post

Voices from Soweto: Report About KOPANO Freedom for All


unnamed

VOICES FROM SOWETO

Over 100 activists from 11 African countries gathered in Soweto, South Africa, 28–30 September 2015, in a unique strategy space for groups that are working to advance and protect the human rights and social inclusion of homosexual and bisexual women and men, as well as transgender and intersex people.

Breaking away from dreary conference formats, the kopano was purposefully designed as a community gathering. It was defined by collaborative organizing, learning from each other, intense strategy debate, time for remembering those who have gone before us, and great moments to celebrate milestones that have been reached. In addition, high profile panelists helped to unpack the possibilities for alliance building with non-LGBTI groups and challenge participants to re-invent their approaches. Over 4 days of engagement, everyone’s voice counted.

We present this report about the inputs and outcomes of kopano FREEDOM FOR ALL in the same spirit – not as a scripted narrative but in the form of a collection of voices of the participants themselves. Click here to view real time recordings of the plenary discussions and summaries of the outcomes of this historic gathering.

Other Logo

TT1087/2013 / Hugo CANHAM [South Africa] | Miguel DE BRITO [Mozambique] | Isabella MATAMBANADZO [Zimbabwe]
Alice MOGWE [
Botswana] | Xhanti PAYI [South Africa] | Shaun SAMUELS [South Africa]
Patricia WATSON [
South Africa] | Neville GABRIEL (CEO)

Copyright © 2015 – The Other Foundation. All rights reserved.
Contact us at
info@theotherfoundation.org | www.theotherfoundation.org

post

Sixteen Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Children

Sixteen Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Children:

“Commit. Act. Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women” A Pastoral Letter

Greetings

During these days of the 16 days campaign against violence on women and children the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) brings you greetings. The political and traditional leaders of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), the Ecumenical Movement in KZN, the churches and communities, let us “Commit .Act. Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women”. This in the international theme of the 16 Days Campaign. Let us join international communities to seek to end violence against women and children

What is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign?

“The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre” (www.cwgl.rutgers.edu/16days/about.html)

Callousness of Some Men, Stigma and Discrimination

The scourge of HIV and the callousness of some men pose a challenge together with stigma and discrimination in the context we are facing. One of the major challenges which demand the attention of all concerned is that of stigma and discrimination.

“Stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction and mis-action (SSDDIM) are six related evils that continue to either frustrate or slow down our HIV&AIDS prevention, care, and treatment, and impact mitigation efforts” (Gideon). Seemingly, it is women who feel the shame and isolation of blame and stigmatisation. Insufficient action on the side of communities does not help purge the pain of SSDDIM.

Active participation and involvement of men such as ministers or pastors, elders,

deacons, traditional leaders, political leaders, fathers, brothers and boys is long over due. If men can lead by example, by caring for the sick, caring for women and the girl child, perhaps a transformed and fairly equal society may emerge sooner than expected. The ‘Good Samaritan’ in the Bible (Lk. 10: 25 – 37) went out of his way to help and care for a wounded person. He transported him to a place of care. And he paid for his care – a person he did not know at all. Can’t we take and example?

What is the Purpose of 16 Days Campaign

“The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

  • raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
    • strengthening local work around violence against women
  • establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
    • providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
    • demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
  • creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against” (cwgl.rutgers.edu/16days/about.html)

Some Encouraging Themes and Slogans in Relation to 16 Days, World Aids Day and International Human Rights Day

In very recent days we have heard some encouraging themes and slogans urging us to keep on going on in our campaign against violence on women and children in the context of World Aids Day and International Human Rights day which read: “Wherever you are, whenever you work, you can make a difference”; “I don’t suffer with HIV, I live with it”; Right to health; I am accepted; I am living my rights and I am getting treatment.

The world cannot be complacent in tackling the issues of violence against women, HIV and AIDS and universal human rights. It has become much more compelling that the governments of the world, pharmaceutical companies, the health sector, religious communities and the business sector join hands more, partner and have a united effort to commit themselves to end violence against women, the scourge of HIV, abuse of human rights and seek to achieve the ideals of the millennium goals.

Call to Act, Pray and Preach

We call and encourage all actors to take their rightful position in the fight against violence against women and children, the challenges of HIV and AIDS and demand human rights for all. The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) is committed to concrete social action to engage the issues of violence, HIV and human rights all the time and all the way.

May this year’s campaign develop into a year long campaign especially as we prepare for the World Cup in 2010. Let us ensure that women and children know their rights and feel safe in all the corners of South Africa.

Yours in Ecumenism Confession and prayer

Isaiah 5:8a,12a, 18a, 20-22; 10:1-2; 58,6-7

Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you…

Ah, you who rise early in the morning in pursuit of strong drink, who linger in the evening to be inflamed by wine. but who do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands!

Ah, you who drag iniquity along with cords of falsehood, who drag sin along as with cart ropes.

Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light

for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight!

Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who

acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn

aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right,

that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey!

Ah you! Ah you!

LORD’S PRAYER (Congregation divided in 2)

A: Our Father in Heaven B: Incarnated in all those who suffer A: Hallowed be your name

B: And all the names that you mysteriously reveal yourself in.

A: Your kingdom come

B: In our midst, secretly hidden

A: Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

B: Make us tools of your good news to the poor!

A: Give us today our daily bread

B: May we never celebrate a single meal or Eucharist without remembering all those who do not have enough to eat.

A: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

B: Make us see and both structural and individual sin.

A: Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil

B: The force that threaten to destroy our world and your creation A: For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours B: The power to challenge, transform and heal A/B: Now and forever. Amen.

(Lord’s prayer adapted by Rev Gyrid Gunnes, Norway)

post

Pastoral Statement On Zimbabwe World Day Of Action On Zimbabwe

Pastoral Statement On Zimbabwe World Day Of Action On Zimbabwe, 25 MAY 2008

The KwaZulu-Natal Council of Churches and the entire ecumenical movement in KZN, joins the rest of the world in embarking on a series of actions that highlight the continued deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe and expressing our continued solidarity with our neighbours.

In journeying with the people of Zimbabwe, we had hoped and prayed for the elections of 29 March 2008 to be the beginning of the end of corruption, abuse of power, violence, social, political and economic woes that have faced this once great nation. Our hearts are heavy laden because this has not been so. Rather, we have seen a sharp rise in politically motivated violence directed at those who are perceived to have voted against President Mugabe and his ZANU PF. Homes have been burnt down, granaries and food have been destroyed. Women have been raped. Children are denied education. Some schools have closed down and teachers have fled from schools in fear of violence. Some people are beaten stopped from attending worship services. The sick and wounded have no access to hospitals. Some hospitals, including church mission hospitals, have closed down.

This is not the will of God. If anything, those who hold power in Zimbabwe have decided to go against God. Their actions show beyond doubt that they have no concerns for the Kingdom of God where people aspire to be peace makers, where the kingdom is opened to those who mourn, and to those who are poor. The actions of those in power exhibit the marks of the anti-Christ. As a Church, called to proclaim good news and to lead people into the Kingdom that Christ ushered, we rebuke the heartlessness of the perpetrators of this violence, and call upon the members of ZANU PF and President Mugabe and his government to repent.

We are concerned also about the lack of honesty and integrity that our own South African government has shown in the aftermath of the elections. We urge them to be at the forefront of truth telling about Zimbabwe to the world and to the Zimbabweans. The truth will set us free, both us and the Zimbabweans.

