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Hanekom rejects Zuma’s call for churches to ‘stay away’ from politics


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The Citizen National 25.12.2016 03:49 pm

Hanekom rejects Zuma’s call for churches to ‘stay away’ from politics

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FILE PICTURE: Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Jaco Marais)

FILE PICTURE: Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Jaco Marais)

The minister says churches ‘cannot’ stay away from politics.

Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has joined the Anglican church in rejecting President Jacob Zuma’s call for religious institutions to stay away from politics on Sunday.

Hanekom says “in opposing prejudice, oppression, poverty and inequality”, religious institutions cannot stay away from politics.

This after the Anglican church said it will ignore the President’s call for clergy to stay out of politics. The church’s archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, raised the question of whether religious communities in South Africa should withdraw their moral support for the government.

“Can you believe it?” he asked a congregation attending midnight mass at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. “A president of a democratic South Africa telling the church to stay out of politics? You would be forgiven for thinking that you had climbed into a time machine and gone back 30 years into the past, when apartheid presidents said the same thing.

“I am very pleased that the bishops and their chapters in the three Western Cape dioceses – Cape Town, False Bay, and Saldanha Bay – have rejected President Zuma’s comments and have told him very firmly, ‘No Mr President, we will not refrain from engagement in the political terrain. Our people live there‎, work there, suffer, cry, and struggle there. We live there too and cannot and will not stop commenting or acting on what we see and what, in our opinion, is unjust, corrupt, and unacceptable to God’s high standards of sacrificial love’.

“We in the church live in and know communities which are afflicted by the darkness of pain, sorrow, and despair. Our communities yearn for hope and the courage of leaders to stand up and speak truth to power. We hear the cries from those on the edges of our society. Mr president, we will ignore your call, made from the palaces of power where you and your fellow leaders live in comfort. We will lament and ask God, ‘Where are you, God, when your people are marginalised and excluded?’ We will continue to wage the new struggle – the struggle for equality of opportunity, for equality of outcome, and to end economic inequities, especially those created by skewed access to resources, health, and education.

“As we look ahead to 2017, we see a ruling party at war with itself, crippled by division to the degree that some serving members of the Cabinet believe the president must step down. As a result we see a government becoming paralysed by an inability to achieve policy certainty and to chart a clear way ahead. People of faith need to begin asking: At what stage do we, as churches, as mosques, as synagogues, withdraw our moral support for a democratically-elected government?”

“It feels as if we are back to the national pain of 1963, living under a state of emergency, imposed on us by careless and corrupt leaders who have forgotten us, stripped us of our dignity. Many have tried to steal the means by which we might uplift ourselves through our own hard work.

“I have so far not joined the call for our president to resign, but said that he should step aside while his party leaders address their crisis. But our situation compels us to ask when do we name the gluttony, the inability to control the pursuit of excess? When do we name the fraudsters who are unable to control their insatiable appetite for obscene wealth accumulated at the expense of the poorest of the poor?”

However, Makgoba said South Africa’s democracy was vibrant. “South Africa is not broken. We have a sound Constitution and we have seen over this past year that we have resilient institutions. The courts, especially the Constitutional Court, civil society, the media, whistle-blowers in the government and private sector, and the many honest and hard-working public servants we do have — they are all doing their jobs well.”

– Additional reporting by ANA

 


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