Church must speak out more, not back down — African Enterprise
[notice] A report and commentary by African Enterprise on the letter to the Government from Christian leaders and the role of the Church as a prophetic voice and agent of transformation. This article was published in the latest newsletter published by the AE Communications Department. [/notice]
“Even though the dream of a just, non-racial and prospering democracy is temporarily in eclipse, being throttled by the actions (or lack of it) of a generation of leaders who seems to have largely lost their moral compass, the people of South Africa ARE capable of rising to reclaim their future. It is the faith in actions that will assist us all to reclaim a future of hope and compassion” — SACC, AE, TEASA and KAIROS in a letter to President Zuma
African Enterprise has joined forces with the South African Council of Churches (SACC), The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA) and Kairos Southern Africa to raise issues of serious concern.
In a letter written to President Jacob Zuma and the government at large, the Christian group challenged the government on seven critical areas which require their urgent attention. These included recognising the increased levels of hopelessness, cynicism and anger amongst South Africans, to use their authority graciously and thereby stop the abuse of power and to turn their backs on the deception and “sickening double talk” which is the order of the day.
The letter also delved into the decay in the education system, the lack of implementation of plans and the inadequacies of the electoral system and internal party systems. Underscoring the urgency of addressing these matters, the Christian group further challenged the government, saying: “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 re-imagine what a healthy democracy in South Africa will look like”.
The letter also addressed economic leaders and trade unions, recognising the inextricable link between economics and politics and hitting out at unacceptable levels of unemployment and inequality, even 18 years after democracy. They also focused on the lack of attention given to job creation, with more interest in profiteering and a lack of environmentally sustainable business practices.
Additionally, the poor and oppressed were addressed and encouraged to recognise that the present house/structure of South Africa is cracking – and that there are two choices which face South Africans. The first is to break the structure down and rebuild it, and the second is to re-inforce that which is already in place, making it better than the original version.
To prevent a vacuum for others to come in and create chaos, the Christian group of leaders recommends the latter, encouraging the poor and oppressed to engage with others in their communities, asking specific questions.
Should no decision and plan for change be forthcoming within two to three years, the letter states that “the workers and the youth have no choice but to break down the foundation so that something completely new can emerge. These are the choices that face us as South Africans: we either work together on such a new deal (and do so urgently) or we face a revolt of the poor”. The group was clear about warning against the use of violence though, saying that it would be dangerous to advocate such actions.
Although President Jacob Zuma recently met with the National Religious Leaders’ Council (NLRC) and discussed the importance of partnerships between government and religious groups, Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ANC, yesterday indicated that the letter was found to be offensive and had put ANC leadership under pressure ahead of their party conference next week.
In view of this response, it is clear that the Church needs to step up their efforts to reclaim their prophetic voice, rather than backing down. The new year will see 100 key Christian leaders, from all sectors of society, meet at the Christian Leadership Indaba to engage, envision and strategise a way forward for the South African church.
The indaba is especially significant as it the beginning of a sustainable, strategic process where the challenges will be identified so that plans can be put in place to ensure unity amongst the body of Christ, with renewed relevance, healing and impact.
Click here to read the initial letter to President Jacob Zuma.
Click here to read the full, detailed letter entitled: The Church speaks.