File photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa on Wednesday welcomed the establishment by interfaith religious leaders of a values-based initiative. FILE PHOTO: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA).

DURBAN - The Presidency said on Wednesday that president Cyril Ramaphosa had welcomed the establishment by interfaith religious leaders of a values-based initiative to engender social cohesion, nation-building and societal renewal.
In an emailed statement, the Presidency said that about 400 interfaith religious leaders participated in the Presidential Interfaith Societal Renewal Colloquium in Lynnwood, Pretoria, earlier in the day. 
"The colloquium centred on a proposal by faith communities for societal renewal in South Africa. The proposal has been conceptualised as a response to the President’s Thuma Mina call for all sectors of society and individuals to contribute to improving social and economic conditions in the country.
"The proposal envisages a range of programmes and activities within communities of faith and broader society that will be positioned as the Presidential Societal Renewal," said the statement. 
Interfaith leaders believed social renewal and the positive repositioning of South Africa’s national character were at the heart of South Africa’s growth and renewal, said the statement. 
"This initiative will focus on addressing disturbing social phenomena such as unemployment, inequality, gender-based violence, crime and lawlessness and violence against foreign nationals. 
"The societal renewal programme will motivate South Africans to coalesce around the values of tolerance and ubuntu, which are shared across the entire spectrum of South Africa’s diverse society."

Ramaphosa signed a statement of intent developed by the colloquium that set out the principles underpinning the proposed initiative as well as focus areas for programmes, said the presidency.  
The statement of intent also outlined possible institutional arrangements between government and the religious sector that would facilitate the functioning of the societal renewal initiative.
"The statement of intent forms the basis of a declaration that will be signed by stakeholders and will be converted into a declaration at a future stage, based on proposals made by delegates at today’s engagement."
Ramaphosa said the dialogue had touched on the “wounds of our nation” and had affirmed that religious leadership was ideally placed to heal those wounds through prayer and social initiatives.
African News Agency (ANA)