Page 1

2009

Luthando Tofu

Faith, Politics and Development: The Silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa

ABSTRACT [Reflecting on both historic and contemporary commentators, this paper seeks to assess the current role of the South African church in the public space of politics, development and morality. This paper will also seek to identify possible reasons why the church seems to have gone silent in the public sphere and the results of this silence as seen in moral degeneration and paralysis of Cornerstone Christian College Moderator: Dr. Nadine Bowers Du Toit BTh. - Senior Project Paper Department of Community Development

developmental imperatives. This paper will seek to draft a path as to the implications of this silence relating to moral and developmental issues within the South African context. It will then propose the transformative role the church could play by providing transformative leadership.]


TABLE OF CONTENT

“The contribution from the Christian faith can only be meaningful and authentic if it is made from the heart of the Christian faith: the belief in the Lord ship of Jesus Christ over all of life.� Dr. Allan Boesak

Introduction Reflecting on both historic and contemporary commentators, this paper seeks to assess the current role of the South African church in public space of politics, development and morality. This paper will also seek to identify reasons why the church seems to have gone silent in the public sphere and the results of this silence as seen in moral degeneration and paralysis of developmental imperatives. This paper will seek to draft a path as to the implications of this silence relating to moral and developmental issues within the South African context. It will then propose the transformative role the church could play by providing moral leadership. It will also employ the polemic approach rather than an apologetic discourse so as to critically analyze the impact of the church in national political leadership.


Section A 1. Motivation When religion is relegated merely to the private sphere, it becomes vulnerable to the charge of being “soft” and therefore irrelevant to public life. Politicians themselves often suggest that religion is too soft and weak to be useful to political decision making. Jim Wallis 2005: 37

1.1. Why this topic? There is no doubt that South Africa is a beautiful country filled with hope and possibility. Taken from the idea of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africans have strived to build a “rainbow nation” that has equal opportunities for all. Fifteen years into our prized democracy, the South African dream seems to grow more illusive as lamentations seem to resound from every corner of society. The dream of the formation of a miracle nation, whose character was to resemble that of the historic biblical “land flowing with milk and honey,” seems to be crushed by the harsh reality of dissatisfaction, vulnerability and broken promises. So much was expected as the country transitioned, but now disillusionment seems to be taking its toll. The diminishing credibility of the current political leadership speaks to the heart of outcry of the average citizen as heroes of the people turn into great navigators of the political machine in order to ensure positions of power leaving a lot to be pondered by the average citizen. Bystanders are left wondering what happened to the South Africa that so many people gave their lives for. South Africa now stands with the world’s highest HIV/AIDS infection with 1500 new infections every day according to the Human Science Research Council. The crime rate is also amongst the world’s top. White-collar crime costs the economy about R150 billion per annually (Shevel, A 2009). Unemployment stands at 23%. Even the former president Thabo Mbeki in his 2008 State of the Nation

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Address acknowledged Charles Dickens’ “tale of two cities” allegory manifesting itself within the socioeconomic class of South Africa (Mbeki 2008). During the Apartheid, a lot of champions for the people arose and amongst those was the church. From the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) to the transition into a democratic state, the church was at the heart of the struggle. Informed by the social situation of the time and the theological formation, the church shaped itself as the spear which pierced through the heart of the apartheid regime. It stood as the beacon of hope as it drew from the divine hope which the Apostle Paul presents as being anchored in the very presence of God (Heb. 6:19 – 20). As the church formed a formidable coalition with both the ANC and the United Democratic Front it was by no means a political body in itself but rather a moral compass. This solidarity with the oppressed gave spiritual exhortation to both the people and the leaders to motivate them to fight on until freedom was achieved. In this sense the church won itself not only legitimacy, which was diminished by the reputation of the Dutch Reformed Church (as supporters of the apartheid regime), but also credibility to function in the public sphere. This is the church that now stands in the midst of unstable South African moral conscience. As once again the need for a moral compass arises the call for the church to answer cannot be clearer. The mobility of the church in responding to the outcry against apartheid was rapid but now it is not fast paced enough to meet the need for a moral regeneration. Is it perhaps that South Africans have sought independence from the guiding hand of the church or has the church withdrawn from its impending responsibility? Is the church no longer in solidarity with the oppressed and poor? Will the church rather stand blindly by the side of the government as an act of loyalty?