To the people of Zimbabwe, we join with you in the call for an immediate end to violence; for the creation of an environment conducive to a free and fair rerun of the presidential elections on 27 June; for the presence of local and international peace and election monitors. We assure you of our prayers and solidarity all the way through this nightmare.

May Justice and Peace prevail!

Rev Phumzile Zondi-Mabizela Chief Executive Officer

Proposed Prayer

Dear God, our creator, guide and protector,

We come to you in prayer and with hearts full of gratitude for the beautiful country and people of Zimbabwe.

We are mindful, however, of the difficult political situation they are facing.

We pray that you will demonstrate your presence in Zimbabwe.

Give new strength and courage to the people so that they may face the challenges of a difficult situation. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a might stream.

We pray that you will remove the hearts of stone from the leaders, so that they may be freed from their

own fears, hunger for power and control.

We pray for peace and political stability in Zimbabwe.

We pray that international leaders intervene and ensure speedy solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Lord, the people of Zimbabwe are desperate for change, for good governance and for better life. We pray that the South African Government offer more practical solutions than quiet diplomacy. We pray that South Africans treat their African brothers and sisters as fellow humans.

We pray for good leadership, justice, peace and order and security in Zimbabwe.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

post

Pastoral Letter on World Aids Day 2010

29 November 2010

Member Churches and the Ecumenical Movement in KZN Greetings

During this day of the celebration of World Aids Day, KZNCC is addressing the issues of HIV and AIDS under the global theme of ‘Universal Access and Human Rights and the national theme which says: ‘We are Responsible’. These themes re-emphasize the fact that HIV and AIDS are also issues of human rights for which all of us are responsible to strive for.

KZNCC has produced and is providing a SAVE prevention poster for use during the activities of World Aids Day and beyond. You are encouraged to use the poster as far and wide as possible. Remember those who have lost their lives and those who have continued to provide care and support.

Yours in the Ecumenical Movement in KZN

Rev P Zondi-Mabizela

Chief Executive Officer: KZNCC

post

A Pastoral Letter on the Presidential Succession Debate

A Pastoral Letter on the Presidential Succession Debate

To the Province of KwaZulu-Natal Christian and Civil Communities and to the Nation of South Africa

26 November 2007

Introduction

Pastoral greetings from the Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC). This pastoral letter seeks to inform the people of KwaZulu- Natal (KZN) on what the church perceives could be confusing concerning the political climate on the eve of the ANC conference at Polokwane, Limpopo province in the month of December 2007. This letter seeks to spell out what could be a dangerous for the development of democracy post ANC conference.

In this pastoral letter, the churches seek to outline what could be the desired outcome in the future of democracy and political leadership post Polokwane conference. Ideally, the churches are concerned about the character, the quality and the principles churches would like see as the outcome of the Limpopo ANC conference. As far as it is possible the churches would not like to entangle herself in the political dynamics of the ANC but to suggest what could be the nature of an amicable and inclusive future for the unity and prosperity on out nation.

A series of meetings has been conducted in response to the call from the South African Council of Churches (SACC) for churches to speak out on the type of leadership we would like to see in church and society from a theological perspective. In the meting which was held in KZN it came forth that the type of leadership we are envisaging should be people who are commanding respectable statesmanship and could rise above political ideological inclinations and serve the whole nation indiscriminately and unify it.

Aspects of Qualities of Any Leadership

The churches are looking for a person who accommodates and encourages open debate, one who is not vindictive, who has moral fortitude, has genuine concern for the poor and is down to earth. The meaning of these aspects of leadership is that: “Statesmanship: … involves a capacity to see beyond personal or party interests, and to have a genuine concern for all people everywhere. Moral fortitude: … implies a high standard of ethical behaviour, whether private or public, and a willingness to pursue this standard with courage, even in adversity. A genuine concern for the poor: this is a vital quality for any worthwhile leader in this country currently, where the levels of poverty are still unacceptably high. Finally, a belief in debate: this looks for a readiness within the African National Congress to welcome candid discussion on national issues, with a tolerance of disagreement”.

The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) held a discussion on the ANC presidential debate on the 20th November 2007. We would like to share some of the issues which we raised in the meeting.

Some of the Issues Emerging from the Debate about “the leader we want” Include that we want to have:

  • A leader that will make democracy work for all people in spite of their status.
  • A leader with integrity, who will allow debates (was reiterated), with good morals and ethics, who is not self-centred, who can take blame without pushing it to someone else, a leader with value.
  • A leader that can rise above the party-political arena.
  • A leader that can unite South Africans.
  • A leader that will strengthen democracy.
  • A leader that will uplift the poor and those who are suffering.
  • A leader who cares for people and is chosen by them.
  • A leader, people – especially the poor can identify with.
  • A leader that will adhere to the Freedom Charter.
  • A leader who will take South Africans to the global context.
  • A leader who may not have all the above mentions qualities but who is prepared to develop them.
  • A leader who can change our poverty to prosperity
  • A leader who is transparent, accountable and morally upright

In this meeting of the churches discussing the question of leadership qualities, it was said the people who are poor in rural areas have yet to taste the new found freedom and democracy. The rural poor have not touched the freedom. Justice for the poor is inaccessible. Seemingly the rich get justice and the poor are denied it. The leader the poor are looking for is one who will listen to their voice; one who will fight and stop corruption especially one issuing out tenders. It was also said that South Africa needs a leader who can discern the voice of God and listen to the voice of the people as well. A leader who can deal with crime and be a touch- bearer of the nation. A leader who commands national and international respect who is caring for people in freedom and responsibility. A leader who can hold the nation together and nurture human relationships and one who can think nationally and internationally.

It was muted out that the churches need a leader who will sincerely deal with poverty, HIV/AIDS, unemployment, housing and tolerate no abuse against women and children. A leader who does not personalize the issues of the nation, who can accept constructive criticism and critique and deal with high levels of crime. South Africa needs a leader who can strengthen democracy, uphold democratic principle, build the economy, distributes the gains of the economy and champion the course of the poor and the suffering. The country needs a leader who shall be in solidarity with the poor and continuously work for peace painstakingly.

What May Bring Confusion Among the People?

The churches want to warm people about issues which may bring confusion and derail us from out good intention in entering the presidential race’s debate. It is apparent that according to the Constitution of the country Mbeki must leave office in 2009. The Constitution of the ANC is mute in this matter. If Mbeki is elected for the third term in the ANC we might enter a debate of his third term in government already in 2008. If he does hold the power in the ANC, we may end up with two power centres, one being the President of the country elected by the and an opposing President of the ANC in the person of Mr Thabo Mbeki. This country may find that this scenario may slow down any development, and delivery of services.

The role of the media could swing things in the positive and at times to the undesired negative. In his input, Prof T S Maluleke, the President of SACC says about the role of media: “.Are we speaking against the exposure of corruption and ineptitude on the part of the politicians? Are we asking for out politicians to be treated with kid gloves? Are we asking for our media to be lame and hagiographical about our politics and politicians? By no means. We are speaking against being served carefully orchestrated and carefully selected dirt masquerading as truth. We are speaking against co-option into the web of vindictiveness and acrimony that seems to rule our political sphere. We would like to appeal to all people who are participating in this orgy of mudslinging to stop – whether they are politicians or journalists. This is not what our freedom is about. This is not the political freedom we fought for. This is not the press freedom fit for our democracy”

What happens if Mr J Zuma becomes President of both the ANC and of South Africa in 2009 and the pending court case of his alleged corruption is opened. People may not want to speculate for now. Whilst writing this pastoral letter it is reported that most of the ANC branches including the women’s league which the public was told till now that it was pro-Mbeki has also voted for Jacob Zuma. Seemingly Zuma is leading the race by a reasonable margin so far. And the press is suggesting that this pattern of voting will not change much at the Polokwane conference.

