Aljama has become the first political party to announce a list of its frontrunners and candidates for the forthcoming national and provincial elections expected to take place in May 2009.
The new Muslim political party first announced and registered its intention to contest as a voice for the people in the Government Gazette on Friday January 23 last year. Aljama is set to add a new dimension to the changing political landscape, especially in the Western Cape and KZN. Aljama will draw its supporters largely from the Muslim community which forms up to 20% of the vote in the Western Cape and KZN and 3% in the country, but feels its policies which are based on the Shariah of Islam and manifesto pledge will appeal to voters of all creeds. It sees itself as a partner in a three (3) party state that will emerge in 2009 or soon thereafter.
Ganief Hendricks, a leadership icon in the Muslim community, is the Party Leader and will take up the challenge for Presidency of the country. Hendricks is a founder member of the influential Muslim Students Association of South Africa and the Islamic Council of South Africa. He also fulfilled a senior position in the Islamic Unity Convention as well as on the Muslim parliament in the Western Cape (Majlisush Shura) for 22 years – a consultative(Shura) body that was formed by the Muslim Judicial Council(MJC) in the seventies. He has made several submissions and oral presentations to parliament and ICASA on behalf of Aljama, a community radio station, the IUC and an African Publishing House since 1994. He is also a founder member of the Multi Party Forum (MPF) consisting of 14 political parties including all the major political parties investigating electoral reform and changes to electoral law to ensure free and fair elections. He has been selected as a nominee to head up the monitoring of elections in the provinces on behalf of the MPF. Hendricks recently presented a paper on ‘Equality” at an Equality international conference hosted by the German funded Konrad Adenaer Foundation.
Hendricks is also well known for hosting the Community Radio station programme “Labour Law for All”. His success on the show is due to his expertise in Human Resources. He received an award in 2002 as an ”internet pioneer” by the Nasper’s owned Mweb Holdings. He is also a Director of an African Publishing House and the general secretary of a trade union in the disability, contract cleaning and farming sector.
Hendricks comments: “For the first time in South African history the notion is real that anyone’s dream of becoming the president, with the right support, can be realised, as it has been realised in America. South Africa has dramatically moved away from a One Party State”.
The candidate for Premier of the Western Cape is Fayruze Tape of Rondebosh East in Cape Town. Fayruze is the livewire of “Exposure”, well known for its breakfast training events held to empower women in business. She is also a mover and shaker amongst the women in her community and is involved in almost every cultural and community event associated with several women bodies.
The decision to appoint a woman, who is seen as “a new kid on the block”, as Premier is bound to spur much debate amongst Cape Town’s Sheikh’s and the largely patriarchal male dominated Muslim community: Aljama has not overlooked this, but is confident about the appointment, as Fayruze Tape is well known for her community service and will be ably assisted by some of the most qualified, influential and experienced advisors Cape Town has to offer. “She has made a mark in her field and she should adopt this new role quite comfortably. How will women take up political roles if one does not catapult those deserving ones, such as Fayruze into positions of influence? ” Hendricks has said.
In a major scoop, the Party has recruited Bienie Alexander as its Party Leader for the Western Cape. He will not only target 250 000 Muslim voters, but an equal number of soccer players and soccer supporters of other faiths too. Mr Alexander is a veteran SAFA soccer administrator tasked with filling soccer stadiums for major tournaments. He was a member of the local 2010 technical committee in addition to his role as a civic leader in Athlone, which is the constituency that he heads up for Aljama. Bienie holds the number One (1) position on the Western Cape Party list.
To attract the vote of the Youth, and much to the amazement and satisfaction of the public and Aljama’s supporters, Aljama has appointed Faizal Sayed as National Director of Communications. They have also added matriculants and other young people to its Party lists, both provincially and nationally. Faizal is a popular young TV host and the producer of a national TV station. He is seen as a “Bollywood star” in the eyes of those who know and admire his work. Sayed holds a degree in media studies.
An announcement will be made at a later date on the names of the other provincial Party Leaders but Aljama is targeting 500 000 voters in and around South African provinces.
