17 January 2019 / 10 Jamad-Ul-Awwal 1440
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SANZAF, MARCHING ON…
- Written by Shafiq Morton
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THE South African National Zakah Fund, or SANZAF as it is fondly known, is one of the country’s most enduring and established humanitarian agencies. For over 40 years, SANZAF has served the Muslim community by ensuring that Zakah, a communal pillar of faith, has been executed.
This SANZAF has done without reproach, producing an audited balance sheet every year to guarantee its total transparency. In addition, its beneficiaries have been known to all and sundry, the organisation’s PR and marketing team making sure that the public is duly informed of who gets what.
Bearing this in mind, and writing in my personal capacity – and not on behalf of SANZAF – I have to express my deep disappointment that certain individuals decided to publicly vilify the integrity of the organisation during Ramadan.
The ensuing chaos, and lack of compassion for understanding a decision by SANZAF’s chairperson – a man of impeccable character – to endorse a social harmony project by civic society, must have caused tremendous anxiety for the recipients, the real victims here, of SANZAF’s aims.
Ironic to this imbroglio was the misleading, mendacious and mischievous assumption that SANZAF’s beneficiaries suddenly became members of a certain ideological grouping because of the endorsement. The group – a distinct minority within us and aggressively isolated by the antagonists – has never been on SANZAF’s radar.
Realising that neutrality would be the better option, SANZAF withdrew its endorsement.
And as the noise dies down, we all know it will be business as usual at SANZAF. I have been witness to SANZAF’s activities for over 20 of its 43 years, and not once have I ever seen it stray from the middle path – the Qur’anically enjoined wasitiya – in terms of approach in seeing to the needs of the community.
And this Ramadan was certainly no exception. Once again, thousands of fitrah parcels were distributed nation-wide, ensuring that the needy had a bundle of joy for the month. In addition, Zakah education programmes were in full swing in the mosques, SANZAF panels explaining the workings of Zakah to the public.
Incidentally, these are all institutional activities which some countries struggle to emulate. Most certainly within the Muslim minority context, SANZAF has proved to be a leader and an innovator, its outreach in so many different areas – from bursaries to entrepreneurial training – much admired by those who visit us.
It is indeed sad to see that the appointment of a woman as the organisation’s new CEO, being overshadowed by the drama. The CEO’s role has been defined as directing “the strategic and operational activities of SANZAF in line with its strategy and business plan and to effectively control and manage the administration”.
It has to be pointed out that SANZAF’s outreach is enhanced by the fact that spend on administration, a very necessary tool, has always been kept lean. The chairperson, a former accountant, has often told me that he is very particular about this.
The evolution of SANZAF has also been an important factor in its exponential growth from the 1970s to the present. From being a purely relief based organisation it has realised that aid is not merely putting a plaster on a wound or issuing a food parcel, but rather the deeper issue of changing lives through development.
So as we head into the depths of winter and the latter half of 2018, we can only pray that SANZAF goes from strength to strength, for without its interventions, we would all be the poorer.