SPEECH BY MINISTER RADEBE ON THE OCCASION OF THE JUMUAH LECTURE AT RASOOLI COMMUNITY CENTRE
Allow me to express my sincere gratitude to brother Adil Nchabaleng, Shaikh Fadlalah and the leadership of the Rasooli Centre for inviting and allowing me to join you here today on the auspicious occasion of Jumuah.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!
God bless Africa!”
Indeed the Muslim community played a pivotal role, and in doing so helped to shape our post 1994 democratic dispensation. The high level of tolerance we have today was leveraged in the trenches of political struggle when together we fought against racial discrimination. Of course from time to time, racial and other forms of intolerance will rear their ugly heads hence we must continue on the journey of nation building to ensure a socially cohesive society that is true to the noble ideals enshrined in our Constitution.
When I see so many Muslims here today, I see the rainbow nation, the strength we have in our diversity and the respect for each other’s cultures and the constitutional promise of equality and the dignity of all our people.
South Africa’s constitution provides the space for all religions to flourish and most definitely Muslims have an important role in public life.
Our South African leadership, especially our ANC leadership, knows fully well the often ignored history of struggle and of slavery of many early Muslims in South Africa.
It must be commended that even through the most extreme and testing times the generations before you held strong and despite the most extreme difficulties mosques were built, centers were established and Muslims fought for their right to practise Islam.
Many of those whose families were transported here many years ago from India or Indonesia now proudly, together with others across our country, identify as South Africans – and many of them are our most honoured citizens, our struggle heroes and our current leaders.
They have, and many of you have, taken up an extremely important role in our nation building. As the years past, as the Apartheid government crumbled, as the majority challenged the common oppressor our people united in our diversity, the diversity which we must protect and build today.
I am confident that it needs not be said, but we assure the Muslim community that we from the ANC and in government will always respect, protect and advance the rights and practices of the Muslim community. In drafting the constitution of South Africa, our leadership alongside the late iconic founding President of our democratic State, President Nelson Mandela, knew that fundamental to any constitution is the importance of freedom and protection of religious rights and practice.
Since 1994 Muslims have been in our cabinet, parliament, local metros, Municipality councils and at virtually all levels of Government. I am proud to serve in the leadership of the ANC and in Government with the likes of ANC Ministers and Deputy Ministers that come from the Muslim faith including Ebrahim Patel, Naledi Pandor, Enver Surty, Fatima Chohan and several others at various levels including Mayors like, Mpho Khunou, Afzul Rahman, amongst others.
As the ANC and Government we appreciate the value of prayer for muslims and we ensure that appropriate land is allocated to the building of mosques and incorporating muslim prayer rooms in certain public spaces including our airports. We have also made sure, through the Department Of Basic Education, to facilitate the teaching at muslim schools. In addition, a recent example, is the approximately 130 Imams around the country who have been certified as Marriage Officers by the Department of Home Affairs through a program aimed at popularising certification among Imams who conduct Nikkahs or Islamic marriages
We note the contribution and participation of the Muslim community in our struggle against Apartheid – whether it was through the leadership of icons such as Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Ahmed Kathrada and Imam Haroon or through the involvement of activists and community members in organisations such as the Islamic Medical Association, Muslim Youth Movement or The Call of Islam and other such groups which played and continue to play an important role.
The ANC leadership has continued and will continue to work closely with the Muslim community and its representatives. My presence here is both a show of my respect and appreciation and that of the African National Congress. The ANC is clear in our appreciation, recently our Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa joined the Muslim community of Pretoria for Eid celebrations and last week President Jacob Zuma met with the Muslim Judicial Council in Cape Town. The ANC recognizes and is proud of the contributions made by our first Chief Justice of SA Justice Ismail Mohamed, our Minister for Justice and my predecessor Dullar Omar as well as many others.
We also acknowledge the contribution today of the Muslim community, drawing from the traditions and ethos of the Islamic faith, in building a non-racial and democratic society. We not only recognize the contribution in Government but also beyond in areas of entertainment, sports, business, charity, social development, culture and almost all other sectors. Some notable national organizations like SANZAF, Gift of the Givers, Awqaf and individuals including Riaad Moosa, Hasim Amla, Dr Ridwaan Mia and many others who are involved in Nation Building. We appreciate all these efforts and see the Muslim community as a positive force to build a better South Africa.
As the ANC Government we assure you, as we have shown in the past that we will be at your side shoulder to shoulder, in local battles as well as international issues that affect the vital interests of this community and our country. We will continue to defend the community against racists who try to prevent muslim worship, we will prosecute those that commit hate crimes against muslims, we will continue to fight Islamaphobia where it may occur. We also reject with contempt attempts to demonize and label Islam as an extremist and terrorist religion – we know that Islam is a religion of peace and justice.
I will not abuse this platform by asking for your votes, but rather make note of some of our many achievements in government and of our ongoing mutual relationship.
The ANC-led government, in the last 20 years, has rolled out one of the largest housing projects in the world. We have built close to 4 million free houses that service 12 million people. We feed 10 million school children ever school day. The percentage of households that are today connected to electricity supply increased from 69.7% in 2001 to 86% in 2014. This amounted to over 5,8 million households in 2014 and figures show that 2,048,052 households benefited from indigent support systems for electricity in 2014.
The ANC, being a peoples movement, unashamedly has a bias towards the poor but the upliftment of the poor is also, as many of you will agree, an upliftment of us all. Creating a better, stronger, more peaceful and prosperous South Africa.
The muslim community perhaps more than any other relative to its size is well aware and active in the work of upliftment and civic involvement. We urge all of you to go out on the 3rd of August and participate in our democracy by voting. So that we can continue to build an even more prosperous and thriving society for all.