What May be Some Danger Points Embedded in this Debate?

One serious danger point is the use of a tribal card to try to gets votes for the presidency and membership of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC). The tribal card is most likely to divide the ANC South Africa as a country. The other danger point is the use and abuse state power and resources to sustain a political career and to vilify political opponents both in the party, outside the party, in the press and society at large. One of the journalist has lamented: “… When the news broke that the SABC had a blacklist of certain commentators, I said any state that blacklists its citizens is only a step away from assassinating them”.

If peace and accord is not sealed before the December 2007, Polokwane conference whatever result we have from their will not ameliorate fierce rivalry and factionalism. The politics of vengeance and disgrace will continue. Petty picketing and political goal scoring tactics will make cosmetic the serious need to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the economic policies of the country, cosmetic concerns about Zimbabwe, the politics of the arms-deal and travel-gate scandals to quote a few. A culture of dissent will to thrive and will drive the state to be defensive and dictatorial.

Some Desired Outcomes of the Polokwane Conference

One desired outcome is to do away with the Floor Crossing legislation and to incorporate the Scorpions into the South African Police Services albeit with the same mandate so that they are not subject and vulnerable to abuse and misuse by the state though our highest office of the police is suspected to have some connections with the international underground crime syndicates. This must be purged and corrected very soon.

We would desire the entire leadership of the ANC, the country, civil society, faith based communities and political parties to support the ruling leadership and keep the on their toes and cause them to account for governing the country. We would desire an economic policy that will transform poverty to prosperity for all. We shall desire the retention of independent state institutions. Life must go on after Polokwane.

Some of the Challenges Facing the Church and to be Faced by the Church Include the Following:

The church has to be clear about an agenda to drive in relation to transformation of people’s lives.

The church itself must open up to issues and questions of good governance and good leadership.

The church must widen discussions on morality, ethics and value systems.

The church has to be more visible, and should be forthright in its prophetic and pastoral functions.

The church has to pray for the government.

The church is not the enemy for the government.

The church leadership has to speak out to the government authorities about good governance and good leadership.

The church should minister to leaders, regardless of their political affiliation and religious orientation.

The Call to Exercise Maturity and Integrity

Church leaders called upon all South Africans to exercise caution and maturity when making public statements regarding the succession debate to ensure that their participation in the debate is not divisive and destructive.

They also called on all churches to set aside some time these coming weeks to offer special prayers on behalf of our country, our government and our leaders, for God’s special undertaking on the presidential succession debate and processes before, during and after the Polokwane ANC conference.

The outcome of this “Succession Debate Seminar from the Perspective of the Churches” was that churches started engaging on this debate, prayed for peace, stability, guidance and smooth processes, had an opportunity to listen to the voices from communities and church leadership as well as from Christians leading other political parties. KZNCC is facilitating continued discussions and debate at local level in Ladysmith, Eshowe, Durban, Edendale, Portshepstone and Amanzimtoti. In these gatherings, a pastoral letter containing a theological vision around “the leadership we want” will be distributed for discussion.

post

A Pastoral Letter on Elections: 2009

Introductory Greetings

The KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), the ecumenical movement in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), the Church leadership of KZN, at this hour of the electioneering period in KZN brings you greetings and encouragement through this pastoral letter on elections in KZN and South Africa, 2009. The purpose of the pastoral letter, addressed to member churches and the entire population of KZN, is to support legitimate democratic processes around elections which assimilate the general principles and images of the reign of God in our time and the contemplated future of the peace and justice of God.

It is this estimation of the future of God that inspires us to engage the world to realise the gift of freedom which God has given us in God’s sacrifice on the cross for all humanity. This we want to express in the very fragile context of the dynamics of our present political situation in the province of KZN. This pastoral letter is structured in this manner. It commences with a historical description of where we have been to where we are politically, socially, culturally and economically in KZN.

On the basis of the backdrop and historical achievements and failures the faithful and the people of KZN are reminded about the principles of a prosperous and free democracy. When that shall have been expatiated we then look at the present political situation and suggest what the role of the people of faith and people of KZN can jointly and severally do and conclude what the envisaged out comes of these national and provincial elections of 2009. With this we greet you all. The peace of God is with you all.

Executive Summary

Conservatively the province of KwaZulu Natal has tasted relative peace and prosperity at least in the past despite the spoliations of experienced crime and corruption. The people of faith and the people of KZN must defend the democratic freedoms and the achievement we have made especially when it comes to elections times where most of these freedoms are susceptible to abuse and violation. The present’s political violent upheavals must be contained and bracketed immediately in cooperation with law enforcement agencies. The rule of law at this time of elections must be upheld. And this pastoral letter ends by suggesting our expectations of the outcomes of these elections in terms of the leadership we are looking forward to – people of political will who will seriously honor their promises to the poor and the voters.

History and Background in View of KwaZulu Natal

In comparison to all the past successive elections the political climate of province of KwaZulu Natal has gradually shown some relative stability. It has been acknowledged, that there has been a growing political maturity among the peoples and many political parties in our province. The levels of political tolerance especially between the elections’ periods have been recognizably moderate and yet relatively fragile.

Besides the questions of the alleged rise in crime and corruption, there has been some sizable growth in the economy and attempts were made to share the economic
opportunities of the province with its entire people though unsatisfactorily. Needless to say that there have been incidents of chauvinism and sexism, KZN was involved in seeking solutions to these cultural and gender imbalances.

The province of KZN has been responsive to the natural disasters – floods, storms and felt-fires which weighed down upon our province. Though none of these responses may be deemed sufficient – it would be unreasonable to say that they have not been any responsiveness on the part of the people of KZN.

In view of this historical backdrop we call upon the people of faith to pray for the continuation of the political, economic, cultural and religious stabilization of our province. We call upon all of us to pursue the path of righteousness and justice for all especially the poor, the homeless and the landless among us. We implore the potential incoming powers that would be to built on the achievements of the past and have courage to take on the challenges of the past and the future with political will informed by justice for the poor and marginalised – translated quality service delivery all the time and every time.

Principles of a Prosperous and Free Democracy

What are at stake are the foundations or principles of a prosperous and successful democracy. After naming some, this letter would like to quote the ones which are most vulnerable in the light of the current and emerging political violence in KZN as we approach the 2009 elections. In tabulation these principles are: citizen participation, equality, political tolerance, accountability, transparency, regular free and fair elections, accepting the results of elections, economic freedom, control and the abuse of power, bill of rights, human rights, multiparty system and the rule of law.

Though these principles are potentially vulnerable at various stages of governance, the ones which are particularly at risk around times and events towards actual election will be quote: Citizen Participation[I] says: All citizens of a country have a right and duty to participate in government. For example, they can stand for elections, vote in elections, debate issues, attend community meetings, and pay taxes”. Lest we forget we encourage all faith communities and people of the province of KZN to desist from any activity and utterances and schemes which may impede any of the citizens to enjoy the right to citizen participation as quoted above.

