While the anti-Jacob Zuma rhetoric grows in South Africa, many Muslims who ideologically support the ANC and the struggle for freedom have to confront tough questions about how they view the party and its imcumbent president. In the midst of the mass Zuma Must Fall campaign, the ANC leader finds himself at the centre of a nationwide debate over whether he should be recalled as the country’s president, following a string of political scandals which has tainted his entire presidency.
On Wednesday, more than 6,000 people in several cities made their voices heard, calling for Zuma to step aside. The movement gained ground after Zuma axed Nene, replacing him with little known Member of Parliament David van Rooyen. Four days after appointing van Rooyen, however, the president redeployed him to as Minister of Cooperative Governance, reappointing Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.
Marches in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town were organised by Unite Against Corruption and supported by a coalition of interfaith and civil society organisations.
Marches by striking workers and protests by poor communities against a lack of basic services have been common in South Africa for many decades but in recent months there has been a marked rise in large protests against corruption and the current government.
Missing from these marches were thousands of Muslims who over the past year participated in their thousands on issues concerning Palestine, Yemen, Syria and Egypt.
Last Friday, the Claremont Main Road mosque hosted anti-apartheid activist Barbara Hogan who spoke out against corruption and the country’s current leadership in the Friday sermon. The mosque’s imam Dr Rashied Omar says that Muslims have the power to bring about social change.
“The Almighty has proclaimed in a hadith that he will not change the condition of people as long as they do not change themselves,” said Omar.
The mosque has been vocal in its sermons against corruption and the ills in society. But Omar believes only so much can be done from the mimbar and it’s through public discouse and mobilisation that a real difference can be made.
Omar added that people of faith and especially Muslims should actively engage in society by belonging to organisations to release power from the top so that it may be distributed to the community.
Dr Faisel Suliman from the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) says that the failure of leadership in the ANC has been worrying, but he doesn’t know what will replace the leadership if the ANC was to be taken out of that role.
“We are cautious about the policies of other parties so we would be very cautious at this stage to say that the ANC should be replaced,” Dr Suliman went further.
However, Omar added that Muslims should support all progressive campaigns when referring to the Zuma Must Fall movement.
“Unfortunately our president is not the best moral example. There is deep disappointment with regards to his behaviour and policy so I think we should support the campaign asking our president to step down, but our activism should not be limited to that,” Omar continued.
“We are facing a difficult time and people should be astute when exercising their right to vote in the 2016 local government elections.” VOC