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


1.2 Why is it important to me? The church, therefore, should stand as the moral compass, the accountability mechanism, the critical engager with government so as to ensure that power is utilised to the glory of God and the welfare of the general public. If we are to see a change in the public sphere, moral integrity as well as global affairs, we as the church needs to put aside the dualistic paradigm and begin to infiltrate all sectors of society in order to be the light and the salt. This is not to say that the world will change through political Christianization, but rather that Christian expression in politics and public policy can affect a shift in the balance of power for the benefit of the poor. This is important to me because I believe the mandate given to the church is both to express of the kingdom of God on earth and change societies through the transforming power of the gospel. This refers to the reconciliation of all things with the Creator. It is with this understanding that I find passion in leadership development as I believe that no part of society can escape the Lord ship of Christ.

1.3 Why is it significant for my field of study? The relationship between socio-political issues and community development cannot be separated. Community development in essence is a field of the social sciences. The demise of the poor and vulnerable in society has to do with power relations to a large extent and in a democratic society like South Africa, where focus is beginning to shift from the “power of the people” to “people of power,” redressing the outstanding paradigms becomes necessary. Ignatius Swart (2006: 7), in his book, The Church and the Development Debate, opens a platform for the church to engage not only on the welfare level of social transformation but also in the sphere of the

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


“politics of ideas.” He does so by reflecting on David Korten’s theoretical framework stating the movement from first to third generation (this means from relief welfare to policy advocacy) of Christian involvement in development. Swart’s suggestion of a fourth generation approach involves the shaping of ideologies,

policies and strategies that have a crucial impact on the welfare of the people at grassroots level. It is in this sphere that the true understanding of power can be presented to those who seem to hold systemic power. Politics presents a contract between civil society and public representatives who seek to act on behalf and in the interest of those represented. Government shapes public policy that can dramatically have a direct impact on the livelihood of every individual within a state. Though macro politics seem to be far removed from the grassroots level, they are interrelated as they set the framework for the overall developmental process. The church in this interaction acts to evaluate the overall picture and ensure accountability of those who represent the public. The church understands power and the intoxicating effect of power in human hands and seeks to help save both parties from the impending effects of man’s destructive pursuit of power due to fallenness and not side with only one. Reflecting on both historic and contemporary commentators, this paper seeks to assess the current role of the South African church in the public space of politics, development and morality. This paper will also seek to identify possible reasons why the church seems to have gone silent in the public sphere and the results of this silence as seen in moral degeneration and paralysis of developmental imperatives. This paper will seek to draft a path as to the implications of this silence relating to moral and developmental issues within the South African context. It will then propose the transformative role the church could play by providing transformative leadership. The relationship between socio-political issues and community development cannot be separated. Community development in essence is a field of social sciences. The demise of the poor and vulnerable

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


in society has to do with power relations to a large extent. In a democratic society like South Africa, where focus is beginning to shift from the “power of the people” to “people of power,” redressing the outstanding paradigms becomes necessary.

1.4 Why is it significant at this time in the history of my country or field of study? The year 2009 has brought the most dramatic political atmosphere since 1994. We have witnessed the dethroning of the former ANC president Thabo Mbeki, the resurrection of the president elect Jacob Zuma, the formation of The Congress of the People (COPE), and the historic mobilization of around 6 million young people of South Africa to the voting polls. Most interesting of all is COPE’s byline for moral leadership in light of the controversial arms deal saga. Of course this comes in light of various uncertainties regarding the ANC’s moral direction particularly led by a president who narrowly escaped facing corruption charges. Confidence in the political leadership to address the moral decay in South Africa has dropped and a sense for a new hope is necessary. The church is challenged as the world sees Barak Obama, president of the United States of America, as the saviour of the global society, whilst staunch Zuma supporters see him as the “Black Jesus.” The need for a saviour is high in the minds of South Africans, but the prospect of a human saviour can be very disappointing. To a large extent, the moral decline which is so drastically affecting all segments of our society is seen by Bryant Myers (1999: 76) as “marred identity.” This is to say that all social ills stem from the brokenness of humanity whose only hope is the Creator himself. Therefore the only solution for South African poverty, crime, xenophobia, etc. is to point it all back to the Creator.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


2. Problem statement The purpose of this paper is to analyse: “How the silence of the church affects the political, moral and development landscapes in the new democratic South Africa.” In this sense, it aims to explore the role of public theology in the new South Africa whilst identifying progressive setbacks and developments to further the role of the church in the public sphere.

