The church speaks out

2012-12-16 10:00

Some advice for the ANC as it goes into its elective conference

Is there hope for our democracy?

There are restless voices in different sectors of our society yearning for change, not for a superficial change of one self-serving political leader for another, or one political party for another, but for a different kind of leadership that can restore hope to the poor.

They yearn for a change from an increasingly corrupt political, business and societal culture to one that is accountable to the people.

We know that, even though the dream of a just, nonracial and prospering democracy is temporarily in eclipse – being throttled by the actions (or lack of it) of a generation of leaders who seem to have largely lost their moral compass – the people are capable of rising to reclaim

their future.

The unfinished story of reconciliation means that when many South Africans go to the polls in 2014, they will vote for the future, but largely with the past in mind.

We are concerned that, for most of our people, this unfinished story means that their choices have become stereotyped into believing that it is as simple as “white” vs “black” parties, and that white for them equals apartheid and racism, while black equals freedom and justice.

It is the task of all South Africans to continue to detribalise our society and our minds, and to build the democracy we want for our children.

We are convinced that God engenders faith, hope and love in us, and those things will endure forever.

With these thoughts in mind, we now address South Africa’s political and economic leaders.

To our political leaders

Some political leaders are working hard and doing their best to serve the people of South Africa.

For this we are grateful. But we believe too many are self-serving and arrogant.

At this time, we urge you:

» To recognise the loss of hope, and the growth of cynicism and anger, of which Marikana and now De Doorns are massive signals;

» To practise the authority and the power you have with the grace with which it was bestowed on you, addressing and repenting of corruption and self-service;

» To stop the sickening double-talk, which we view as a form of deception and corruption;

» To not settle for mediocrity, but to think deeply about the kind of leaders you appoint as part of a cadre deployment policy and those you elect at your elective conferences;

» To understand that the electoral system, where internal party systems allow that a few thousand people begin the process of deciding on the political leaders for the rest of the Republic, is clearly not acceptable and sustainable;

» To stop the compromising and decay of our education system. A government that allows the education system to regress in the way ours has, does not deserve to be governing the people of South Africa; and

» That instead of adding any more plans to what is on the table, to rather start implementing the plans we already have, especially the national development plan.

If you are not willing to do these things and to imagine a new kind of politics that will bring abundant life to all, please step aside and make way for others who are able to do so.

To our economic leaders

We all know that economics and politics are intimately linked, and that these processes have to work together.

When they work against each other, any nation will fall into chaos.

We appreciate those economic players who are acting with integrity, and who are taking risks and growing our economy.

But we also wish to ask our economic leaders and trade unions:

» Why, after 18 years of democracy in South Africa, and after several years of economic growth, do we have a higher unemployment rate now than when we started our democracy?

Why is inequality deepening? What actions have you taken to alleviate this situation? To what extent are you responsible for this?

Some of these have global features, but some are relevant to us in South Africa only.

» What are economic leaders doing to share the pain of global economic trends, instead of continuing with huge salaries in the face of economic downturns?

» Why are you, business leaders, more concerned about maximising the short- and medium-term profits of your companies via mechanisation, specialisation and optimisation, than about the long-term future of our country via job creation, job preservation, education of our youth and applying environmentally sustainable business practices?

» Why, for instance, is our mining industry still only extracting and exporting, and not beneficiating that which is mined from the land?

» Why are the needs of young people, particularly for employment, not being addressed? Can the differences between various groups not be resolved?

To the poor and oppressed

South Africa faces a crisis moment, and thanks to the strong messages from the poor on the mines and the farms, South Africans now have no option but to begin to renegotiate our economic life together.

This crisis is therefore an opportunity and one that cannot be wasted. From what we can see, there seems to be two options for our nation:

» Either we break the South African house down completely, destroy whatever foundation is there and start building again on a new foundation.

» Or we re-enforce the present structure, and ensure that it is infinitely better and safer than the first house that was built.

The image of the “house” is an important one. If we were to follow the first option, the South African family will not have a place to live in and there will be considerable chaos until the new house is constructed, or until there is complete chaos.

This approach has already caused pain and would mean considerable more pain for all of us as South Africans.

The fundamental decision must, however, be made. The current house is cracking and therefore something must be done urgently.

The poor should then ask and demand clear answers to the following:

» What does reinforcement of the foundations of our society mean?

» Will it mean that the elite will stop blocking all the different ways in which creative forms of restitution can happen?

» Will it mean that small pieces of land could be transferred to farm workers from farmers, the church and the state, who have many hectares of land?

Our commitments to the future

We all agree that high-quality education is the key to many of our challenges, and that this should not be further compromised.

Unfortunately, it has been compromised and now only a combined and collaborative effort

from government, civil society, the church, the economic sector and other stakeholders will ensure that we do not continue on our present trajectory.

We firmly believe that an enormous opportunity lies in the unity of believers in South Africa and that this can be a beacon of hope.

Our disunity is often caused by ourselves, but sometimes it is engineered by those who see our it

as a threat to their nefarious activities.

We pledge to not wait on others to do what needs to be done to address issues in our country, but to take the initiative to encourage all citizens to become actively involved towards the full realisation of a healthy democracy for South Africa.

We commit to:

» Never ceasing to pray for all the people of this country, for ourselves, for the political and economic leaders of our society, and for the poor and oppressed;

» Working together against corruption;

» Integrity;

» Doing all in our power to hold the value of quality education for all our people as something not to be compromised; and

» Working together towards employment opportunities for all in our country.

» This is an edited statement by church organisations SACC, TEASA and Kairos SA to the ANC as the party approaches its elective conference in Mangaung

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