The other principle most vulnerable should we allow the climate of political violence to escalate unbridled is on political tolerance which says: “People from different cultures, religions, and beliefs and so on all have different points of view. Everyone must be allowed to express their own ideas even if these are different from the majority” (ibid.). Is this not a noble thing to do – ‘to agree to differ and differ to agree’ – or ‘do to others as you would like them to do’ without fear of reprimand, harassment, intimidation and physical violence?

The other vulnerable principle, exposed to be trampled down is one on regular, free and fair elections which says: “Citizens choose the officials they want to represent them in

government. These officials must be elected in a free and fair way, without corruption. No one should be intimidated or threatened during and election. There must also be regular elections” (ibid.). We welcome the point that we have regular elections on South Africa and KZN enjoys that as well. What we deplore as informed by this principle under discussion, is when people deliberately plan to intimidate and threaten others.

We abhor anyone who hinders others in anyway from exercising their political freedom for the realization of free and fair elections. Informed by this we call upon people of faith and the people of KZN to participate in these elections, attend meetings, register to vote and actually go to vote on the day to be announce without fear of intimidation and threats. In this instance we implore the people of faith and the people of KZN to cooperate with our law enforcement institutions to bring the perpetrators of violence and mayhem to book.

This will be in accordance to the principle of the rule of law which is also threatened by perpetrators which says: “The rule of law which says that everyone in the country, including government officials, the President, the army, must follow the law. No one is above the law. It means everyone must obey the law and must be punished for their actions if they disobey the law. The law must treat everyone equally and fairly” (ibid.). There is no way we can build a prosperous and free democracy by tolerating lawlessness.

Present Events and Proposed Suggestions

In the present time of electioneering, many political parties have articulated their election manifestos. Many political parties have signed or and must be subjected to the Electoral Code of Conduct. The whole country is a free platform for attracting would be voters for the parties of choice. There are meetings, rallies, press conference, interviews, debates and house to house electioneering. All this is good and must be done in the spirit of joy, good will and responsible citizenship. There should be no go areas for anyone in the whole country including KZN.

We propose people of good will of faith and peace loving encourage free and unfettered electioneering. We promote the leveling of the political electioneering ground and patriotism among those who will vote or be voted for despite being, independents or people nominated by various political parties. We discourage acts of arson, physical violence, hate speech, intimidation, murder of political opponents, blockages of routes to rallies, character assassinations and related undemocratic political practices and unacceptable tactics. The disruption of others’ meetings and conferences should be discouraged as well.

Expected Outcomes of the Elections

Aspects of Qualities of Any Leadership

The churches are looking for a person who accommodates and encourages open debate, one who is not vindictive, who has moral fortitude, has genuine concern for the poor and is down to earth. The meaning of these aspects of leadership is that: “Statesmanship: … involves a capacity to see beyond personal or party interests, and to have a genuine concern for all people everywhere. Moral fortitude: . implies a high standard of ethical

behavior, whether private or public, and a willingness to pursue this standard with courage, even in adversity. A genuine concern for the poor: this is a vital quality for any worthwhile leader in this country currently, where the levels of poverty are still unacceptably high …” (pastoral letter on Succession Debate, 2007).

Out of these elections of 2009, we are looking forward to democratically elected leadership in KZN and South Africa as a whole.

We must have an outcome bearing and authentic stamp of ‘free and fair’ elections.

We are looking forward to a leadership freely chosen by the people of KZN and South Africa as a whole – a leadership we can proudly say it is ours – the people of this country.

We are expecting a leadership we may engage on delivery of social services and the promises of their elections manifestos without fear of reprimand and irresponsiveness.

We are pregnant of a leadership which will listen to the people and is compassionate to the plight of the poor and rural development especially where women are struggling solely on their own.

We are envisioning a leadership with the political will to tackle issues of poverty, unemployment, SADC challenges and of international profile.

We want people who will make democracy work for the majority of the people of KZN South Africa as a whole.

Notwithstanding that when the elections results are announced all of us should accept them and should any of it be challenged leave it to the due process and legislative, legal framework to double check and sort out the obstacles for us while we keep calm and peace as law abiding citizens under the rule of law.

Issued by KZNCC

Reference Cited

Human Rights Training Manual (sin anon)

Pastoral Letter on Succession Debate. KZNCC: Pietermaritzurg, 2007.

[I] Human Rights Training Manual (sin anon).

post

Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence

“Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women”

A Pastoral Letter of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council

Dear friends, colleagues, member organisations and churches of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), the entire Ecumenical Movement in KwaZuluNatal (KZN) and the people of the province of KZN, greetings.

The time and days dedicated for the campaign on ‘No Violence Against Women and Children’ has come – 25 November to 10 December 2010. The theme for this 2010 campaign is ‘Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women’. The campaign now calls us to take the struggle and conscientising of peoples on ‘No Violence Against Women and Children’ to the structures and corridors which sustain the abuse of women and children – physically by rape, battering and murder; emotionally through verbal abuse, debasement, hauling, yelling and harrowing.

As our new song Awuyeke says ‘Stop it’. We must stop sexual harassment and psychological repression of women and children. We need to bring to an end, child exploitation and human trafficking. We need to continue to unite and form partnerships to respond actively throughout the whole year against abuse of women and children in structures and institutions such as the home, schools, the justice system, hospitals and places of entertainment where women and children are exposed to possibilities of violence and abuse. It is indeed very stressful, upsetting, vexing and distressing for women and children to suffer such ordeals everyday of their lives. All members of society, women and men, children, people with disabilities, the elderly and marginalised minorities must break the silence of this trauma and distress. This pain, sorrow, misery and unhappiness must be purged from our homes, communities and institutions as a matter of urgency.

Notwithstanding that certain forms of culture, religion and sexism have been vehicles of unpleasant ideas which over the years have perpetuated the sufferings, exclusion, oppression, and dishonour of women and children. Culture as a construct of historically repressive patriarchal societies in relation to its degradation of women and children must be held critically when it continues to imbibe ideas such as the notion of the inferiority of women against men based on gender or sexual differences. Some form of religion as one cultural expression which promotes the defilement, shame and humiliation of women in particular like this following prayer according to rabbinical custom: “… to thank God daily, as a man, that you had not been born a woman, slave or foreigner …” which is disgustingly, sexist, oppressive, xenophobic and racist must be opposed. Such religious practices must have no haven in modern society and the democracies which seek the rights of women and children.

The emancipation of women and children is a ‘Human Right’ and a Constitutional obligation which all people must uphold, protect and defend. All people, women and children included have a right to peace, love, security and wellbeing. In order for humanity including women and children to progress further than where we are now in terms of world progress the following findings of the Unicef report (2007) must be made known and followed through:

“Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand. Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development. Gender equality produces a double dividend: It benefits both women and children. Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will better the lives of children, families and countries as well. Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape their lives and those of children must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household, the workplace and the political sphere”.

“A change for the better in any one of these realms influences women’s equality in the others, and has a profound and positive impact on child’s well-being and development. Gender equality is not only morally right, it is pivotal to human progress and sustainable development. Achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 3—promoting gender equality and empowering women—will also contribute to achieving all the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability”.