3. Defining key terms 1.Politics: Sociologists, Popenoe and Cunningham (1998: 348) define politics as “the process by which some people and groups acquire power and exercise it over others.” The type of politics as concerning this paper is the exercise of this power in partisan politics and state governance rather than the extended form of politics. 2.Faith: Atkinson and Field (1995: 368) point out that, “Faith does have a cognitive dimension but it also has an affective dimension.” They further elaborate on the latter dimension by stating that, “This dimension of faith raises the thorny problem of the relation of faith and works.” Therefore it is precisely in this dimension of faith that the issue of morality arises giving a point of discourse for this paper. How the internal faith affects the external ethic. 3.Development: De Wette Schutte (2000: 3) brings forth that, “If it is true that development can be either positive or negative, it follows that development is in fact merely a form of change. He then ties it together by saying, “community development is the gradual positive change, among people within a

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


given geographical area, towards self-determined ideals, with minimal outside interference.” It is this definition that will be employed by this paper regarding development.

3.2. The Public role of the South African Church “It is therefore only to be expected that the impact of the church after the collapse of the apartheid regime should also be widespread and critical.” Smit 2007: 58

3.2.1 Public role of the Church in politics Until now, the public role of the Church in South African politics has taken the form of presenting a Christian social ethic in modern society without the ultimate goal of “conversion,” but rather motivated by the need to express the humanity of Christ in society. Moltmann (1999: 43), who is a catalyst in modern political theology, declares that the new political theology presupposes the public testimony of faith, and freedom for the political discipleship of Christ. Discipleship need not be confined to private life and in the church. Often Constantianism 1 is cautioned against as a form of politicising the church, which gave rise to such attempts as the crusades. The notion of discipleship, as suggested by Moltmann, aims to contrast the just rule of God's kingdom with that of political leaders. He aims to bridge that gap by the promotion of Christ-centred values and an understanding of power. Political leaders who are public representatives entrusted with the socio1

The concept, Constantinianism, is derived from the period when the church became state church during the reign of Constantine in the 4th century. For centuries thereafter the state exercised an inappropriate authority in church affairs and the church in state affairs (Koopman 2005).

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


economic welfare of the country are not only to be expected to provide a measure of prosperity for all but also to be the moral embodiment of the kind of society they are hoping to build. 3.2.2 Public role of the Church in morality Koopman (2003: 4), in reflecting on Hauerwas' work, challenges the concept of Church as enforcer of a Christian social ethic for peaceful coordination of the world. He states that in fact the church is a social ethic in its very nature as it carries the call to be a community of peace in a distressed world. This in itself, therefore, reflects the very nature of public theology in that it is ultimately a theology of being. This becomes the incarnational nature of the church as it hopes to manifest the life of Christ in this world. It is from this discourse that morality is extracted to provide a framework for social construct. In this sense, the church demands from the public not merely the practice of ethics but rather the embodiment of ethics as modelled by the life of the church. It is in a decaying moral context that the expression of God's humanity, as incarnated in the church, has the potential to bring light. When private faith takes on a public shape it reflects something of the character of Christ. The absence of this manifestation leaves the world saltless and in darkness (Matt. 5:13 – 14). It is this need for the church to be salt and light that calls for the public nature of the Christian faith in modern South Africa.

3.2.3. Public role of the Church in development The kingdom of God as viewed from the Lukan tradition presents God as being on the side of the poor and vulnerable (Luke 3:18). God's solidarity with the poor in this sense is not to be viewed as opposing those who are well off but instead to give hope based on the just nature of God. The strings of society

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


pull, from the powerful to the powerless, all of whom are within the same political contexts. If politics is about power then development is about equalizing the power dynamics. The connection between these two is undeniable. The public role of the Church becomes that of balancing this power so that justice, equality and peace are maintained. The church within the South African context has been involved in social welfare initiatives for decades even providing the first hospitals, clinics, and schools. This is what David Bosch (1991: 404) terms the “social mandate”, but he is also quick to note that when ever this mandate was emphasized in evangelism, it would always be accompanied by a statement about the primacy of evangelism. Even in these terms the church would deal with social issues in a reactionary mode. Often social welfare would be used as a means to perpetuate evangelism or as a stepping stone with conversion as the most important goal. Taking from Swart's (2006: 6) fourth generation approach that the church should be involved in the “politics of ideas” so as to challenge unjust and oppressive social systems widen the scope of the church's “social mandate.”

4. Objectives 4.To describe the public role of the church in reflecting on the struggle against apartheid 5.To analyse the relationship between the church and state in post 1994 South Africa 6.To analyse the relationship between moral degeneration in S.A. and the role of the church 7.To analyse the role of the church as government's “critical engager” on the side of development for the poor

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


5. Methodology This paper will use a literature review which Fink (1998: 3) defines as “a systematic, explicit, and reproducible method for identifying, evaluating, and interpreting the existing body of recorded work produced by researchers, scholars, and practitioners.� In this sense, both historical and recent information available regarding the topic will be analyzed.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Section B “If anyone says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love, whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4: 20

6. A brief history before 1994 Rev. John Langalibalele Dube, who is one of the founding members of the ANC, in his 1892 pamphlet entitled “A Talk upon My Native Land” gave somewhat prophetic vision as he stated: This shall be the dawning of a brighter day for the people of Africa. Christianity will usher in a new civilisation and the Dark Continent will be transformed into a land of commerce and Christian institutions.

