“It is time for us all to pull together in unity once more, and act to protect and save lives in the war against COVID-19,” reads the statement. “The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 is made up of different religious organisations and faith traditions that have all been working independently to address the ravages of COVID-19 in the country and within their faith communities.”
The leaderships of these religious communities have now partnered together, to pool their influence and resources to fight the coronavirus as a collective.
Speaking on behalf of the Religious Forum Against COVID-19, Prof. Brij Maharaj of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha emphasised the need for active leadership from religious organisations: “The voices of religious leaders should be more vocal on this issue. If religion cannot contribute to the greater good of humanity, then is it fulfilling its duty to humanity?”
This sentiment was echoed by Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council, who said, “The leaders of our faiths must work together in joint messaging to help reduce infection amongst our people and save lives!”
Numerous challenges face the country, the greatest of which is the alarming rate of infections as has been witnessed over the last few weeks, with Gauteng emerging as the epicentre of infections. Secondary to this are the numerous delays, both within and outside of government’s control, that have limited the speed that the COVID-19 vaccine has been rolled out.
“As a country, there is no room to let our guard (and masks) down,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.
This sentiment was supported by Moulana Ebrahim Bham, secretary general, Council of Muslim Theologians, who added: “At this stage, the reality is in front of all of us. Let us put our debates aside and do the needful. People are gravely ill and we are losing our loved ones.”
The Religious Forum Against COVID-19 called on faith-based organisations to use their infrastructure and member databases to ensure that the elderly in their spaces are assisted with registration for the vaccination. “If our elders do not vaccinate they remain the most vulnerable. We call on all South Africans to help senior citizens register for the vaccine. Together we can help our elders live beyond the pandemic," said Mpumlwana.
“No one in South Africa will be safe until we have all been vaccinated and reach population immunity,” said Pastor Giet Khosa of Rhema Family of Churches. “Together, in unity, we can defeat COVID-19 through our individual efforts at staying safe and getting vaccinated.”