Humanity must realise now that the oppression and violence against women and children holds back advancement and progress. It has already been articulated elsewhere that poverty and inequality go hand-in-hand. Poverty and inequality are inseparable. The political, economic, cultural, religious and social exclusion of women and children stifles human attempts to fight poverty and inequality. The marginalisation and violence against women and children suffocates the civil liberties we so much desire. Humanity must now wake up to the fact that the incarceration of women is no emancipation of humanity – that the freedom of all people cannot be realised fully until women and children enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities, in a world where all humanity holds with dignity all peoples despite of gender and age.

Also remember that: “Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young,111 including their right to association with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child.121 Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, [ ]. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing” (Wikipedia).131

In closer, beloved, let us go out there and support the ’16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children’. It is a noble thing to do during these 16 Days as mentioned earlier and beyond – meaning, every day of our lives.

Chief Executive Officer

post

Pastoral letter for the Zimbabwe elections

A PLEA FOR PRAYERS OF SOLIDARITY FOR THE ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS

20 March 2008

The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) and its member churches and organisations are concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe especially in relation to the elections scheduled for 29 March 2008. The worsening socio-political and economic situation of Zimbabwe has long been observed with alarm. The forthcoming elections need to be a turning point for the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

Delegation

Under the leadership of Bishop Rubin Phillip, Chairperson of KZNCC, a group of eminent persons has been recruited to pay a solidarity visit to Zimbabwe in this time of agitation and confusion. As they set out on this mission on behalf of the churches of KwaZulu-Natal on 25 March, we invite all our people to pray that they may be able to bring strength and comfort to the Zimbabwean people. The delegation will return on 31 March and their report will be made public as soon as possible thereafter.

Context

Among the candidates contesting the presidential elections, President Robert Mugabe is seeking election for a sixth term. The political situation in Zimbabwe is tense. The economy is chaotic. People are full of anxiety and fear about the threat of violence. Acts of intimidation, torture, assault and abuse of human rights continue. There is great concern that the playing field for the election is uneven.

Request for Prayers

Over this Easter weekend and thereafter, there is an urgent need for prayers for a free and fair election, peace and stability, freedom of movement and association, and an absence of violence both during and after the elections, when the results are announced. Prayers are requested for a change of political leadership and the ushering in of a new era of respect for human rights, justice, human dignity and the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy. And that the people of Zimbabwe may be able to rally around a new leadership and give them the support and cooperation they need for the reconstruction of the country and of its people’s dignity.

Bishop R Phillip Chairperson: KZNCC

Prayer for Zimbabwe (Excerpt from a Liturgy of Prayers of Zimbabwe – Modified by KZNCC)

God our heavenly Lord,

You have given all people one common origin,

And your will is to gather them as one family in harmony.

We pray that the Zimbabwean elections may be free from violence and intimidation, and that the observers from many nations may be able to do their work with honesty and security.

Lord, the people of Zimbabwe are desperate for change.

We pray that the elections may lead to a change of leadership and bring justice, peace and order to the country.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

post

Pastoral Letter IsiZulu Version for Local Government elections June 2012

Incwadi evela emabandleni abumbene ngokhetho :18 KuNhlaba 2011

Sibingelela umphakathi wonke waKwaZulu-Natal

Sekuphonde kwaba yileso sikhathi sonyaka futhi lapho sizophonsa khona amavoti ethu sikhetha ubuholi bohulumeni basekhaya, naso isifundazwe saKwaZulu- Natal asisincinyane kunezinye. Kokwedlule I KZN ikhombise ubungqwele kwezombusazwe ngendlela emangazayo. Lokhu asikukhombisanga eNingizimu Afrika kuphela kodwa umhlaba wonke ukuthi noma sehluliwe noma siphumelele okhethweni kodwa siyakwazi ukwamukela imiphumela yokhetho siqhubeke nempilo. Isebenza kanjlo vele intando yeningi.

Manje ke sibhekene nomsebenzi oyinselelo kwezombusazwe ukuba siye eziteshini zokuvota siyovota sikhethe abaholi esibafunayo. Ukubhalisela ukuvota kusho ukuthi simelwe ukuthatha igxathu elilandelayo elingukuya ukovota ngobuningi bethu. Yiyona ndlela leyo esingenza ngayo ukuthi intando yeningi isisebenzele emiphakathini yethu. Masiye eziteshini sivote ngobukhulu ubuchule lobu ukuze sizakhele amathuba entuthuko emiphakathini yethu.

Kufanele siphinde sikhombise ukuthi singumphakathi oluthandayo uxolo. Simelwe ukukhombisa ukuzinikela esinakho ngobuholi bomphakathi wethu sikwenze lokhu ngokuvota ngendlela enoxolo. Imiphakathi yethu ifanelwe ukwenganyelwa uxolo nokuthula nokuzinikela okuphelele kwintando yeningi yethu. Akekho okufanele asilele ngemuva ekwenzeni lengqophamlando kwintando yeningi yethu. Njengalokhu sinxenxa abaholi bethu ukuba nabo bazibophezele ngokufanayo ekwenzeni ukhetho lwethu lube ngolukhululekile noluneqiniso. Simelwe ukubenza abaholi bethu bazi ukuthi kufanele bazilande phambi kwethu futhi njengomphakathi ngendlela abaziphathe ngayo ngesikhathi sokhetho loHulumeni basemakhaya.

Sonke simelwe ukuba yisibonelo esihle ekuhlonipheni izinhlaka zokhetho ngokuluphatha ngendlela enesithunzi nehloniphekileyo. Silangazelela kakhulu isikhathi sokhetho esinokuthula noxolo. Siyakholwa ukuthi iNkosi izosibusisela ngalesi sikhathi sokhetho nangemuva kwaso isiphe futhi namathamsanqa kwisifundazwe sethu esisithandayo iKwaZulu- Natal

Yithina abenu ebunyeni bamabandla

Fully endorsed by: KwaZulu-Natal Democracy and Election Forum; KwaZuLu-Natal Christian Council; Democracy Development Programme; KwaZulu Regional Christian Council; Diakonia Council of Churches; Young Men’s Christian Association; Southern KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council; Midlands Christian Council, Thukela -Amajuba-Mzinyathi Christian Council; Community Based Organisations Coalition

For more information contact: Dr L M Ngoetjana

 

post

Solutions to the Impasse of Xenophobia

A Pastoral Letter Examining Suggestions for Addressing Some of the Possible Solutions to the Impasse of Xenophobia in South Africa and Exploitation in Several Contexts: A Quest for Balance and Redress for Both the South African and Zimbabwean Poor

29 May 2008

Texts: Eph. 2: 19 – 21; Deut. 24: 17 – 22; 10: 17 – 19; I Peter 2: 11 – 17

Greetings to the poor and homeless, informal settlement dwellers, the unemployed and underemployed, sojourners, citizens, legal and illegal refugees, refugee status seeking people of God, asylum seekers, our neighbors from African and other continents, sisters and brothers, children of God, population of South Africa. This pastoral letter from the Ecumenical Movement and Civic Society Organisations of the Province of KwaZulu- Natal has you in mind after the aftermath of the dubbed xenophobic attacks which spread like wild fire in many parts of South Africa in the past two weeks or even few months of the mid-year 2008. Peace, Mercy, Goodwill and the Justice of God abide with you.

Introduction: It is our belief that “the church, in response to Jesus’ teachings, must foster human progress – progress not understood solely in terms of economic and technological advances, but in terms of fostering full human potential (i.e., social, cultural, and spiritual)”. Over the years the church has tracked and traced world conflicts to the root cause of poverty, and has always advocated for proper development as a means of peace” (Pope Paul VI, additions mine).

