Re­li­gious sec­tor puts pres­sure on pres­i­dent

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO

MORE than 18 mil­lion con­gre­gants want Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to de­clare the re­li­gious sec­tor an es­sen­tial ser­vice as pres­sure mounts on the gov­ern­ment to re­open in­dus­tries amid the coro­n­avirus out­break.

On Wed­nes­day evening, Pas­tor At Boshoff from the 92-branch strong Chris­tian Re­vival Church (CRC) was part of more than 10 del­e­ga­tions which met Ramaphosa in a bid to per­suade him to deem the re­li­gious sec­tor an es­sen­tial ser­vice.

This as the gov­ern­ment be­gins to open up the coun­try fol­low­ing the twom­onth lock­down to stem the spread of

Covid-19. Yes­ter­day, Boshoff con­firmed the meet­ing with the pres­i­dent, say­ing they were not lob­by­ing against the gov­ern­ment, but rather to en­able churches to play their sup­port­ive role in so­ci­ety.

Boshoff said he had a man­date from

CRC, the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Chris­tian Churches as well as speak­ing on be­half of charis­matic churches, al­to­gether rep­re­sent­ing more than 18 mil­lion peo­ple.

In a sum­mary of Boshoff’s pre­sen­ta­tion to the pres­i­dent given to The Star, the churches ad­vo­cated for no gath­er­ings in level 5 and level 4 of the lock­down, with small prayer meet­ings of about 10 peo­ple from level 3.

“The church is the most un­der­utilised as­set the gov­ern­ment has – we stand ready and avail­able to serve our coun­try and re­pair the dev­as­tat­ing dam­age and fear this virus has al­ready caused among our pop­u­la­tion.”

Boshoff said this would in­clude the util­i­sa­tion of churches to dis­trib­ute food and other crit­i­cal prod­ucts, as well as of­fer shel­ter if needed, which they could not do cur­rently as they’re not deemed es­sen­tial.

His views were echoed by Faisal Suli­man, pres­i­dent of the SA Mus­lim Net­work, who yes­ter­day said: “We un­der­stand that we need to pro­tect cit­i­zens from the virus. But the gov­ern­ment needs to bal­ance the need to pro­tect health with re­li­gious free­doms.”

The Mus­lim Ju­di­cial Coun­cil also met Ramaphosa on Wed­nes­day.

Yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dency spokesper­son Khusela Diko said: “The pres­i­dent is con­sid­er­ing all pro­pos­als made to him dur­ing con­sul­ta­tions with var­i­ous sec­tors of so­ci­ety. The gov­ern­ment will an­nounce its de­ci­sions in due course.”

PRES­I­DENT Cyril Ramaphosa

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