Storm over Ballito Masjid plan: DA says ANC using case for voter support

The DA says it wants facts placed before it regarding the proposal to build a mosque in Ballito before it votes on the matter, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

The Democratic Alliance has denied that it is firmly opposed to the building of a mosque in the vibrant holiday town of Ballito and has accused the ANC for politicizing the matter ahead of elections.

The storm erupted after the matter of a proposal for a mosque was tabled at a chamber meeting of the KwaDukuza council recently. The proposal was to construct a sizeable Masjid on land that is currently used as a recreational park, opposite the All Saints Catholic church and next to the Ballito Lions Scouts Hall.

Sipho Mkhize, the KwaDukuza municipality (KDM) media liaison officer said the municipality will sell 400m² of the land for R3.6 million, as the municipality had a responsibility to assist religious organisations.

He said that all political parties except the Democratic Alliance (DA) had supported the building of a mosque on the site. He said DA councillors want KDM to look for an alternative site.

He said an agreement was reached to sell a portion of the site to the Zululand Islamic Society, adding the decision was taken to redress the unjust decision of the apartheid government who had “prohibited non-whites from residing or having places of worship in areas that were demarcated for the white populace at the time.”

Replying to allegations that the DA leaders were hopping mad at the idea of a mosque being proposed in a residential area of the KZN North Coast town, Moulana Rafick Shah (DA MP) told Al Qalam: “You must agree that there is a distinction to be made between “opposing” something and “abstaining” from something. This is a clear case of cheap politicking and blatant manipulation of the facts. The ANC is desperate to retain its voter support base at all cost. This is one part of that initiative.”

Moulana Shah provided Al Qalam the official DA’s statement from its spokesperson, Councillor Tammy Coller. It read: The DA recognises that areas like Ballito have in the past not had places of worship due to our apartheid history. We recognise the right to practice religion freely. It must be noted with emphasis that once a Public Open Space is lost to a community it can never be regained.

“The DA will not oppose assisting communities in locating places to worship, but it cannot be done in a manner that alienates other member of the same community thereby creating division.

“We will never oppose finding suitable places for communities to worship. We must question why the current ANC government has taken 25 years to assist the Muslim community.

“We deeply concerned that due to lack of public participation and usage study into the park the decision may be rendered null and void.

“Based on the incomplete information placed before us we are unable to make a decision and will have to abstain,” she said.

Meanwhile, the executive of the Stanger-based Zululand Islamic Society told Al Qalam they would set up a meeting with the DA leaders next week to address all their concerns including the matter of azaan “noise”. The DA’s other concern was that the mosque will create traffic jams, would also be addressed. he said.

The spokesman said Ballito was fast becoming a city and with the two new malls recently opened, it had drawn scores of Muslims to the area for work and to live. Currently, there is a mussalah, and during jummah, some 120 musalees attend – and the numbers are growing each week.. There is a dire need for an established masjid, he added.

Meanwhile, Moosa Motala of the IFP said all those people, especially Muslims who support the DA should “hang their heads in shame”.

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