Home PodcastJulie Alli New leadership at SAHUC: Charting a path of hope and transformation

New leadership at SAHUC: Charting a path of hope and transformation

by Luqmaan Rawat
SAHUC has new leadership with a vision to improve its services Photo Twitter/@sahuchajj

South Africa -The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) introduced its newly elected office bearers, following their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday. Hafiz Moaaz Casoo, from the Lenasia South Muslim Association, has assumed the presidency of SAHUC. Several other positions have witnessed changes, instilling optimism  this fresh leadership will usher in substantial improvements.

Hafiz Casoo took the helm as SAHUC’s president, surrounded by a team of seasoned individuals deeply committed to the organisation’s core mission. SAHUC boasts two Deputy Presidents, namely Sheikh Riad Fataar from the Muslim Judicial Council and Sheikh Adam Macheso from the Islamic Tower Movement, both of whom bring extensive SAHUC experience to their roles.

Heading the position of Secretary General is Hafiz Hassan Choonara, from the Africa Muslim Agency, leveraging his considerable years of dedicated service within SAHUC. Meanwhile, Yusuf Cassim, from AWQAF SA, brings his four-year tenure within SAHUC to the role of Assistant Secretary General.

SAHUC has also enlisted a new Treasurer, Asif Essop, from the Muslim Youth Movement, who comes equipped with a wealth of financial acumen and a lengthy history within the treasury department. Additionally, Imam Shamiel Basadien, of the Majlisush Shura Al-Islami from Cape Town, steps into the role of Assistant Treasurer, contributing his financial expertise to the organisation.

The new board members include former SAHUC president Shaheen Essop, Ismail Kholvadia, who has spearheaded missions for the past 15 years, and Qari Moosa Seedat, one of the organisation’s founding figures. This trio of board members brings a profound reservoir of knowledge and experience to SAHUC.

Rounding out this transformative lineup is the National Administrator, Yaseera Ally, whose remarkable 17-year tenure with the organisation is testament to her dedication and expertise. These sweeping changes are met with enthusiasm by President Hafiz Casoo, who takes pride in the wealth of knowledge and experience now onboard.

“There’s a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience. We looked at succession planning for the organisation and this is where we are. We’ve got a strong team on the board and also within the NGC (National General Council) members that play a pivotal role in the organisation and prefer to remain in the background doing all the hard work. Collectively, as a 25 member organisation, we’ve got a lot of knowledge, a lot of expertise, and a lot of members that are serving the guests of Allah (SWT). We are very proud to serve the guests of Allah (SWT) and we are provided the opportunity to serve at the highest level.”

The appointments for the Chairpersons of Johannesburg, Kwa Zulu-Natal, and Cape Town are pending and will be determined by each respective region following their individual AGMs, scheduled to occur within the next 21 days. Subsequently, these newly elected Chairpersons will assume their positions on the board.

Journey and vision of SAHUC under Hafiz Casoo

Hafiz Casoo shared his personal journey of going from a critic to a dedicated member. He performed his first and only Hajj in 2014. Prior to going for Hajj, he was vehemently against the organisation complaining on multiple occasions about the accreditation process. It was only during his Hajj that his view on the organisation changed.

“I also questioned what systems SAHUC have, who do they think they are to tell us [how to do things]. Allah (SWT) had plans for me on my Hajj. This very same organisation that I complained about, the SAHUC mission team in particular, changed my perception and earned my respect for this organisation. I then related to my wife that I got to come home and make a difference. I gotta eat humble pie and go and help SAHUC and play my part in making a difference. To give this organisation the credit they deserve.” 

Hafiz Casoo became a part of SAHUC in the early months of 2015, initially serving as a regional secretary. His dedication and contributions led to his nomination and subsequent election as the Secretary General at the national level. Over the years, his involvement in various SAHUC committees and participation in protocol meetings held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have afforded him an in-depth understanding of SAHUC’s intricate operations. Armed with this extensive experience, Hafiz Casoo is focused on enhancing several aspects of SAHUC’s functions and services.

“One of the highest focus points for us at SAHUC is to look at improving service delivery to the hujjaj in South Africa as well as in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We’ve got to strengthen our working relationship with the travel operators, the stakeholders here in South Africa as well abroad in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The most important thing is to try and find systems and ways for improving the cost of Hajj. Not to say that we haven’t been doing so in the past.”


Challenges and prospects

According to Hafiz Casoo, earlier this year, SAHUC embarked on protocol meetings where the primary agenda revolved around pricing discussions. Initially, they declined the offered pricing, engaging in negotiations that eventually resulted in a reduction of the cost. Subsequently, they presented this revised pricing to the hujjaj, fully acknowledging that it remains high and burdensome. This is a battle SAHUC is dedicated to fighting but it is not an easy one to win.

“One thing that the hujjaj must also understand is that our Rand is not strong. Against the [Saudi] Riyal it is sometimes four close to five if not over five to one just as a starting point. Secondly, since Saudi Arabia Airlines has not yet resumed their flights in South Africa, it becomes very excessive for the hujjaj whether you’re travelling for Hajj or Umrah. We found that tickets were in a price range between R20 000 to R25 000 per person. Now we’ve heard the good news that  Saudi Airlines will be resuming in December and January. We make Dua that they continue further so they can have more competition in the market and hopefully the pricing will be reduced.”

In the wake of SAHUC recent AGM, a new era of leadership has dawned, infused with hope and determination. With Hafiz Moaaz Casoo at the helm, supported by a team of seasoned individuals deeply committed to SAHUC’s mission, the organisation is poised for transformative change. Despite challenges in pricing and other areas, President Hafiz Casoo’s vision and the prospect of improved service delivery and reduced costs offer a promising path forward. As SAHUC continues its journey to serve the guests of Allah (SWT), the resounding message is one of optimism and unity, forging a brighter future for pilgrims in South Africa.


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