What do you do after praying on your knees?
The South African Council of Churches came out recently with a report on state capture and the state of corruption in South Africa. They confirmed that the African National Congress under President Jacob Zuma has lost its moral compass. The party was no longer able to lead the country through a government that has been captured by the Guptas. This is a family of Indian immigrants to whom President Zuma is beholding along with his son Duduzeni Zuma. Another son, Edward Zuma, from another mother insists that the Guptas ought to be put in prison and if his father, the president is found guilty should also follow the Guptas to prison. That kind of outcome to the South African political, economic and social crisis is still in realm of wishful thinking. For one thing the Guptas have begun to move their assets to Dubai. And President Zuma is arranging for his ex-wife (?) Dr. Nkokosana Dlamini-Zuma to replace come the December ANC leadership election conference.
Why the question mark after the “ex-wife” label? Well, in Zulu culture, and President Zuma is 100% Zulu, unless the parents-in-law returned the lobola paid at the time of the marriage, there is no divorce. This was the line of argument of another divorced wife of a former president of the African National Congress and former president of the country. The courts did not accept the argument and as President Zuma would say, if asked, why would the courts agree when they in fact foreign courts in our land, not understanding our African culture?
The South African Council of Churches says that in this present political, economic and social crisis there is urgent need for divine intervention. Politically the ANC government is losing its grip on the electorate and there is already talk of coalition of parties to take over come the 2019 elections. Already coalitions of parties are already in power in the major municipalities that the ANC lost in the municipal elections of last August.
These coalition governments are the indications of liberation movements turned ruling political parties breaking up. This has happened in India in the case of the Congress Party. It would have happened long ago in Zimbabwe if Mugabe had not criminally clung to power through ridding, through killings, and through massively compromising the security forces and the coercive agents of the country. One person who should know is Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke who was part of a delegation sent to Zimbabwe from South Africa to observe the elections of 2002. The ANC government of that time under President Thabo Mbeki rejected the report of the delegation and pronounced the Mugabe rigged elections fair and free.
A week or so ago, Justice Moseneke was asked to give the inaugural Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust Lecture on Integrity and Leadership at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. After characterising six leadership types – “do as I do, now”, “come with me”, “people come first”, “try this”, “do what I tell you” and “what do you think”, he went on to look at the present politico-social situation of South Africa today. He labelled the South Africa of today as a post-conflict society, a conflict that began from the day the Dutch arrived in the Cape in 1652. “We were divided and warring people for 340 years from 1652 to 1990. The conflict was drenched in violence; marked by colonial displacement, social disintegration and economic exclusion.”
Towards the end of the lecture Justice Moseneke spoke of what happens to a liberation movement turned political party:
“…those who fought for and claim that they brought freedom to the people are rarely best suited to preserve and grow freedom genuine. Being a revolutionary is not synonymous to being an effective transformer of society. Those who are in the forefront of the war; or who can best destroy an unjust system are not necessarily best placed to reconstruct the post conflict society. Each task demands a distinct set of skills which do not necessarily reside in the same place.”
At what point in the political life of a people do we realise that those who won the anti-colonial war will lose the peace?
On the social crisis Justice Moseneke says there are today 18 million South Africans on social grant of one form or the other out of a population of 50 million on a tax base of 5 million and shrinking. Shenanigans and corruption in the office that distributes these grants is not the main aspect of the crisis. Taking advantage of grant dependent citizens through selling them items they do not need or cannot afford is bad enough. Lending to them at exorbitant interest rates is evil. But the real crisis comes when people, who used to pay tax willingly start to dodge paying tax. This is accompanied with manufacturing companies leaving the country thus reducing the number of people in paid employment. The ultimate crisis is when avoiding tax payment, both personal and company, becomes a political instrument to fight rampart state capture and patron client corruption. The South African Council of Churches says that this is leading the country to become a mafia-run state.
What Justice Moseneke says about Archbishop Makgoba goes for individual church leaders as well as their congregations. “He has rightly refused to be cloistered and blinkered by his Church duties and his high office. When it mattered he has displayed remarkable courage to tackle openly difficult socio-political questions.”
It is the concern for the socio-political and economic questions of today that has led the South African Council of Churches to insist that there is need for divine intervention in the country. They have called for prayers across denominations and religions. They have get all citizens to get down on their knees and pray for God to intervene and save the country. But they have called for more than simply getting on your knees and praying. They have also called on citizens to get up from their kneeling prayers and do everything they have the strength to do in order to achieve what they have prayed for. Pray and get up and act to achieve what you pray for. That ultimately is way of the true believer in prayers.