The South African Muslim Network (Samnet) hosted Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday to engage Durban’s community leaders and activists in Durban in the organisations continued strategy.

The meeting was held at the Mansfield Hall, DUT Campus, and was attended people from various denominations, including businessmen, professionals, members of NGOs, civil society, clergy, trade unionists and students. In his address,

Ramaphosa covered local and international issues. He acknowledged the sterling work done by faith-based communities in social welfare and joked about his experiences while fasting in Ramadaan. Samnet chairperson Dr Faisal Suliman, in his introduction spoke about a need for a leadership that put the interests of South Africans first, a leadership that embraces civil society and the need for civil society organisations. He spoke on Chapter 9 institutions as an intricate part of a functioning democracy to ensure a system
of checks and balances.

He highlighted the need for the Muslim community and all South Africans to give back to the country, paraphrasing John F Kennedy’s famous words, not what the country could do for the leadership but what the leadership could do for the country. Suliman emphasised that South African’s need a leader who would inspire all South Africans to want to give back, put their shoulder to the wheel and get the country out of the malaise and rot that has infected the national psyche. He went on to express the need for the sharing of resources and skills to ensure that all South Africans benefitted from the democratic dividend.

He said that there is a need for the ANC to go back to the principles and fundamentals of the organisation and to the fundamentals of J L Dube, A J Luthuli and OR Tambo. He expressed that the country neededan ANC that could hold the centre of the body politic of South Africa and carry this country forward, an ANC that could rid itself of the corruption and nepotism that has become so pervasive.

He also spoke about the Muslim community’s concerns about the war on terror being brought to the shores of South Africa, about the possibility of false flag operations in South Africa to put Muslims in the same category as had happened in the USA and Europe. He mentioned the need for security agencies to
be vigilant and ensure that the type of bombings and attacks on civilians as has happened in Europe and America does not occur in South Africa. The deputy president fielded questions about the statement made recently about removing the BEE status of Indians. He answered that as per the principles of the
ANC, all previously disadvantaged people in South Africa were considered “black”.

In response to a question on whether he would consider shutting down the Israeli Embassy, Ramaphosa said that that was a matter of statecraft and the general principle of the ANC relating to the Palestine struggle would remain under his leadership and that he was acutely aware of the relationship between the anti-Apartheid struggle and the liberation struggle from Israeli occupation. He spoke extensively of the need
to resurrect the country’s economy and the need for empowerment and incubation efforts to ensure that the black majority who were extremely and systematically disempowered during apartheid were brought into the economic fold with urgency.

In his closing remarks Suliman urged faith-based groups and civil society formations to reclaim the spaces they had crucially occupied during the apartheid era but neglected since 1994. He appealed to the thought leaders in the audience to lobby their constituencies to give back to society and help to build the South Africa many would like to see.