1 July 2021Joint StatementIssued by the SACC for the Religious Forum Against COVID-19
The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 stands in solidarity as faith leaders in response to the urgent matter of COVID-19 infections, as part of the broader objective of collaborating in making for a safer South African environment. Our country, together with the global community has been at war with this pandemic for the past 16 months and is currently in the midst of the third wave. It is time for us all to pull together in unity once more and act to protect and save lives in the war against COVID-19.The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 is made up of different religiousorganisations and faith traditions that have all been working independently to address the ravages of COVID-19 in the country and within their faith communities.
The leaderships of these religious communities have now partnered together, to pool their influence and resources to fight the Coronavirus as a collective. Speaking on behalf of the Religious Forum Against COVID-19, Professor Brij Maharaj of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS) emphasised the need for active leadership from religious organisations: “The voices of religious leaders should be more vocal on this issue. If religion cannot contribute to the greater good of humanity, then is it fulfilling its duty to humanity?” This sentiment was echoed byMaulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, Deputy President of the Muslim Judicial Council, said, “The leaders of our faiths must work together in joint messaging to help reduce infection amongst our people and save lives!”Numerous challenges face the country, the greatest of which is the alarming rate of infections as has been witnessed over the last few weeks, with Gauteng emerging as the epicentre of infections. Secondary to this is the numerous delays, both within and outside of the Government’s control, that has limited the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccine has been rolled out. The interfaith religious leaders are, therefore, issuing a strong call-to-action for increased social solidarity and the promotion of the value of mutual care that must be considered in all homes in order to curb large family and community festivities. “There must also be a re-affirmed adjustment to all faith practises by all faith-based organisations, which we have had to endure in the fight against the pandemic,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC. This responsibility extends to how best the religious leaders can encourage their communities to sustain the micro-actions of COVID-19 compliance in their everyday living, as a matter of course. “As a country, there is no room to let our guard (and masks) down. We must continue to look after ourselves and our loved ones by observing all the protocols as outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his national address on 15 June 2021, where he announced the move to Level 3 lockdown,” he added. This sentiment was supported by Moulana Ebrahim Bham, Secretary-General, Council of Muslim Theologians, who added: “At this stage, the reality is in front of all of us.
Let us put our debates aside and do the needful. People are gravely ill and we are losing our loved ones. We have to take all available and appropriate measures in protecting everyone, with the help of the Almighty.”The Government will continue rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, even despite the challenges that have been experienced, however, there is still a level of resistance that South Africans have towards the vaccine. However, the myriad of untruths about the Coronavirus vaccine that emerged at the beginning of the year has, by now hopefully been set aside by the over one million South Africans, and countless others around the world who have received the vaccine and who remain in good health. This is further evidenced by the public vaccination of many religious leaders, as an example of the safety and efficacy of the Coronavirus vaccine.
Faith leaders categorically endorse all scientifically tested and approved Coronavirus vaccines that will heal the afflicted and save lives. They further commit to using their platforms to help bridge the information gap, especially in poorer rural communities as there is a need to increase the rate at which South Africans are registering to receive the vaccine. To this end, the Religious Forum Against COVID-19 calls on faith-based organisations to use their infrastructure and member databases to ensure that the elderly in their spaces are assisted with registration for the vaccination. This should extend to the use of religious buildings as vaccination sites. “If our elders do not vaccinate they remain the most vulnerable.
We call on all South Africans to help senior citizens register for the vaccine. Together we can help our elders live beyond the pandemic,” said Bishop Mpumlwana. This commitment is not just made towards the elderly, who face various challenges to registration such as access to technology, mobility based on physical ailments, as well as access to registration and vaccination centres. The work of the Religious Forum Against COVID-19 will endeavour to motivate citizens to register as per the National Department of Health vaccine roll-out strategy, up to the point that the country reaches population immunity. The onus is, therefore, on all South Africans to register themselves and support the registration of all senior citizens. “No one in South Africa will be safe until we have all been vaccinated and reach population immunity,” said Pastor Giet Khosa of Rhema Family of Churches. “Together, in unity, we can defeat COVID-19 through our individual efforts at staying safe and getting vaccinated,” he concluded.
Together we can all live beyond the pandemic.This is everyone’s war to fight and win.
To access the recording of the meeting, please visit the SACC Facebook page
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSACC/videos/859569217984685Topic: Religious Forum Against COVID-19 Round Table WebinarHost: South African Council of ChurchesDate: Jul 1, 2021, 09:56 AM JohannesburgEditor’s Notes:
Interfaith Leaders represented include:• The Muslim Judicial Council• The South African Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS)• Union of Orthodox Synagogues• The Council of Muslim Theologians (Jimiatul Ulama South African)• Council of Muslim Theologians (Jamiatul Ulama)• The South African Council of Church (SACC)• The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA)• Believers in Christ• Council of African Independent Churches (CAIC)• International Federation of Christian Churches• Nazareth Baptist Church (Shembe, Thembezinhle)• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Media enquiries:Khuthalani KhumaloSACC Communications ConsultantSouth African Council of ChurchesTel: 084 074 1285 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org