Monday, February 14, 2011

URCSA leaders, blast Zuma and the ANC: 'South Africa is no heaven under the ANC'

In perhaps the strongest response by a church to the utterances of the ANC president, the URCSA leadership has come our guns blazing, on the apparant 'misuse of religion'. I'm thrilled. Listen to this:

The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa has learned with great concern and sadness of the misuse of religion for the umpteenth time, by the African National Congress (ANC), solely for cheap political ends. It was not long ago, as recently as 2008, that another leader in the ANC, the Premier of the Free State, Mr. Ace Magashule, according to newspaper reports, said that: “Zuma suffers like Jesus.” Mr. Magashule then said, “Jesus was prosecuted. He was called names and was betrayed. This is the same kind of suffering that Mr. Zuma had to endure in recent times…”

According to newspaper reports, Mr. Zuma, President of the ANC, among other things, said on an electioneering campaign, “When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven. When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork (the devil)… who cooks people. When you get up there (heaven), there are different cards used, but when you have an ANC card, you will go to heaven.”

In the Christian faith, the Bible and its Confessions, heaven has a fundamental significance as the abode of God and for those closely associated with him. Traditionally Christianity has taught heaven as a place of eternal life, and a Kingdom of God. As Christians we believe Jesus Christ our Saviour took up His place at the right hand of God, after His ascension, from where He will return to judge humankind. Heaven in our understanding is also a reverent periphrasis for God. The Bible, when it speaks of heaven, it speaks of the “Kingdom of heaven”, which belongs to God.
Heaven is furthermore understood in the Bible as the peaceful condition on a New Earth (Revelations 21, Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:7). Heaven speaks of bodily perfection: No hunger, thirst, death, sickness, and no tears (Isaiah 1:25, Jeremiah 31:12-13). Heaven speaks of ruined cities that will once again be inhabited by people and flocks of sheep (Amos 19:14, Isaiah: 14, 61:4-5)

For Mr. Jacob Zuma, president of the ANC, and president of our country, to equate the ANC with the above beliefs of Christians, about heaven, is to defile one of the core beliefs of the Christian community not only in South Africa, but of the Christian family, around the world. It is unbecoming of somebody, like Mr. Zuma, who presides over a nation of many faiths and in whose faith the religious concept of heaven plays a significant role.
No ANC membership card will get anyone to heaven or guarantee an automatic pass to heaven. According to Christian faith, the only way to heaven is repentance and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

South Africa is no heaven under the ANC. Daily tears flow from the eyes of our citizens, because they are victims of murder and other types of violent crime. Poverty and unemployment increase day by the day. Children must attend classes in the open without anything decent to sit on. Delivery of services by the government is despicable to say the least. This is not heaven, if anything for many South Africans, this is hell.

The president of the ANC has clearly no respect for what we hold dear as people of faith. We call on the president of the ANC and his organization not to misuse religion for cheap party political gains or to prop up their election campaign with the misuse of religion and religious coercion. The president of the ANC should sell his party’s policies to the nation and not use scare tactics by misusing people’s deeply held beliefs.

No amount of spin-doctoring by the ANC will be enough to cover up this, yet another insult, to the Christian faith. Mr. Zuma, in his capacity as president of South Africa, should apologize to the Christian Community for his insensitivity, because he presides over a nation of many faiths.

The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) rejects the utterances made by Mr. Zuma, president of the ANC. The New and real South Africa stands for religious respect and tolerance, which the president of the ANC and the ANC from time to time disrespect.

In light of this yet another despicable occurrence, the leadership of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa has no other choice, but to call upon all its members, to search their conscience before God, to think carefully and ask themselves , if they can vote in this coming election for any party who has no respect for their faith.
What we need in South Africa is an electorate who votes on moral grounds.

Issued by: The Executive/Moderamen of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA)
Prof. Thias Kgatla (Moderator)
Rev Dr Mary- Ann Plaatjies – Huffel (Deputy- Moderator)
Rev Dr Dawid Kuyler (Scribe/ Executive Secretary)
Rev Godfrey Betha (Actuarius)
Rev Dr LJ Modise
Rev Dr Henry G Platt
Rev. PM Moloi

Distributed by: Rev Daniel Kuys
(Media spokesperson of the Moderamen /Executive of the General Synod of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Mubarak, simply don't get it.

Perhaps one of the more pressing challenges facing Mubarak's generation of tyrants, is the fact that they simply don't get it. Some might argue that he is trying his best: He appeared in his toy TV station, all dressed up and ...well... nowhere to go. He send in the police, the army, the veterans, the mobs to restore peace, but the people in Liberation Square is simply going nowhere. It's obvious: he didn't get the message, its time for him to go.

I would however want to probe deeper, because here's a lesson to be learnt. The issue is not simply that another dictator is being shown the door. Of course that is the main thing happening here and like many other tyrants, its clear, they don't simply hand over power to their people. Let's remind ourselves of the words of Biko,
'We must accept that no group, however benevolent, can ever hand power to the vanquished on a plate. We must accept that the limits of the tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppressed....the system concedes nothing without demand'
We must therefor salute our sisters and brothers up in the North, the Egyptians and Tunisians for standing up for their (our) freedom and indeed this struggle will continue, in many other parts of the world.

But there is something else. Its something that I pick up from the responses to the uprising, also in traditional media. Its not clear in my head yet; its just a gut feeling. Its seems to me that the constant frantic speculation about which parties are involved, about Islamic fundamentalism and about which leaders are waiting in the wing, etc...suggest something else. These commentators seemingly know what will happen and expect more of the same. They think (like Mubarak and his generation) that they know this game. They know the passionate youth and yes, 'this too shall pass'. After this, everything will return to 'normal'. Folks, I'm not so sure about this. It seems to me that this 'organic' and indeed social phenomenon is something different and yes, we will have to wait and see how it will pans out. For now there are some indications of what's to come: They don't march under anyone's or party's banner; political parties were left behind or wake up very late and still don't get it. Its clear, the traditional mediahouses are still playing catch-up. They follow, dazed, these movements and expressions; These often morph into new expressions, whether it be organising, social care in the streets, in houses of worship, volunteer community groups protecting the vulnerable, family-based carnivals, prayer meetings, quick-mix self-protection units and protections units for the cultural heritage, etc... The list goes on and here we see it will continue to invent new ways in which humanity's urge for being, grow through the ruins of an old world.

For me this is fascinating, this is life evolving...its something that cannot be controlled, let alone crushed. What Mubarak and his ilk don't get is that the game has not changed; but that there is another game at play and he simply don't have the capacity to be part of it. This will happen with Mugabe as well.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

In solidarity, with Egypt-Frantz Fanon

I'm reading Fanon's book 'Black Skin, White Masks' and are struck by his broad sense of solidarity, when it comes to injustice in the world. This comes in the context of the struggles of people against injustices all over the post-independant continent. He qoutes, Karl Jaspers extensively,

There exists amongst men [sic] because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and espescially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant. If I do not do whatever I can to prevent them, I am an accomplice in them. If I have not risked my life in order to prevent the murder of other men, if I have stood silent, I feel guilty in a sense that cannot in any adequate fashion be understood juridically, or politically, or morally..... That I am still alive after such things have been done weighs on me as a guilt that cannot be expiated.
Somewhere in the heart of human relations an absolute command imposes itself: In case of criminal attack or of living conditions that threaten phsyical being, accept life only for all together, otherwise not at all.
[La culpabilite allemande, p 60-61]