Q&A with Hanif Virji, Chairman of the National Security and Safety Portfolio of Tanzania

Hanif Virji, better known as “Pepe”, is the Chairman of the Safety and Security Committee. As a member of the National Council since 2019, he oversees the Council’s safety and security function, which derives from a set of global guidelines, used as a point of reference by every National Council around the world.
For this Nowruz issue of the Khabar e-Newsletter, we interviewed Pepe to discuss about safety and security team’s responsibilities, their key objectives and how they approach their mandate.

Question 1: Who is responsible for the safety and security of Jamati members?

Good question! There are multiple stakeholders involved in keeping the Jamat safe. Just as an employer has a duty to care for their employees and how our neighbors take care of each other in our neighbourhood, we seek to look out for one another. Within our community, our Jamati institutions are there to support us as family units, just as we take care of our loved ones. And as individuals, it’s our job to be mindful of our own personal safety and security. So, to answer your question, all stakeholders have a role to play, but it’s very clear to me that it starts with us as individuals, taking the lead to ensure our own personal safety and security.

Question 2: You mentioned support from Jamati institutions. Is that where you and your team play a role?

Yes, that’s correct. The National Council is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of the Jamat, Jamatkhana, and Jamati activities and events – in all parts of our jurisdiction of Tanzania and in Zambia. It’s the task of our safety and security teams, and numerous volunteers on the ground who work hard to fulfil this responsibility. Our job is to identify all relevant threats, assess risk and support members of the Jamat and institutional colleagues to identify ways to manage and mitigate any risks. For example, we have recently been trained to conduct assessments to determine safety and security weaknesses at our Jamatkhanas. Once completed, we can find smart solutions and make improvements as needed in collaboration with the National Council and relevant institutions. Similarly, if we also provide useful tips and good practice ideas to the Jamat (such as home fire safety tips) for Jamati members to implement and make their homes safer.

Question 3: That’s really interesting. So, what are the National Council safety and security priorities and your team’s key objectives for 2021?

The Council has committed to a strategic, thoughtful and assessment-led approach to manage its safety and security responsibilities, which is to continue to be more proactive and better prepared.
To support this, the team’s key objectives are as follows: 1) To properly orientate our safety and security volunteers; 2) To train our volunteers to undertake their responsibilities effectively; 3) To conduct assessments of all Jamatkhanas and Council facilities and works with all stakeholders to make recommended improvements; 4) To produce strategic and operational documentation based on best practices; 5) To communicate and work effectively with our institutional colleagues; and 6) To support the Jamat with their personal safety and security awareness through regular communication.

Question 4: Thank you Pepe, it seems like a big responsibility on your hands. Do you have any final message to our readers?

It is a big job, but I am not alone! I hope that it’s understood that safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. The safety and security team and volunteers are here to provide expertise and support and we do this carefully and with consideration in line with all rules and regulations. We are also aware that we must continue to provide voluntary but professional service, and that is what we are aiming for.

We are grateful to “Pepe” for this short interview with interesting and informative details. In the next issue of The Khabar, we will speak to “Pepe” about collaborations with external and internal stakeholders and area/zone support to Jamati members.
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