For Dube, transformation could not come except if it was embedded in the Christian faith. It is the transforming power of the gospel that will ultimately bring light and freedom to Africa. Of course, Dube was involved in the struggle against the oppressive policies of the colonialist power, but found this struggle alone could not save his people. The strength of the civilisation to come would be founded in the Christian faith. Many of his colleagues in what was then known as the SANNC, and later the ANC as it become know in 1928, were undeniably devout Christians as well as political activists. Some were lay preachers in their various denominations. Individuals such were Rev. Henry Reed Ncayiya chaplain general of the ANC, Charlotte Maxele, Oliver Tambo and many more. The Christian faith became the foundation for the struggle right from the founding of the ANC. Hence even Tiyo Soga's Nkosi Sikeleli Africa was adopted as the party's anthem and later the national anthem of South Africa. Currently the very same sentiment is shared by the new President of South Africa. While speaking at Rhema Church in Johannesburg, Jacob Zuma made a profound statement by declaring that, “The ANC

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


has its roots in the Christian faith, but celebrates and supports all other faiths. The ANC practically derives its moral vision from the Church and other sources (The Times 2009).” It is this history that I seek to trace so as to better understand the current relationship between the current ANC government and the Church today.

6.1 The legacy of the Dutch Reformed Church Colonisation in South Africa like in most of the African countries across the continent came with Christianity as its religion. The Dutch Reformed Church with its Calvinistic vantage point was established during the Dutch colony rule of 1652-1795 at the Cape. According to (Smit 2007: 12) the official policy was religiously intolerant and all non-Calvinists were severely restricted, including Lutherans. The history of separation continued to grow its strength even within South African Christianity. A separate DRC mission was established for “coloured people” around 1881 followed by other missions established for ethnic groups. In this sense the DRC was divided into three groupings – white, coloured (also known as the Sending Kerk) and black (also known as the N. G. Kerk). Since this type of segregation already existed within the DRC it was by no surprise that with the sanctioning of laws of separate development by the Afrikaner led government, the “white” DRC was very supportive. “Official apartheid was legitimated by an ideology and even a ‘theology of apartheid’ (Smit 2007:18).” It would be this legacy that would come back to haunt the Christianity as a whole in the democratic South Africa.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


7. The Great Awakening 7.1. Cottesloe, the Message and Kairos To what extent were the ANC and the various struggle leaders influenced by Christianity and the Church whilst it fought and prepared for succession to realise Dube’s dream of a new civilisation and commerce?” It is this history that will allow us to better analyse the relationship that exists today between the Church and the ruling party that run the South African government. Prior to the time of what could be termed the Great Awakening 2(1960s – 1980s), high profile leaders of the struggle like Rev. Calata, Chief Albert Luthuli, ZK Matthews, Steve Biko and a host of others had unashamedly claimed their faith as source of inspiration for the struggle and sacrifice and hope. The oppressed people of South Africa are irrepressibly religious (Boesak 2005: 153). The 1960s to 80s, climaxed by the Sharpeville massacre 3, led to an awakening within the church. The Cottesloe Consultation adjourned trying to craft a perspective that could be employed by the church concerning tabled matters affecting all the race groups. Cottesloe was held behind closed doors. But for outsiders who were interested in its proceedings, it soon became evident that something momentous was happening (de Gruchy 1986: 67). Even deeper within the DRC, the black Christians began to grasp some sense of awakening as there was a realization that the struggle against apartheid would, in a very real sense, remain significantly crippled 2

Great Awakening mentioned here is uniquely applicable to the South African context with no relation to the European awakening. It majorly speaks of the time of major philosophical and spiritual awakening of South Africans towards the prevailing socio-political injustice of apartheid. 3 Sharpeville massacre is regarded historically as a wake up call for the church during the apartheid era hence it lead to Cottesloe. 69 people were killed and 180 more were wounded as black students of Soweto boycotted the institution of Afrikaans as the official educational language in schools.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


unless the moral and theological underpinning of the apartheid system, as espoused by the white Dutch Reformed Churches, was not exposed, attacked and destroyed (Boesak 2005: 152). Many of the struggle leaders were arrested. It was in the 1980s that the conviction grew that the church should take more direct responsibility for leadership in the struggle (ibid 153). Up to this time, the church had played a supportive role in the struggle on the side of freedom and equality. Church leaders began to realise that theology should not only be willing to critique social systems but must be willing to construct and even replace systems and ideas in a comprehensive and strategic way based on the cruciformity of Christ.

