Dr Mpho Phalatse, the City of Johannesburg MMC for Health and Social Development, has been reinstated and went back to work on 28 June.
This on condition that she publicly apologises for her 10 June remarks on Israel and attends a workshop to better understand the complexity of issues in the Middle East. She had already issued an apology on 26 June.
She was suspended by Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba amid condemnation for her stance on Israel. Phalatse declared her support for Israel during a celebration to mark 70 years of the re-founding of the state of Israel, which was a function organised by South African Friends of Israel and held at the City Hall in downtown Johannesburg.
ICYMI @HermanMashaba has suspended MMC of Health #MphoPhalatse for saying @CityofJoburgZA is a friend of #Israel. This is the fifth MMC to be removed after Anthony Still, Rabelani Dagada, Sharon Peetz, Mzobanzi Ntuli
Pic: Cliff Shiko @Alexfm891 pic.twitter.com/61B86wHyIn
— Cliff Shiko (@CliffShiko) June 12, 2018
Here, she publicly declared that the ‘City and herself were now friends of Israel’.
Mashaba then announced that an investigation would be launched. This investigation has since found that Phalatse did not contravene the Democratic Alliance’s, policy position of the party on its commitment to a two-state solution. The party is of the view that the solution is ‘a secure and prosperous Israel coexisting peacefully alongside a secure and prosperous Palestine’.
However, the investigation also found that Phalatse failed to ensure that sound judgement informed the manner in which she approached her official duties when she made the statement.
In her apology, Phalatse said she regretted that her statement caused confusion and hurt.
“I realise that the nature of the Middle East conflict is a very challenging and sensitive subject which, if not approached with the required consideration, causes acrimony in our diverse society,” she said.
“In the unpublicised component of my speech, I specifically spoke to the commitment of the DA and our government to achieving freedom, fairness, opportunity and diversity in Johannesburg. The publicised component of the speech denied the listener the relevant context which was captured in the content preceding those parting remarks. This led to a lot of confusion, and I realise that many were offended as a result.”
Phalatse also said she was not suggesting that the City has assumed a particular position in the Israel-Palestine matter, as this would fall outside of the City’s direct mandate.
Mashaba assured residents that Phalatse’s return is for the good of serving the City. “MMC Phalatse, a medical doctor by profession, has proven to be a high-performing Member of the Mayoral Committee. Her leadership of her department has been instrumental in the achievement of extended operating hours at City clinics and the rollout of our substance abuse facilities,” he said.
“The residents of the City, especially those in need of primary health care and social services, would be best served by the return of MMC Phalatse.”