The emergence of the dubbed xenophobic attacks has been in our view demonstrably and verbally rejected by many in South Africa and the world and rightly so. These incidents were rightly called a disgrace and were condemned as unacceptable here in South Africa and elsewhere in a ‘civilized’ world. An apology has been extended and accordingly we pray for the victims to emerge strong beyond these incidents and the perpetrators to forgive themselves and realise how they could have been used by the circumstances and conditions in which they found themselves and reacted in a way that when looking back may see that there could have been some better way of addressing the situation than to use violence, arson, murder, rape, clubbing and inflicting wounds on fellow neighbors.

This pastoral letter seeks to bring consolation and peace and yet probe this matter in terms of unleashing and examination of probable suggestions towards the amelioration of the situation.

Quest to Combat Injustice: “In the churches quest to combat injustice, there needs to be a focus on political action – not just economic action. Christian theology of justice encourages Christian communities, the entire society and local churches to apply gospel principles of justice to contemporary situations and take appropriate political action” (Pope Paul VI, additions mine). “Justice is an essential ingredient to the liberation of human beings – not to mention a key expression of Christian love”. Injustice can be understood as discrimination and marginalization of migrants and refugees, local poor working class, homeless, unemployed and underemployed sub-classes, including human rights violations, like we see rampant in the new South Africa, torture of humans by other humans, political imprisonment by ruling powers, chasing away and isolation of the poor in shacks and plastic houses, denying them of the right to education, skills acquisition, job opportunities and access to adequate resources.

Confession: Pastoral letters of this nature in normal circumstances are produced with patience, thorough and wide consultations. It shall be understood that the situation in which we find ourselves as the ecumenical movement and civil society organisations compelled us to call a provincial consultation which was attended by 70 representatives from 35 organisations across the province of KwaZulu-Natal to ponder and prophesy upon the matter of the resurgence of xenophobia in South Africa.

We were reminded that such xenophobic actions result in racial and tribal tensions which some ended with genocide elsewhere in Africa and Europe. It was the urgency of the realization of the seriousness of the situation and the probable repercussions of the actions of our people that we had to attend to this as a matter of urgency. In our mind we ponder the causative factors of such xenophobic manifestations as much bigger than local manifestations of this ‘black-on-black’ violence as it would be spuriously perceived from other perspectives.

When the poor want to really understand the causative factors of such manifestations, they are often told that they will not understand. The poor are often told, understanding certain discourse is supposedly a preserve of the experts and the educated. This pastoral letter challenges the poor of Zimbabwe and South Africa to apply their minds to this and begin to ask themselve thought provoking questions as to what happened to the beautiful neighborliness that existed before the explosion of this violence. What is it that we believed and now see it was false? How do we jointly redress it? And so on.

As the church, the ecumenical movement and civil society organisations we confess our failure to keep on reading the signs of the times. It was as if the ushering of the new democracy was the end of times. We forgot to keep on reading the sighs which were so glaring that we regret we have become part of the cause of this evil because of not doing good when the actions of destruction were so showing. The kind of policies that were adopted by both the South African and the Zimbabwean governments were supposed to have been resisted not only with submissions of suggestions for amendments but including public protest and civil disobedience at least on our part.

We confess, we have not done our social analysis on a continuous basis as we were supposed to do. We spoke about doing social analysis, but we never came to really do it to help our new found freedom to make amends where it was going drastically wrong. I would guise the same was the case with the divided voices of the churches and civil society organisations of Zimbabwe. The Lord forgive us.

We collectively have not done our needs and skills audit as we always thought it was the work of government. Trusting that the government and business are tackling the issues of poverty eradication, wealth distribution, fairness, equality and freedom of economy, we have bamboozled ourselves. Look where we are now 14 years in the democratic dispensation?

Contexts: Drawing parallels between Zimbabwe and South Africa in the present context we observe how physical political violence is inflicted upon the poor in Zimbabwe and the economic violence is imposed on the poor in South Africa. We observe how democracy and Constitutional processes have been undermined in Zimbabwe and how democracy and democratic institutions have failed the poor in South Africa.

We observe how the elite are exploiting scarce resources in Zimbabwe and how the politically connected few are enriched in South Africa. In both situations this is done by the politicians under pressure of their fellow Westerners at the expense of the poor. The margins of the cities of both countries are squalid; the rural areas are subjected to permanent and adverse poverty, all crammed in shanty towns and unproductive rural land, completely sidelined from competitive commercial farming and rendered paralyzed to magnanimous levels – its incredible.

How does one expect a people so squeezed and squashed not to imbibe jealousy, envy and self pity which regrettably translates in the manifestation of xenophobia? During the Industrial Revolutions, public authorities did not preserve, respect, promote and protect the rights of the poor and worker. So it is in our time. “In the era of the advancement of nuclear energy, automation, space exploration, and improved communication technologies new and complex problems were posed to industrial nations. Meanwhile millions lived in poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America as is the case today” (Ibid. Additions mine). So it has been but yet it is not divinely ordained. It is the project of the greed of the rich exploiting the labor and the vulnerability of the poor.

Poverty Exposure: It has already been alluded to, that in the past as it is indeed in the present, the churches have come to a conclusion that the root cause of world conflicts is poverty. Issues like xenophobia and so on are the manifestation of the pain of adverse poverty the people are subjected to, often for decades and centuries. It does happen that at times the easier target the poor communities would vent their anger on will be the weak in society or those they deem to be inferior and defenseless among them. On the other hand, the Poor’s response with violence is a form of mirroring their own economic, political and cultural inferiority. By attacking others psychologically it brings them a feeling of superiority and justification which in normal circumstances, is unfounded and misinformed.

About three years ago (2005) a group of church leaders went to visit poor homesteads in he province of KwaZuliu-Natal. The political leaders need to be exposed to what happened to this group of leaders mentally and morally, when we went to see poverty face to face. What did we go out to see? Poverty! Did we not know what it is? Have we not experienced it before? How fast did we forget that poverty is “…. characterized by the inability of individuals, households or communities to command sufficient resources to satisfy a socially acceptable minimum standard of living. Poverty is perceived by poor South Africans themselves to include alienation from community, food insecurity, crowded homes, usage of unsafe and inefficient forms of energy, lack of jobs that are adequately paid and/or secure, and fragmentation of the family. In contrast wealth is perceived to be characterized by good housing, the use of gas or electricity, and ownership of major durable goods such as a television set or fridge” (Poverty and Inequality 1998: 26).

Research has shown that 19 million people, just fewer than 50% of South Africans are poor. Unemployment is conservatively estimated at 40% able bodied persons. The monthly expenditure level of those who are employed is averagely estimated at R345 per adult equivalent. “Poverty, and its handmaid, inequality, in their myriad incarnations, are every where for all those with eyes to see .” Poverty and inequality go hand in hand.

One of the issues the church leaders have to attend to are the inequalities created by our evil past in South Africa. These inequalities are fixated and entrenched in our social fabric. They have to be rooted out. We have also realized that for the transformation of the lives of the poor, churches and communities cannot rely on capitalist market forces to grow the economy and hope that the crumbs which may trickle down to the poor will eradicate, list alleviate poverty. The question of poverty is a structural and political one. It has to be attended in terms of the interventions in economic policies implemented by ensuring that they are transformative and geared to make poverty history.