7.2. Black consciousness, Black Power and Black Theology Such ethnic universities as Fort Hare bred a new generation of young people who were the catalysts of the Black Consciousness. Steve Biko, a former leader of the Student Christian Movement at the University of Natal and founding member of South African Student Organisation (SASO), grew disillusioned with both the church and liberalism as agents of change. He was nevertheless deeply influenced by the Christian tradition and the development of black theology (de Gruchy1986: 155). He later became a prominent figure in the development of the Black Consciousness (BC) existential philosophy. BC did more than just bring awareness, but sparked a deep sense of renaissance of the black culture and heritage. From Biko’s writings it is evident that he thought it essential for black people to come to terms with their identity if they were to prosecute the liberation struggle successfully (du Toit 2008: 21). In his understanding, just because black people were darker by pigmentation, nothing was missing of their humanity and hence they found pride in being black because they are different. It was this philosophy coupled with the formation of black theology that posed the biggest danger to apartheid, because it was to liberate the blacks from their inside out. The greatest triumph of the South African

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


people was achieved in the internal corridors of the black minds. This is where the myths and the lies of apartheid were defeated. Since apartheid had its foundations on the lies of superiority and separate development it had lost even before the democratic transition because it had lost the mind of the black person. It was BC that sparked new energy both in the church and the rest of the people to continue to fight especially at very tough time. Africanists4 who had embraced the BC philosophy were prone to voicing their quest for black power. This meant the need for self government and for the Africanists, complete polarization. The more liberal Chartarists5 began to be seen by the Africanists as succumbing to the legacy of the system as they still wanted to allow non-Africans to rule the country by partnering with the Indians, Coloureds and even the whites in pursuit of a united nation as opposed to a polarization. This led to the split and formation of the Pan Africanist Congress. For the ANC, conquest for black power would be realized through a black majority vote as opposed to polarization. Black Theology in South Africa was largely impacted by Black Consciousness and vice versa. Conversely, it is also true that Black theology provided the Black Consciousness movement with an immensely powerful spiritual foundation and motivation (Kretzschmar 1986:62).

4

Africanist were those who believed in reinstating black African superiority. This was to be done through the removal of anyone who was not a black African from any significant position in favour of black Africans. For the Africanist, polarisation was the only way towards the new South Africa. This was the advance of the Black Power movement which was later highly energised by Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness and the American Civil rights movement and other pan-Africanist movements 5 CODESA 1955 the Freedom Charter was adapted into the ANC. The Freedom Charter represented a dynamically liberal optimism towards the future of South Africa. It regarded all those who indwelt South Africa as equally deserving of rights and freedom. Those who believed in the vision of the Freedom Charter were to be more inclusive than those who held on to the pan-Africanist philosophy of polarisation.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


In 1986 came the Kairos document as the church began to find its prophetic voice. The SACC produced its Message to the People of South Africa which would launch them onto the national scene as opposers of the apartheid policies. The Message attempted to show how apartheid and separate development are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ (de Gruchy 1986: 119). If anyone was to be able to crash the ideological, theological and philosophical construct of the apartheid system it had to be the church. It is with this need that the church began to find its prophetic articulation and its crucial role in dismantling apartheid. Such black theologians as Allan Boesak were instrumental in the formation of this contextual gospel that refused to accept reconciliation without justice from the white church. It was with such interpretations that Black theology became relevant to the needs of the black people of South Africa. Boesak later comments that, “Liberation theology was not just about our own liberation, spiritually and physically; it was also about the liberation of the Bible from the hands of the oppressor, changing it from a tool of subjugation and ideological exploitation into a source of inspiration for justice and freedom for all people” (Boesak 2005: 152). It is undeniable that the struggle for freedom, political parties such as the ANC and the philosophies around the struggle were strongly influenced by the Christian faith. It has always been the Church with its Christian imperative that has informed the moral vision of the ANC and the struggle of the South African people. History draws a pattern of the involvement of the Church and the Christian faith in the public affairs of South African politics to create what Dube had foreseen as a “new civilisation.” The

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


church has always been seen as a vital partner in the political process by both the National Party 6 and the ANC.

