There is room for Christian democracy

2018-03-14 06:00
Tshegofatso Leeuw - Social Observer

Tshegofatso Leeuw - Social Observer

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Understanding Christian demo­cracy appears complex to some people.

With so many centre-left and extreme-left political parties in our country, alongside liberal advocates, we as society have neglected to understand Christian democracy, its role and what it could contribute to South Africa’s political and legislative landscape.

Christian democracy at its core is conservative. It includes family values. It advocates the well-being of society; to uphold moral principles, and socio-economic issues.

In the late 1890’s, South Africa witnessed the starting work of churches contributing towards the build-up of democracy.

Every Mangaung resident will by now be exposed to what the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church means. A church where clergymen debated politics and charted a way forward for democracy.

Rev. Zacchaeus Richard Mahabane, an astute Methodist clergyman, played a critical role in contributing legislative submissions modelled on Biblical teachings and fiercely debating politics modelled on Biblical political figures’ approach; peacefully protesting.

How can we forget the Anglican Church with Archbishop Desmond Tutu? He fought hard for democracy during the United Democratic Front days.

Rev. Allan Boesak passionately advocated democracy.

Contemporarily Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was very critical of the Jacob Zuma administration and he often talked about how Zuma dis­regarded “democracy” and how it was evident for every citizen to notice.

One reverend I wish to see back in the advocacy of Christian-influenced legislation and Christian-aligned politics is Rev. Mvume Dandala.

The Congress of the People’s (Cope) internal leadership squabbles let him down big-time.

As Cope’s presidential candidate in the 2009 national and provincial elections, his campaign speeches one could hear were based or influenced by Christian democracy aspects.

And as Cope’s parliamentary leader his legislative work was aligned to Christian democracy aspects.

One must ask if most clergymen who work for the government and who are aligned to the ruling ANC, and who you will find at the O.R. Tambo Building (the former Lebohang Building), influence legislation with Christian democracy principles?

Have they influenced provincial legislation (as the Constitution permits) in the Free State Legislature with Christian democracy?

Pay a visit to the Provincial Legislature and seek any provincial legislation since 1994; it will always be “Eish, I do not know . . . ”

Thus far, we have seen how parliamentarians who align themselves with Christian democracy have successfully put forward private members’ bill on Registration of Paedophiles, the Paternity Leave Bill (family values aspect) and debated advantages of conservative policies.

Christian democracy aspects such as conservatism and family values will not make it as part of the Constitution, due to declaration of our “secular status”, but it can make it to political party constitutions and should make it in most Parliamentarian’s personal ideologies.

“Conservative politics is more pragmatic than liberal politics, which is all focused on individual freedoms, while conservative policies focus on individual freedoms, but with an individual and social responsibility,” Jo-Anne Downs, former member of the provincial legislature in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature said during the late 1990’s.

) Express welcomes contributions to the weekly column. No payment is offered. Send your opinion piece (not exceeding 500 words) in Sotho, Tswana or English to teboho.setena@­ Writers are welcome to send articles of a spiritual nature.


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