Needless to mention that: “Most of the poor live in rural areas: while 50% of the

population of South Africa is rural, the rural areas contain 72% of those members of the

total population who are poor”. Further, almost 70% of the poor are black people. Thus, the church leaders must not lose focus to attend to the problems of black people. They are the ones who have been bedeviled and we should not shy away from that fact.

The Experience of Visiting the Poor in their Homesteads

We went out to visit the poor in their houses. We drove on their dusty streets. We greeted them in their own languages. We saw anguish, sorrow, suffering, sickness, drought and hunger. One poor man was even quoted in the Newspaper, Mercury (Tuesday, 4 July 2006) saying: “Many policies have been passed. Many people have voted. But what has been done has been done for the rich. I am afraid the government, other organisations (including the churches) and academics speak about the poor all the time but so few want to speak to the poor (additions mine)”.

The poor we have seen are like captives in a foreign land, unmercifully scourged by a cruel heartless master who will never let them go free. Like deliberately gouged and blinded people, for them it seemed hopeless to pray for sight for their eyes are gouged out – is a feeling and experience we had when they spoke to us. We prayed with all of them but our prayers seemed so empty, so hypocritical and so meaningless – that is how we felt. We were moved from inside. We felt something must be done about the situation.

“Poverty, and its handmaid, inequality, in their myriad incarnations, are everywhere for all to see: every landlord’s house in each village, every five-star hotel is surrounded by them, every posh colony has its attached antithesis outside its gates, where the other half strives to survive. Y ou encounter them on your morning walk, when they are up and about their work well before you arise; they greet you again on the pavements after a late night, when they are still going about their chores well after you turn in. You have a brush with them at city traffic lights. On public transport buses, if ever your air- conditioned car breaks down. It seems the sun never sets on them and their world of work” (Saith 2005: 4601).

Coming out of the poverty exposure trip, we asked ourselves: what did we go out to see? Poverty seems to be blatantly everywhere. Some of us grew in poverty and yet we

were so heavily moved by what we saw. Speaking about poverty is not the same as speaking to poor people themselves and in that matter listening and hearing their stories; telling us how it is like and why it came to be so. This pastoral letter is trying to do just that – to tell the stories of the poor, and to describe the experiences of both the poor and the observers in this trip.

What is Poverty?

“. poverty is perceived by poor South Africans themselves to include alienation from the community, food insecurity, crowded homes, usage of unsafe and inefficient forms of energy, lack of jobs that are adequately paid/ or secure, and fragmentation of the family” (Poverty and Inequality Report 1998: 26).

People have said, poverty is lack of water, scarcity of employment opportunities, unfairness and nepotism in allocations of tenders, the intransigency and irresponsive public officials and so on. Poverty is socio-economic oppression. Poverty is suffering from the power of injustice. It is harassment by those who only consider their own advantage and influence (Boesak 1977: 22 – 23).

The Discourse of Capitalism as a Religion of Worship of Mammon/ Wealth

The creator God has been falsely given an unfortunate image of the God of wealth, exploitation, competition and capitalism. How the elites accumulated wealth for themselves at the expense of the people and how they brought in the people in this competitive religious capitalist colonial economic system, where Africans participated as objects of labor exploitation, is unacceptable, but, on the other side reveals the kind of God the elites are committed to by their practice (Bosch 1983: 31, additions mine). Their insatiable greed and hoarding of wealth and empty promises of distribution of wealth cause poverty to deepen its nails on the poor and ends up with the uprisings of the poor. These uprising are acts of social protest against exploitation and repression and at times the frustration of the poor can only be unleashed and directed to their own communities. This is unfortunate.

It was the initial need for cheap labour, for an exceptionally numerous labour force at an exceptionally cheap price, that made South Africa different.

Without this need most of the indigenous people might have been eliminated like the native Americans or pushed into separate colonies outside the ‘golden areas’. What actually happened was that millions of black people were forced into a kind of slave labour to dig the deepest holes and the largest network of tunnels on this planet. Pharoahs’s little effort at putting up huge buildings and pyramids with forced labour was as nothing in comparison with this (Nolan 1988: 72).

The African people were forced into slave labour in the mining industry where they had to dig out gold discovered in 1886. These Africans came from the conquered groups who had no land but had to survive through earning wages part of which were used to pay the taxes imposed on them. The very introduction of taxes was meant to encourage Africans to look for money in white capitalist locations. In the new South Africa capitalism is the central policy of a ‘democratic’ government. Capitalism has changed pigmentation, from white elites to black ones. It is driven predominantly, by African elite. Its economic results continue the same way. The exploitation of the working class, shedding of jobs, homelessness and poverty is doom.

Put quite simply, the purpose of all capitalism as it was with colonialism is money. In the olden days the colonizers exacted a tribute or tax, in kind or in cash, from the colonized. European colonialism, however, was a way of acquiring more land, new markets, raw materials or cheap labor – depending upon which of these were available in the colonies. These were the commodities that were needed by the economy of Europe, by its particular way of producing or manufacturing goods (the capitalist mode of production). The European economy and its successful way of producing goods were based upon the arrangement that some people would own the land, the factories, the mines and machinery, while others would work for wages (Nolan 1988: 73, additions mine).

So, the South African experience of the God who was preached by the missionary-capitalists and their following generations of white capitalists and now succeeded by African capitalist, was the God of wealth, greed, exploitation and

economic oppression. In the pre-Apartheid era this was happening after the white military forces had subjugated Africans and succeeded in changing their tributary mode of production and distribution to the capitalist mode of production and accumulation. This continues to happen after the political liberation of the masses of the poor and the introduction of neo-capitalism as the central policy position of the new democratic South Africa.

According to Kritzinger (1990: 6) one more idol, a ‘false god’ identified by Black theologians, worshipped by capitalists is Mammon- the worship of money, wealth, property, privilege, power and prosperity. ‘To this money idol, many human lives have been sacrificed'(Nolan 1988: 72; Kritzinger 1990: 6). The lives of neighbors and friends, other nationals and visitors now and in the future will continue to be susceptible to ‘xenophobic violence for instance if the issue of poverty is not attended to seriously. South Africa as indeed Southern Africa needs the political will to legislate for economic liberation, fairness, equality and goodwill for all.

The internalization of capitalism, the precursor and successor of colonialism in South Africa can be traced from a continuation of British colonialism in which the colonizers were deeply involved and through the preaching of God encouraged the Africans to participate in such a system they knew would not genuinely benefit the Africans as would be the will of the God of the elites patronizing the Africans.

But all this, the conquest of Africans by British colonialism and the Dutch (Boer) – the continuation of the same in the form of internal colonialism, to the extent that the white sacrificed their lives for the wealth they found, accumulated and worshipped (Nolan 1988; Kritzinger 1990), was not accidental. According to Mbeki then, it was the ultimate end of British imperialism and policy to have a self-governing white community in southern Africa which would be supported by Black people. So, African human labour, natural and spiritual resources were exploited for the benefit of whites only (1978: 18)

From the Africans, as they were economically colonized, the God of money demanded total obedience, absolute subservience and full co-operation with what was happening to them. It was the will of the God according to divine providence viewed by the

debased Christian teaching. This God was said to be moral, all knowing, all powerful, and had supreme authority and this was expressed in the apparent supremacy of whites over Black people (Ntwasa and More 1973: 20, additions mine). As such, from the perception of Africans, the mission was not ‘religion’: rather, the mission represented the arbitrary exercise of political power, exploitation of labour, and extraction of wealth (Chidester 1996: 34). The whites worshipped wealth; exchanged the ‘living God’ for the idol – Mammon. And,

Translating the advantages of black worker disenfranchisement into cash, the Chamber of mines stated in its 1910 annual report that it ‘viewed the native purely as a machine, requiring a certain amount of fuel’. It decreed accordingly that the diet of the African miners living in mine compounds should be determined in terms of the formula ‘. the minimum amount of food which will give them the maximum amount of work’ (Mbeki 1978: 16).