6

The National Party came to power in 1948 after the withdrawal of Britain as a coloniser. Since then, the NP has seen to the rise of the most prominent Afrikaaner politicians from Verwoerd to De Klerk. The NP is known as the architects and pioneers of apartheid in South Africa.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Section C 8. Prevailing Challenges for the Church in the current state As one of the main institutions within civil society, and especially as one deeply concerned about those values which are fundamental to the well-being of a just democratic society, the church has a particularly important responsibility and role in nurturing a democratic culture without which democracy cannot be sustained. De Gruchy 1995: 218

8.2 Political Climate 8.2.1 Legacy of Authoritarianism Moeletsi Mbeki (2009: 73), political analyst and brother of the former President Thabo Mbeki, in his book Architects of Poverty quotes Karl Marx as saying, “in any given epoch the dominant ideas in a particular society are the ideas of that society's dominant class or classes�. He further highlights the two dominant elites in the post-apartheid South African society – the economic oligarchy (the major industrial and mineral corporations) and political elite (largely made up of the ANC politicians). It is in this grouping that the true power exists in the modern South African state. Mbeki continues to observe that the political will of the South African politician is no different from that of the rest of Africa with the potential for authoritarianism and economic oppression, but the difference is the balance maintained by the indigenous bourgeoisie and vibrant civil society perpetuated by unionised labour. The vulnerability of the political climate of SA is evident in the continued suspicion of its politicians on accusations of corruption and neglect of the masses. The Arms Deal saga brought to the fore the questionability of the integrity of the political elite within the ANC. In this sense how repressible is authoritarianism?

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Dr. Francis Schaeffer (1976: 228) who predicted the rise of an authoritarian state whose primary strength is not in the models of Stalin and Hitler but rather of a “manipulative authoritarian government.” This speaks to the heart of modern partisan politics in South Africa. The use of manipulation in politics is obviously nothing new, but it becomes strikingly powerful when people are conditioned through the media while politicians capitalise on the predictability of the conditioned psyche. Dr. Mamphela Ramphele (2008: 111) clearly addresses this issue in saying, “the ghost of authoritarianism needs to be acknowledged as a dominant facet of our traditional political culture (this primarily inherited from colonialists)”. She further continues to note that: “Characteristics of this culture (authoritarianism) are hierarchies that privilege leaders as the source of ideas and initiatives; rewards for loyalty to the party line rather than for encouraging vigorous debate within the party; predominance of the seniority principle when it comes to attaching weight to different views within the institution. In our political culture, party loyalty trumps loyalty to the state and the citizens it is meant to serve.” Many even within ANC ranks felt that the Mbeki era was highly authoritarian in its approach leaving very little room for debate as opposed to that of Mandela. Allan Boesak (2009: 314) in his new book Running with Horses refers to an article he wrote in Die Burger where he was interpreting the words of Jeremy Cronin (former SACP intellectual and ANC MP) says: “The main thrust of Cronin’s argument is that Mbeki himself is becoming more and more of a dictator, a more sophisticated version of Robert Mugabe, if you will, stifling any criticism or critical debate with the ANC as well as in the Alliance, isolating himself from not only those within the leadership who disagree with him, but also from the masses who supported the ANC. Thabo Mbeki is displaying ‘Stalinist tendencies, a term Cronin uses quite deliberately in the interview.” Politicians emerge in the public space at the time for elections and

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


bombard society with impressive manifestos and promises that lure the interest of the common person only to disappear after the election leaving much to be desired in the fulfilment of those promises. This form of manipulation leaves very little room for the observance of just values within the political process. Credit, however, must be give to the democratic advances that the ANC has implemented to ensure that immediate history, as witnessed with apartheid and even colonialism, does not repeat itself. This ideal can be vulnerable to the unforeseen development of new threats to democracy. Ramphele (2008: 118) argues that: It is hard to recognize any reflection of ubuntu in some areas of the public service where one is confronted with the abuse of power by officials, from the most junior to seniors…One of the manifestations of authoritarian political culture is the ambivalence towards civil society on the part of many members of our government. There seems to be a view that the government has to be seen to be in control. Boesak’s (2009: 249) definition of what he terms “Unremembering” speaks to the heart of the dilemma when he states, “Unremembering is a deliberate political act for reasons of domestication and control in which people’s history, or their memory, is falsified, rewritten or denied. This process is not a confluence of accidental political factors, nor is it the result of inevitable political shift. It is an act of appropriation.” This he speaks of regarding the historical input of the Church in ending apartheid that has now seemingly has been forgotten to such an extent that the church has almost been pushed to the fringes of political activism. It is precisely this movement, whether wilfully or unwillingly that now seems to be bemoaned concerning the morality of our political leadership. What could possibly be informing the moral vision of the current political leadership? Moss Nthla (2009), general secretary of TEASA, in an interview states that, “the misunderstanding that the end of apartheid meant the church

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


must vacate the political space and let politicians do their job, was widespread. It was articulated, in the period immediately after 1994, by no less a prophetic figure than the archbishop Desmond Tutu!” Could it be this misunderstanding that has now come back to haunt the church? Now that the storm of apartheid has gone, could it be that the new government sees no need for the services of the church as it now has finally achieved its goal? Or perhaps has the church resorted to its congregational task leaving the governmental responsibilities to partisan politics and civil servants? Is the church perhaps finding itself out of depth with the emergence of a new form of authoritarianism?

