists.

    • Nazeem Davids says:

      ‘simply aligning with a bunch of people on the other side of the world’ If ever there was a trivialising of the wholesale slaughter of human beings, then this is it. Those same bunch of people are being slaughtered so that European and American colonial settlers could occupy their land because they have a Mediterranean seaside location worth billions of dollars. Sounds like you have no idea this was the motivation of the genocide in Gaza all along. Just think of South Africa and the Atlantic seaboard in 1890 when the British were our colonial masters. Btw you’re still here!!

      • John Lewis says:

        No, I’m not.

      • John Lewis says:

        The fact that you’re silent about hundreds of thousands killed by Moslems in Yemen and Syria as well as the execution machine running in Iran speaks volumes. Also nothing to say about closer to home issues like Boko Haram killing 60,000 Christians in Nigeria. I thus find the motivations for the principled stand about Gaza among local Moslems to very dubious!

  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    Not worth a campaign meeting for tiny number of votes

  • Stephen Paul says:

    What a farce that in a South African election political meeting the level of intimidation is so high that it makes a mockery of intelligent engagement from the party representatives. What a pity that the good people of Bo Kaap do not display the same level of concern and activism for their co-religionists in China where the Chinese authorities are perpetrating real genocide and ethnic cleansing against millions of the muslim Uyghur people.

    • Nazeem Davids says:

      Are you suggesting that the only South Africans protesting the Genocide by the Colonial occupiers are Muslims? And that South Africans, of all persuasion, has not shown their opposition to other oppressed peoples in the world? That’s a cheap shot that has been refuted by so many protests, meetings and utterances which you have no idea about. You think because it hasn’t been published in the mainstream media it hasn’t happened. Read more widely then.

      • John Lewis says:

        When were the protests about systematic slaughter of Iranian dissidents or the murder of Christians by Boko Haram? That’s right, there weren’t any.

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        Nazeem there has been no genocide in Gaza, except for the attempts by Hamas to wipe out all the Jews. There are also no colonial occupiers at the moment, other than your co-religionist brethren, who have successfully colonized the whole of the middle east and north Africa, and are giving it a good bash in the rest of the world (for ease of reference look at the pictures of the people in this this article – no-one will recall most South Africans dressing like this a few years go, and sure as heck there weren’t any indigenous South Africans who looked like this a few hundred years ago, before “colonization”)

      • Stephen Paul says:

        A cheap shot ? How many public protests and marches, mostly populated by muslims, for the Uyghur and other oppressed peoples mentioned in these Comments, have you seen in Cape Town. ? That you have meetings and utterances in your own community and media is praiseworthy but somehow deemed not worthy of any more activism and completely irrelevant to the difference in how the Palestinians have become the cause celebre and totally blameless for their plight. It is valid to question this highly selective human rights concern. Inflamed rhetoric like Genocide and Colonists, and revisionist history without context, abuses language and complex different narratives to demean the real meaning and import of what the words represent, and make rational engagement sadly a futile exercise.

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    Gentrification is because of the DA. It’s happening because they run the city well and thus people want to live here. Demand outstrips supply and prices rise.
    To think that you have any right to keep an area “reserved” for a religious grouping is ridiculous in the context of SA’s constitution and past.

  • Nazeem Davids says:

    After reading the comments i can understand why we have the most unequal society in the world. I suspect there is a complete vacuum between societal structures in South Africa and the lucky few who can transcend this barrier will be happy to live in this country. During Apartheid the majority of White and some rich Coloured and Indian families had no idea what
    horrors apartheid had commited. Unfortunately the remnants of that mentality is still around. Sorry guys you have no excuse anymore. Everything has been exposed. Including the crap the ANC has been catching on.

    • Mike Monson says:

      It seems from your replies that your motivation stems from a hatred for Jews from an ideological stand point, rather than a love for anything. I would say that is the last thing that our country needs. However, this kind of populist discourse serves to deflect from the real issues and you gullibly follow the ANC’s lead again.

  • David Jeannot says:

    It is clear to any person with an objective mind to see that the ANC has used this war in their favour. They seized on the opportunity to boost their standings in the polls before the upcoming election at a time when their popularity hit an all-time low. Of course, the ANC is allergic to producing better service delivery and accountable governance as they rather took a page out of the play book for autocracies.

  • Always enjoy reading Daily Maverick

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.