• Government commits to continuous dialogue with inter-faith organisations to ensure equal respect and protection for believers, non-believers, and various religious denominations.
  • Deputy President Paul Mashatile lauds interfaith leaders as societal influencers, highlighting their role in fostering unity and kindness within communities.
  • Emphasising progress since apartheid, Mashatile underscores the importance of upholding the rights of all individuals, regardless of religious beliefs, and acknowledges strides in social issues like education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation.

Government is committed to engaging in continuous dialogue with inter-faith organisations on any issue affecting society, as it strives to provide equal respect and protection to both believers and non-believers, as well as to different religious denominations.

“As interfaith leaders, you represent the starting point from which acts of kindness and generosity should originate. I greatly esteem you as the leaders of our society, as you are the individuals who regularly interact with communities on a daily basis,” Deputy President Paul Mashatile said on Friday.

He was speaking at an engagement between inter-faith leaders and government in Cape Town.

The Deputy President said through weaving together the threads of different faiths and the tireless work of numerous organisations, the dark cloud of apartheid was finally vanquished, paving the way for a freedom that the country cherishes.

“It is important to always maintain a sense of gratitude for the achievements we have made and not let the pessimistic voices that solely focus on the negative aspects overshadow our progress.

“We built our progress on the unity of diverse faiths, treating every religion with equal respect. In stark contrast, the apartheid era unfairly elevated Christianity as the sole faith, causing division among South Africans.

“Today, it is truly remarkable to see people from diverse backgrounds joining forces to achieve great things, overcoming obstacles, and fostering unity for the betterment of our communities,” the Deputy President said.

Mashatile said government is committed to upholding the rights of all individuals, regardless of their beliefs or religious affiliations.

“We strive to provide equal respect and protection to both believers and non-believers, as well as to different religious denominations. Equally, our commitment to addressing social issues has been unwavering. Over the past 30 years, we have made remarkable strides in enhancing the well-being of South Africans.

“We have transitioned from an authoritarian state apparatus that overlooked the lives and living conditions of millions of our citizens to a democratic nation that guarantees equal protection for every individual,” Mashatile said.

He said a significant number of South Africans, especially those who are less fortunate, now have the opportunity to access education, healthcare and basic services.

“More than ever before, millions of our citizens are shielded from abject poverty by means of among others the redistribution policies that represent progress, such as the Land Reform Programme.

“Today, our churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples serve as cornerstones of society, providing vital education, feeding the poor and needy, and speaking out against injustices in our nation with a consistent and strong approach,” the Deputy President said.

Mashatile commended the work that the inter-faith communities in the Western Cape have done.

“I also appreciate the Western Cape inter-faith leaders for uniting most of these diverse religions and denominations under one umbrella body. We have a shared responsibility to bring all religions together in our efforts to promote national unity and social cohesion.

“This is a task that I began while serving as Minister of Arts and Culture, and it remains important to me even today.

“South Africa, with its widely diversified community, has encountered enormous obstacles to social cohesion and togetherness,” he said. –

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