8.3 Reflection on the South African Council of Churches and The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa

8.3.1 The South African Council of Churches (SACC) The SACC is third in line of inter-denominational organisations in South Africa. First was the General Missionary Conference, founded in 1904 and replaced in 1936 by the Christian Council of South Africa. It was this latter body that decided to change its name and structure. The major discussion for the meeting centred around the constitution and how it best could reflect in practical terms that the Council was a Council of South African Churches. (SACC website) The face of the “ecumenical movement in South Africa” has been worn by the SACC from deep within the period of the struggle against apartheid. At the helm as general secretary was the Archbishop Desmond Tutu who was in his own right a troublesome figure for the apartheid regime. The vigour and heart in which SACC fought against apartheid was felt even by the regime itself. De Gruchy (2004: 189) states that, “Recognizing the threat that the SACC and Tutu presented both inside the country and abroad in providing Christian theological and moral support for the liberation struggle, the state

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


eventually in 1983 appointed Eloff Commission of inquiry to investigate its activities.� Throughout these times the SACC persisted though such bodies as Beyers Naude’s Christian Institute were banned. Naude himself also later became general secretary succeeding Tutu. Upon the advent of the new democratic dispensation SACC has had to reinvent itself in relevant ways. Many who lament the silence of the church would perhaps rather be implying the perceived silence of this body. Part of this reinvention has meant that the SACC needs now to build capacity within itself in order to no long just be a critical voice to the government but to produce solutions and advice to the new government towards social issues. This is why therefore the SACC has established its Parliamentary office. What has been the impact of this initiative? This is hard to guess. Those involved in these activities witness to the fact that their voices are heard in every respect and are taken seriously by the lawmaker. However, whether the process also has much of an impact back on life in the churches is even more difficult to determine (Smit 2007: 67). In addition to this, the SACC is also involved in a wide range of other activities dealing with many urgent social issues, but similar comments probably apply to their present impact on church life [and the life of the general populous] in the country (ibid 67).

8.3.2 The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA) The amalgamation of what used to be known as the Concerned Evangelicals (which was predominantly black) and the Evangelical Fellowship of South Africa (which was predominantly white) in 1995 saw to the formation of what is now known as The Evangelical Association of South Africa. Unlike the ecumenical SACC, TEASA has sought to consolidate the evangelical voice in South Africa. TEASA also has a less decorated history of social activism against apartheid as the SACC does. In fact, TEASA general secretary Moss Nthla was one of the confessants during the 1997 Truth and

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Reconciliation Commission (TRC) East London Faith Communities Hearing on behalf of evangelical churches in South Africa. TEASA, just as it is with the SACC, is yet to live up to the expectation of a critical Christian voice in South Africa post apartheid whose impact is felt through out the general populous of the country. However, evangelicalism would have to get over its inferiority complex and deepen its tools of analysis, as well as invest more in its capacity for study and research. Serious policy influence requires no less (Nthla 2009). This recognition is what will be critical in the evolution of the body for the future.

Section D 9. The church and moral degeneration “The only authentic basis, as we intend to show of all Christian ethics, and indeed of all human ethics, is man's obligation as God's creature to live his life in accordance with the will of God, to whom he is answerable for all that he does.� Hughes 1983: 12

9.1 African traditional codes of morality . The establishment of the Moral Regeneration Movement was one of the many attempts to engage the deteriorating sense of morality in South Africa. This became evident with the rise in violent criminal activities, white collar crimes, rape, corruption, spread of HIV/AIDS, etc. Even more surprising though is the fact that politicians have been quick to term all these deficiencies an inheritance of the apartheid regime. It may have been so to a certain extent, but when truth of human fallenness stares us in the face, blame is easier than repentance. The fundamental question to ask here is what moral basis has such initiatives been calling South Africans to return to?

