As the sacred month of Ramadan draws to a close, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the Muslim community to join hands with government in the national recovery and reconstruction effort.
"I call on our community and its leaders to continue to be part of the moral regeneration of our society so we can free ourselves from of vice, from crime, from violence, from corruption, and from ignorance and discrimination," he said.
As South Africa grapples the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Ramaphosa said government had a monumental task to rebuild the country and at the same time deal with the enduring legacy of its past.
The President made remarks during an address at the Iftaar dinner of The Greater Athlone Parliamentary Constituency Office on Thursday. The Muslim group was breaking fast after a month of Ramadan.
"A time will come when COVID-19 has passed, and we will be able to return to our lives. But we know the many ills that preceded the pandemic remain," President Ramaphosa said.
The country, he said, has to advance the cause of social justice, as the injustices of South Africa's past continue to be felt daily by citizens, including in the Muslim community.
Ramadan is a time in which Muslims engage in the higher matters of the spirit. But it is also a time of cooperation, solidarity and unity.
He said: "This is a country that has been bestowed with much, and her greatest asset is her people.
"The apartheid regime sought to make us enemies of each other, of African against Coloured, of Coloured against Indian, and of black against black. Years later, we still have to contend with those who seek to pit us against each other and sow divisions".
President Ramaphosa said the country was brought together by democracy and still stood together.
South Africa, he said, "must continue to be champions of gender justice and inclusion of women in our communities in everything we do".
"We must take a firm stand against all forms of gender-based violence and gender discrimination; we must stand firmly for justice, even if it is against our parents, our relatives, or our very selves," he said.
Local government elections
With the country set to hold its sixth local government elections in five months, President Ramaphosa said it was important for the public to know that a vote was "the most potent weapon" in the hands of all who aspire to a better society that is more compassionate, that is kinder to the suffering and the needy, that is more equal, and that respects the fundamental rights and freedoms of all.
"It is a society that the illustrious anti-apartheid leaders from the Muslim community fought for, and it is our responsibility to uphold this legacy.
One nation united in diversity
"We are one nation that is united in its diversity. We can only build South Africa if we each play our part," he said.
President Ramaphosa said this would not just be achieved by just the Muslim or Christian communities, nor as any other grouping, but just as South Africans who love this country.
"May the cherished values of peace, charity and solidarity that characterise Ramadan continue to prevail, and is spread around. Just as the kramats in the mountains and hills form a protective ring around the city and its people, let us hold firmly to the rope of unity, for it is our strongest shield," he said.
"Let us keep our eyes fixed on the common goal of a better South Africa and a better life for all."