Jewish ancestry threatens political future of African politician

It’s “an outrage that in 2021 a person can be disqualified for having a Jewish parent,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association.

By World Israel News Staff

Popular Congo businessman and politician Moise Katumbi’s eligibility as a presidential candidate is now being challenged because his father was Jewish.

Ahead of the 2023 national election, lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have introduced a bill to restrict the presidency to individuals with two Congolese parents, Reuters reported.

Katumbi’s father was a Sephardic Jew who fled Rhodes Island in 1938, after the introduction of discriminatory racial laws by the fascist Italian occupation regime, He settled in the Congo, where he married Katumbi’s mother, a native Congolese from a prominent family.

The bill, championed by an ally of President Felix Tshisekedi, was introduced to parliament on Thursday. Supporters claim it seeks to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and prevent foreign meddling, the Reuters report said.

A date for the vote on the bill has not yet been scheduled. However, the issue has infuriated Katumbi’s supporters, raising fears of renewed violence in the African country that has suffered many wars triggered by political and ethnic rivalry. The 1998-2003 war claimed millions of lives.

It’s “an outrage that in 2021 a person can be disqualified for having a Jewish parent,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association and an ally of Katumbi, stated, according to JTA.

On Monday, 10 ‘great chiefs’ — community leaders wielding significant followings, influence and money — threatened to support secession if the bill is passed, Reuters reported.

The UN peacekeeping mission head in Congo, Bintou Keita, warned against the “dangerous consequences of a divisive debate about nationality,” the report said.

“It is clearly a maneuver by those who want to hold onto power,” Olivier Kamitatu, Katumbi’s spokesperson, told Reuters.