These early announcements will give the Party an early kick-start in contesting in the 2009 provincial and National elections according to the Aljama Director of Communications Faizal Sayed. No other Party has suggested the possibility of announcing its frontrunners as yet. This is the payoff of months of hard work behind the scenes by the National Working Committee of Aljama and their constituency leaders.
Tape’s first official duty after being appointed as Premier, was the announcement that Aljama will also contest in the by-election in Ward 45. This ward consists of Manenberg and Gugulethu. Yusuf Christian, warmly referred to as Boeta “U” by all who know him, will be this ward’s candidate for the by-election to take place on 10 December 2008. Christian is another well known resident and community events organiser in Manenberg. In addition, he serves as President of the Soccer Federation in Manenberg. Under his amazing supervision, the Aljama Manenberg under eighteen squad did exceptionally well in a national youth soccer tournament, beating top clubs from Soweto and Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Registered members of Aljama in Manenberg are not only Muslim, but from many other faiths, yet are all comfortable being represented on its executive committee.
Aljama’s aspirant politicians are taking part in a political and leadership programme which was launched by Aljama and is run by Professor Rajah Kanes of Greenwich University in London. Kanes uses Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and new generation creativity training to produce 21st century leaders.
One of the aspects underpinning Aljama’s campaign will be fast tracking women’s empowerment in the workplace. Another is full company benefits in sheltered employment for the physically and mentally disabled. Party Leader Ganief Hendricks, in his capacity as general secretary of their trade union W.A.R. (Workers against Regression) secured a provident fund for them on 13 November after a six (6) year fight in an agreement brokered at the CCMA. Human resource development and a bigger role for young people in politics is another focus.
It is in the area of Labour Rights that Aljama will make its mark. It will fight in parliament to improve income levels. As a first step it will argue that bargaining councils set a minimum wage of R4000 p.m. and a working week of 37.5 hours – a benefit previously enjoyed by office staff and whites in the days of apartheid but that will now boost employment levels. Hendricks stated that if he is appointed Minister of Labour he will not sign any wage determination of a bargaining Council like the clothing industry if these conditions are not met. But workers will have to make up for these extra costs by higher productivity and reduction of waste and other costs and employers must purchase more efficient production facilities. Best practices must be employed. The Party also intends to call for reparations to fund poverty elimination programmes for the poor and has a position that no family or Business in South Africa enriched by apartheid should own more than 1% of the wealth of the country.
Guaranteed jobs by Big Business and the State for all school leavers will be the first Manifesto pledge of the Party.
While its largest support base will be the large Muslim community in the Western Cape, Aljama hopes to win the support of an equal number of voters of other faiths too. It is hard to find a single Muslim family that does not have relatives and links with Christians and people of other faiths. Many more of Aljama’s election pledges will be announced when the 2009 election date is announced. Our South African public should be well pleased with these pledges and this is when it will become apparent that Aljama is not only a party for people of one faith.
Aljama believes that South Africa is a nation-in-the-making. It is clear that its people have come to accept the fact that they are a multicultural and diverse society which will continue to be characterised by differences, differences that can be embraced and used as a vehicle to arrive at sound, yet innovative and culturally aligned decisions.
Because of the lack of true representation of Muslims in Parliament, there is much work to be done in an effort to nurture the spirituality of a nation which shares a Belief and a divine code – the Shariah. The Sheikh of Cape Town’s most influential mosque in District Six (6), on one of Islam’s holiest nights made a point that South Africa needs guidance. This guidance can be drawn from Islam. To this end, Aljama will strive to allow Shariah a place in the South African legislature. The Party has great potential to tackle this challenge and other social and economic challenges facing the country.
The combination of the Islamic tenets with Ubuntu and true Christian and Hindu values has, in our view, some of the best, most feasible answers for eliminating poverty and other social ills of our country. We believe that an integration of this kind will provide for the moral rejuvenation of South Africa, something which our compatriots have great concern and passion for.
Aljama also believes that the journey towards elimination of poverty from the face of this country will equip us in establishing the moral values needed to curb the rampant crime and corruption still being witnessed here today, in the shadow of the Apartheid era.