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“We would like Al Jama-ah keeping a close eye on the Department of International Relations and Cooperations (DIRCO)”

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By Kouthar Sambo

Various political parties have reached a consensus to form part of the Government of National Unity (GNU). This comes after two weeks of intense engagements with 18 parties that have seats in the National Assembly. Further to this Ganief Hendricks, the founder and leader of Al Jama-ah, the only Muslim political party to join the GNU, confirmed the party would be forming part of the GNU.

Al Jama-ah’s stance on the GNU

“Al Jama-ah has joined the political assembly, which will kick off with the formation of a GNU. We are concerned the DA will mislead the political assembly and national parliament, moving forward,” said Hendricks.

“Al Jama-ah changed its position on the GNU because the rules of engagement at the time had changed. For instance, it is not a coalition agreement between the ANC and the DA as the DA is not the founding member,” stressed Hendricks.

According to Hendricks, the founding members are the Patriotic Alliance (PA), following the joining of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), following the DA then signing the agreement between themselves and the ANC.

“The DA was so naive in thinking other parties are not included while the ANC on the sideline was sharing the same agreement with 16 other political parties, asking them to sign the agreement,” added Hendricks.

Al Jama-ah’s challenges – the hard work begins

Meanwhile, speaking on VOC’s PM Drive show on Monday, a political analyst from the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) Faisel Suleman, said the test for Al Jama-ah would be “to speak out on the real issues since it is time for the party to mature.”

“The word unity is overstated because I do not know whether there will be unity or not. People were upset with Al Jama-ah because they are almost seen as a rubber stamp for the ANC while being critical of the DA, as far as foreign policy is concerned, along with the DA’s stance on Palestine,” explained Suleman.

I do not think Al Jama-ah can demand a ministerial position, remarked Suleman, nor a deputy minister position unless it falls within sport.

“Al Jama-ah’s two seats are not needed as the original four seats were good enough to constitute 60% of those who voted the big guys out,” declared Suleman.

While there are critics saying Al Jama-ah is getting into bed with the same DA it is critical of, Suleman believes the move is understandable, given the current political sphere.

He added that what Al Jama-ah does within its position and how much power the party has to speak out, will demonstrate volumes of the party moving forward.

“From SAMENT’s perspective, we would like Al Jama-ah to keep a close eye on the Department of International Relations and Cooperations (DIRCO) – because I think those are the places the DA would like to infiltrate, along with its backers overseas and locally (I think you know what I mean),” Suleman expressed.

He further emphasised the importance of the party’s growth thus far, citing the time for maturing is now.

“The learning curve has passed after Al Jama-ah went through parliament. The one thing parties like Al Jama-ah must learn, is to understand broader building capacity within the Muslim community.”

“Al Jama-ah’s real test is to address the inner political issues that lie within the Muslim community as opposed to getting lured into the politics of parliament. There should also be plans to empower future leaders within Al Jama-ah who will eventually take Ganief Hendricks’ place,” reiterated Suleman.

*This is still a developing story

Photo: @ParliamentofRSA/X

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