As Muslims within the Cape continue to voice concerns about marginalization, one party vows to speak exclusively to the needs of the Muslim community. The Cape Muslim Congress (CMC), which was established in 2006 and holds one seat in the City of Cape Town, says that if it win more seats it will focus on the political, social, cultural problems of the Cape Muslims, “and then other people.”
Speaking to VOC as part of a weekly focus on the parties contesting the Local Government Elections, party leader councillor Yahyah Adams explained that the party’s aim is to develop a politically important, socially stable, culturally effective and economically successful Cape Muslim community by influencing the political process for the benefit of the Muslims.
“It’s not that we are not interested in the rest of the country, [but] the problem with our community is that we like to talk about a lot of things – we are not focussed on how we can deal with our own problems.”
He said the party endeavours to work toward improving local Muslim skills, particularly in the fields of economics, culture, and politics.
Who is the Cape Muslim Congress?
The party is supported by various prominent local religious leaders, including; Imam Moutie Saban, Moulana Ihsan Fortune, Shaykh Rashaad Alexander, Shaykh Mohammad Adams, and Imam Ebrahim Clayton.
“No other political party has the support of so many ulama, imams, and shuyukh,” Adams said.
‘What do we do?’
In addition to holding a seat in the City of Cape Town since 2011, Adams said that the party has worked toward protecting the rights of Muslims within the Cape.
He further noted that the party has spoken out against corruption both within the City of Cape Town and nationally and says that the party wants to clamp down on the “stupid” individuals who hold influential positions.
“People are in serious position, and earn millions of rands a year, but they make very stupid mistakes,” he continued.
He said that the CMC has exposed and openly questioned the City of Cape Town’s use of R500 million on the maintenance of the Cape Town Stadium, as well as the initial R4.5 billion construction costs.
Adams added that the country has splurged R50 billion on ten stadiums countrywide, which he asserts has proven to be unsustainable.
“They built stadiums that are costing us hundreds of millions of rands, and now they don’t know what to do with them.”
Adams explained that the party works toward protecting Muslims against discrimination and endeavours to improve cultural understanding. The CMC, he says will also lobby against any practices that discriminate against Muslims.
He said that party will increase the number of Muslims within the decision making ranks in the province as currently no Muslim individuals are visible within the process.
Since employment equity within the country results in 80 per cent of jobs being given to black individuals, coloured individuals as a result will be disadvantaged.
“Most of the top jobs are held by white males. The shift will change from white males to black males – where must Muslims get jobs in our city where we have been for almost 400 years.”
Adams, who sits on the Finance Portfolio Committee, says that the CMC will prohibit the use of tax for international trips made by politicians.
“They say that they are going on a study trip or research but they are actually going on holiday. In the 2015 municipal audits, R15.5 billion rand was unaccounted for, the auditor general then indicated that he found receipts for R10 billion, but no one is accounting for the R5.5 billion.”
While he estimates that the Democratic Alliance will spend R30 million and the African National Congress R40 million on the local municipal elections, he says that citizens need to question the source of the money.
“Since its origin, the CMC has not been funded by anyone. I take 20 per cent of my salary to fund Islamic institutions, functions and activities and CMC receives regular food parcels from a family, which the party distributes. The CMC has distributed, in our personal capacity, R500 000 worth of aid over the past five years.”
‘Why we need your vote’
While the CMC requires between 50 000 and 100 000 votes from Cape Muslims to secure up to ten seats in the City, Adams says that a victory for the CMC is vital for the progress of the Muslim party, since the party will work toward eradicating corruption.
“Most municipalities are unable to achieve clean audits because of corruption and stupidity. [Allegedly] the vast majority of municipalities do not have qualified accountants – it looks like they just take anyone to do the job,” Adams asserts.
He says that while other Muslim parties speak to the problems of the world, the CMC prioritizes the problems faced by Muslims within the Cape.
“We need to stop talking about what’s happening in the rest of the world, and rather talk about what’s happening in Manenberg, Mitchells Plain, Lavender Hill, and in Bo-Kaap – the CMC is focussed on local issues for our people.”
Adams further noted that by voting for the CMC, Muslim institutions will gain access to free services, including free; legal advice, accounting services, plumbing services, water proofing, and burial services.
“So many people in our community are unable to pay their burials, in the past we have sponsored the burials, and if we win we will step that up.”
He added that the CMC will work toward making rates and taxes affordable for the masses.
“The reason why everything is increasing in the city is due to the debt of the stadium, which is approximately R50 million a year. Until the stadium becomes self-sustainable, the rate payers are paying the debt.”
In addition, Adams explains that the party will develop business parks within various areas for the use of the residents, which will include workshops for welders and backyard mechanics.
“We need to connect the youth with people who have the skills; if the CMC is given the required votes, we will employ those people to transfer those skills.”
In response to the level of drug abuse and crime within the Cape Flats, Adams says that the party will deploy metro police to monitor, search, and report on every person who enters the premises of every drug dealer.
He added that the CMC will work with the South African Revenue Services to conduct audits on every individual whose income appears suspicious.
“You can’t be selling fruit and driving three Mercedes of a million rand each.”
“With one councillor, the CMC has delivered – imagine what we will do with ten!” Adams concluded.