And at that time, the English speaking churches, products of missionary-evangelization were totally disconnected from Black labour – poor makers of wealth (Cochrane 1987: 2ff). It was, therefore, during the conquest of the Africans that missionary-colonizers were to find full scope for their activities (Majeke 1952: 17) which tempted the whites to worship Mammon. As it were, the role of missionaries was to reconcile the ‘savages to the colonial Christian government, create artificial wants, industry, trade, agriculture and incorporate the African to the capitalist mode of production’ (Majeke 1952: 18). This was not a new problem:

It seems to many that throughout history God has all too often appeared in the garb of the rich and the privileged, standing on the side of the authorities and without protest abiding by all untruths, the half truths, and the equivocating myths. In South Africa God is white … (Boesak 1979: 33).

Today, God is South Africa, at least politically has been relativised and percolated into religious pluralism. Religious, cultural and political relativism are not necessarily unethical in themselves except for fundamentalists. The problem is when is comes to economy democracy. No one among the elites groups wants to budge. It seems, economic decentralization is impossible to legislate. It is for this reason

the God of greed is rejected by those who suffer under a religio-cultural and political relativism which does not translate into economic freedom as a matter of policy.

Worship of Race, Culture, Language, Class and Elitism

Yet another idol of an unfortunate God identified by Black theologians is racism, tribalism and xenophobia – the worship of race, tribalism and xenophobia, is claimed as not just mere hatred on the other person originating from another different nationality (Kritzinger 1990: 3, additions mine).

It is important, however, to understand what they mean by it (then relating to whites and now uncritically adopted by the elites of the new dispensation of democracy in South Africa. To them racism is much more than mere racial prejudice, which functions at the level of attitudes and feelings, and is therefore responsive to moral appeals. White racism is seen by black theologians as a system of oppression, a power structure which causes exploitation and oppression of black people. For this reason they think and link it to capitalism and colonialism, in order to indicate that they are concerned with institutional racism and not merely with racial prejudice. We have fallen into the same folly albeit unconsciously in the new South Africa (Kritzinger 1990: 3. additions mine).

So, we realize that whites and now our new elites are first white/ elites before they are humans. In other words whites/ elites are human as a secondary appendage, otherwise they can live as beings which are white/ elite and void of humanity for it is only in this attitude that you can dehumanize other humans and treat them like objects as indeed whites/ elites did in southern Africa. Otherwise, human conscience will always debar humans from doing inhuman things.

But in southern Africa we have seen what Mbeki then (1998: 33) relates. He said: I have seen what happens when one person has superiority of force over another, when the stronger appropriate to themselves the prerogative even to annul the injunction that God created all men and women in His image. I know what it signifies when race and colour (power and elitism) are used to determine who is human and subhuman. I have seen the destruction of all

self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what one is not, simply to acquire some of the benefits which those had imposed themselves as masters had ensured that they enjoy.

I have experience of a situation in which race and colour (power and elitism) is used to enrich some and impoverish the rest. I have seen the corruption of minds and souls as a result of the pursuit of an ignoble effort to perpetrate a veritable crime against humanity. I have seen concrete expression of the denial of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious, system and systematic oppression and repressive activities of other human beings. There the victims parade with no mask to hide the brutish reality – the beggars, the prostitutes, the street children, those who seek solace in substance abuse, those who have to steal to assuage hunger, those who have to lose their sanity because to be sane is to invite pain. Perhaps the worst among these who are my people are those who have learnt to kill for a wage. To these the extent of death is directly proportional to their personal welfare (Mbeki 1998: 33, additions mine).

This is what happens when ‘God’ is turned to race, colour, culture, power, and elitism. Once these things come first before humanness, you see no human in a person of another skin colour, or another race, culture, class, privilege and religion. In other words, bigotry reigns supreme and a person becomes so blind to racism and elitism as a ‘god’, culture, language, religions as false ‘gods’ a person is worshipping. But what is more is that these gods and idols are worshipped in the name of the ‘living God’. Certainly MODIMO/ Umveliqangi/ Xamata etc, of African religions was never ‘worshipped’ as a deity of a particular chosen race and elites engendering favouritism with that chosen race/ elite, taking the lands of other peoples or denying others access to land and giving them to the ‘chosen of that God’. No, never.

Thus, as Mbeki then reiterated, it is spurious to name people and define them by their race, religion, language and culture (1998: 34). Allegiance to a religion, speaking a certain language, being born in a particular population group does not make you a superior being nor make your have a superior religion. These are just impositions by colonizers we have seen in southern Africa which have left us with what Mbeki (Ibid.) described above.

Ironically, regarding racial worth, it is as if the white God as revealed in southern Africa said to Africans because of their race, colour, culture, creed and alleged inferiority:

You are of infinite value to God: religious language proclaims. Life proclaims:

I hope you will be satisfied with the value God places on you, because in our eyes you have none (Ntwasa and More 1973: 26)

In South Africa, the ones who had human value were white/ elite and this had far reaching implications for Black people to be modumedi/ ikholwa (lit. One who agrees; Christian; believer). The Christian message and intention had no place for anything African to the point that conversion meant for Africans bending all the way, changing everything and almost or actually becoming Western Anglo-Saxon Protestant – a European through and through, although still not being accommodated in their culture, politics and economics.

Here was one area where there was a clash. Africans expected to worship the God while white/ elites worshipped, and sacrificed for; their race, class, language and culture, gaining advantage over the indigenous people in that the European religion (Christianity) culture, language, interests, politics and economics were promoted through the use and abuse of Africans and Africans were not allowed to put back resources to strengthen their language, culture and religion.

By contrast, those marginal men and women drawn into the church soon realized that they had to accept, in no small measure, its methodical, rule – government regime: to be seen to adopt, that is, the conventions of sekgowa/

Isingisi [European manners]. Interested inquirers who wished to drink at the fountain of the elitists – to cultivate their irrigated fields, use their tools, learn to read books, rely on them as a defensive shield – were expected also to acknowledge their beliefs and assent to their laws. That much was implicated in being a modumedi/ ikholwa; one who agrees (Comaroff and Comaroff 1991: 247, addition mine).

Proposals and Suggestions for Solutions Towards Total and Permanent Eradication of Poverty on Earth: If this is the case what are possible suggestions towards the amicable amelioration and eradication of the present status quo?

■  We propose: the promotion of human dignity through just distribution of wealth.

  • The equalization of rewards and just compensation for the contributions of the people in the creation and the sharing of the wealth of God’s creation.
    • The promotion of the right to work, to own property and to receive legitimate wages

■    The creation and maintenance of an environment respecting worker’s dignity

  • That the role of the state be the creation of a just society through laws that preserve the rights of the people to realise making poverty history, i.e., total eradication of poverty in the face of the earth
  • The state desist from capitalism which makes poverty permanent and perpetual on earth etc.