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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Speakers at CRL Rights commission dialogue call for social cohesion

'The problem is not only in big parastatals like Eskom, but it has now affected the engine of society – churches and traditional leaders.'

In what could contribute towards the closing of the glaring South African religious, cultural and legal divide, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) yesterday brought all interest groups together, with speakers calling for the deepening of tolerance and synergies.

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With traditional leaders dressed in animal skins, religious sect delegates in church uniform, Muslim representatives in thobes and some lawyers in suits – illustrating the country’s cultural, religious and legal diversity – CRL chair Professor Luka David Mosoma said the commission dialogue had achieved its objectives.

CRL’s objectives

This, despite robust and sometimes rowdy debates. Meant to bridge the gap in understanding the role of religion, law and culture in a post-apartheid South Africa, CRL – an institution established to strengthen constitutional democracy with reference to the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities – organised the gathering to:

  • Address expectations that social cohesion, tolerance, and reconciliation would become a reality among communities from diverse backgrounds; and
  • Prevent SA slipping into an intolerant society on religious, cultural and legal fronts.

Reflecting on the level of debate stimulated by the gathering, Mosoma said: “The fact that religious, cultural and legal sects are brought under one roof, mean that I am achieving the mandate of the commission.

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“It is all about building an atmosphere of tolerance, unity, friendship and humility among each other.

“We are not merely talking about religion and the faith of a particular group, but a national question about the contribution of religion, culture and law to help in the rebuilding of society.

“The robust nature of the debates has taught us that we can differ in views on religion and culture, but people should not be marginalised because of that.”

All about money

University of Pretoria deputy dean in the faculty of law Professor Charles Maimela blamed money as being “the root cause of the moral decay in our country”.

He argued: “We just want to consume money on end. Hence, we are in trouble today.

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“The problem is not only in big parastatals like Eskom, but it has now affected the engine of society – churches and traditional leaders.

“In academia, we often ask ourselves why these groupings are in courts so much. You use a foreign legislation to resolve customary law issues.

“Law is not sufficient to be able to resolve your problems.”

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