Following on our attendance at the State of the Nation address, last week the Board’s National Vice-President Zev Krengel and Parliamentary Liaison Chaya Singer attended the National Budget Speech in Parliament. This was preceded by various scheduled meetings with, amongst others, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, ANC Deputy Chief Whip Dorries Dlakude, EFF President Julius Malema and DA Interim Leader John Steenhuisen. Additionally they had opportunity to interact with Ministers and Members of Parliament from all political parties. Following the Budget speech, they attended the annual American Chamber of Commerce reception.
Chaya subsequently attended a Parliamentary Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs lunch for Traditional Leaders and is engaging with various actors regarding stakeholder participation in Parliament on the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Commission and the regularisation of religion. In the same week as the Budget speech, our representative on interfaith relations Reeva Forman represented our community at a meeting to establish an Interfaith Task Team to work with Government towards societal renewal, including facilitating the establishment of the Presidential Interfaith Working Group. This follows on from the meeting of faith-based leaders held on 5 February at the Union Buildings convened by President Ramaphosa “to engage with religious leaders ahead of this year’s State of the Nation Address.
Engagements like these are part of our ongoing work in building relations with government, policy and opinion makers and political parties across the spectrum. Such relationships have been and continue to be of vital assistance to us in fulfilling our mandate of representing the interests of SA Jewry, upholding its civil rights and dealing effectively with issues whenever they arise. A key part of the reason for this is that through this kind of regular engagement, the Jewish community is seen, as President Ramaphosa put it at our 2018 Gauteng conference, as being “valued partners in building a better society for all”. We strive to position ourselves not as a narrowly-focused special interest group but as an identifying, participating component of South African society. Our visible presence and participation on public platforms and in national events such as SONA further helps to strengthen our own community’s feelings of connection to the society of which they are part, while creating avenues through which we can find ways to continue contributing and building bridges.