The former chair of the CRL Rights Commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, who campaigned vigorously for state regulation of religion, has been excluded from a list of 13 people appointed by the presidency to serve on the commission for the next five years.
Earlier this year Mkhwanazi-Xaluva and her deputy chair, Prof Luka Davis Mosoma, were included on a shortlist of 42 candidates for appointment as commissioners for the new term, prompting serious concern by various religious and church leaders who hoped that the government would choose new commissioners who would contribute to restoring trust between the CRL and the religious community.
Prof Mosoma has been appointed as the new chair. The new deputy chair is Dr Sylvia Mmamohapi Pheto, who is also new to the commission.
Five other commissioners have been re-appointed for another term, namely Sheila Kama, Sicelo Dlamini, Nomalanga Tyamzashe, Adv Richard Botha and Renier Schoeman. Another six commissioners are new appointments, namely Tsholofelo Mosala, Dr Oscarine Nokuzolo Mndende, Ramokone Trypina Kgatla, Dr Muneer Abduroaf, Prof Pitika Ntuli, and Mandla Langa.
According to Michael Swain, executive director of Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA): “FOR SA welcomes the appointment of the new commissioners and is committed to working with the commission to ensure that the religious rights of all persons in South Africa (including religious practitioners and their congregants), are protected and promoted.”
Commenting further, Swain said: “In a time where globally there is a serious erosion of religious freedom in multiple areas, the CRL has a critical role to play in creating an environment wherein religious communities can flourish, and religious believers can give expression to their deepest convictions and beliefs within the rule of law. As such, the commission’s role should be not to control, but to enable and enhance believers’ exercising of their religious rights.