Interfaith forum commits to educating voters ahead of election

From left are Archbishop Thami Ngcana (Council of African Independent Churches), Pundit Ashwin Trikamjee (South African Hindu Maha Sabha), Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams (Muslim Judicial Council), Pastor Thetha Ngiba (Nazareth Baptist Church), Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (Union of Orthodox Synagogue), Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana (Chairman of TIFSA) and Moulana Ebrahim Bham (Council of Muslim Theologians).

The Interfaith Forum of South Africa (TIFSA) will hold a three-day conference next month to bring together religious representatives from all walks of life to discuss the challenges facing South Africa and how to address them.

The conference will take place from Monday to Wednesday October 9 to 11.

The forum, represented by various faith traditions and communities in South Africa, met at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront recently to “address the country’s social and moral crisis”, brought on by, among others, poverty, corruption, crime, inequality, and the highest rate of unemployment.

Members said they were calling on all South Africans to come together to “realise the full potential of the nation”, and that they as leaders should affirm their responsibility to uphold the moral fabric of the country.

“We call on every South African to stand up against corruption and the peril faced by whistle blowers, express disappointment at the slow pace of bringing those fingered by the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, and call on the government to expedite the delivery of the specific findings and recommendations of the commission,“ said forum chairman Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

He added that the forum would also be embarking on a nationwide voter education campaign ahead of next year’s election because they believe that the solutions to South Africa’s challenges lie with its citizens.

“As communities, we have what it takes within us to work together to reconfigure the trajectory of our nation. Let us come together to craft the path from a divided and racially and ethnically polarised past to one South Africa for a dignified and secure living.”

Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of The Union of Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa, said the Interfaith Forum could be an example to religious communities throughout the world.

“We spent hours together in deliberations for the good of our country, recognising the common vision that we share and not focusing on our differences, because there is so much work to be done to build the greater world,” he said.

Rabbi Goldstein added that the fact that the meeting was held at the gateway to Robben Island was important, because Robben Island represented hope to South Africans.

“On Robben Island there were people who gave up their lives to help others and to build a greater society,” he said. “If we are to rekindle the great South African dream, we need to do that … with leaders who will do it for the sake of the people and society.

“Corruption is when leaders forget why they are in positions of power; they here to serve, not to take. This forum calls on urgent action from the government to ensure that all of the recommendations and all the people who have been implicated in Zondo Commission are brought to book,” Rabbi Goldstein noted.

The interfaith forum comprises representatives of the Muslim Judicial Council, South African Hindu Maha Sabha, Office of the Chief Rabbi, Council of Muslim Theologians, Nazareth Baptist Church, South African Council of Church, Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, Council of African Independent Churches, and International Fellowship of Christian Churches.