Deputy President Paul Mashatile has encouraged the church to help government to tackle societal challenges.
“We strongly encourage the church, in its capacity as a moral and social leader, to engage in a collaborative effort with us to effectively tackle any societal difficulties. The government relies on you as the religious sector to point out mistakes in a constructive manner and recommend solutions,” the Deputy President said on Sunday.
The second in command was addressing the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ (TACC) International Thanksgiving Day celebrations held at the Absa Stadium in East London, in the Eastern Cape.
“There is an open-door policy in my office, so you can come in whenever you want to talk about the problems you are having and how to fix them,” he said adding that despite the challenges South Africa faces, the country has much to be grateful for.
He included gender-based violence as some of the challenges facing South Africa.
“We need you to be part of our initiatives to fight gender-based violence in our society and promote equality. We need you to be the voice of women and children who are abused. We need you to be the refuge and defender of women's and children’s rights.
“We must speak against sexual violence and rape of young children and women. We must not be silent when we witness acts of abuse or rape against women and children by our brethren or family members.”
He also reflected on the role played by the church in the fight against apartheid.
“We have achieved democratic freedom, which entails the freedom to practice any religion without fear of persecution among others. Collectively, we can agree that South Africa is a better place than it was three decades ago.
“Despite the significant progress our great nation has undeniably made over the years, it is of utmost importance to conscientiously acknowledge that we have not yet fully attained our desired goal, including complete economic freedom for our people.”
He said that government together with the church, wants to establish an atmosphere favourable for growth and development.
“It is widely acknowledged that social cohesion is a fundamental element of each society, necessitating the active participation of every member in the joint goal of establishing a cohesive community.
“We must steadfastly persevere in our collective efforts to promote a spirit of inclusivity amongst all individuals, regardless of the diverse tapestry of our racial, religious, or cultural origins, for in the divine gaze of the Almighty, we are all the same.”
Mashatile said without the cooperation of interfaith leaders, “I will not be able to successfully carry out my assigned role of promoting social cohesion”.
“As a government, we need interfaith and traditional leaders to strengthen relationships and the sense of solidarity among community members,” he said. -SAnews.gov.za