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


It was largely the Mbeki era that saw the call to what has been termed the African Renaissance. This return to Africanness bore also the return to African cultural values. One of the speakers at the first 1998 African Renaissance Conference in Johannesburg, Lesiba Teffo (1999: 168), stated that, “Where lies the anchor of this African Renaissance? Arguably it lies in moral renewal through African values.� As already noted, preceding the colonial era, Africans had moral codes that enabled them to attempt building peaceful and just societies apart from what Christianity later brought in. Modern writers have tended to view South Africa in light of its modernised or rather westernised development. It is inescapable that much of South Africa still remains highly rooted in African philosophy at its core which begins to interpret into the basic understanding of the various codes of morality. Morality derives from the Latin word Mos, plural Mores which means customs or people's values and traditions, people's heritage or ways of life and conduct in a given community. Moral values vary from community to community and from time to time. Among people who share a common heritage or have similar cultures or religious beliefs, some of these values cut across sections of the various communities. Within the societies of Black Africa, there is a shared sense of morality that is similar in many aspects and based on the key concept of Ubuntu. (Waliggo 2005:1)

Morality and religion are intertwined as much as religion is with philosophy. Although morality speaks of the shared values of understanding right and wrong, religion on the other hand provides the basis for explaining the source of these values while philosophy explores the reason for the necessity of these values. Secular modernity has taken a hold of the South African public but not before the traditional beliefs of what is right and wrong. These traditional beliefs, whether fundamentally weak or strong, remain deeply entrenched. What is perhaps more appealing in the African context is that while most socalled developed countries have discarded, at a high price, some of these values [justice, respect,

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


tolerance, compassion etc.], in Africa they are still evergreen, though some with necessary modifications (Teffo 1999: 154). One popular value still persists – ubuntu. The premise of the traditional value of ubuntu can fail to be objective because it is humanitarian and humanistic (both man-centred) in nature missing the Divine element (Theo-centric) and commission. This is the major missing link of secularised ubuntu. It is precisely Prof. Barney Pityana's (Makgoba 144: 1999) definition of ubuntu that better gives an explicit understanding in saying, “ubuntu is reference to human solidarity.” There have been several attempts to develop full-scale social theories of ubuntu, proposals for doing business or even a philosophical moral theory (Smit 2007: 119).The major question on this is whether ubuntu can replace the role of the church as a generator of a public ethic? One of the profound pillars of the Christian ethic is that it was exemplified by the life of Christ himself, while ubuntu falls short of this dimension. Whilst many people are desperate for salvation from their varied situations, very few people are looking for a Saviour to deliver them from themselves. The problem of South African morality rests not so much on the external facets of humanity, as exemplified by solidarity as a component of ubuntu, but rather the internal corruption of sinfulness. Though this may sound somewhat fundamentalist, it comes to the fore as people bypass all legal, constitutional and even human rights regulations to attain personal glory. The nature of human sinfulness corrupts all forms of social contracts as individuals seek what Schaeffer (1976: 205) has prophetically term personal peace and affluence. We can no longer deny the individualization of the South African society and its movement towards upward mobility as a social ideal. Moral transformation may not be possible unless people’s philosophical, idealistic and even spiritual paradigms shift towards the work of the Saviour whose salvafic work transforms people internally to the external so they can transform their contexts. The task of the church transcends mere ubuntu and thus

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


cannot be replaced by ubuntu. Though beautified, ubuntu alone can hardly stand as the soul of the nation unless it is applied within the biblical framework.

4.3 Liberal Democracy and the Media The democratic era presents a new dimension to the ethical framework of South Africa. Though the causality of moral decay cannot be pinpointed to one dynamic, every narrator has a particular point of view from which they speak. The concepts of freedom and liberal democracy as engraved in the constitution have undoubtedly shaped the new framework in which South Africans conduct their lives. Coupled with this is the philosophical understanding of moral relativism. This is where what I may define as good: maybe good for me but the next person has both a personal and constitutional right to view it differently from me. In the modern secular South Africa, the only absolute morals are those upheld by the constitutional and legal legislations. The new sacred canopy rather seems to be provided by liberal democracy, strongly individualistic human rights and highly regarded constitution (Smit 2007: 73). The church has thus found itself no longer the bearer of absolute truth in a secular society as people find comfort in other spiritual beliefs and exercises. The only thing worth fearing is the law of which in some cases even this can be remedied by financial payouts. The media is a powerful entity in shaping public opinion and popular culture which in turn can possess a direct impact on public morality. It is much easier for people to believe and embrace what they read or see in television than the very reality in which they live in. The advance of negative journalism has done little to promote the good happening in the country across the board especially that which is being done by the church. What seem to sells are ominous events, controversial lifestyles as well the promotion of popular culture. Christians and churches are not seen to be part of the mainstream of voices forming and informing public opinion in South Africa today. In a way this is remarkable, since by far the majority of

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


citizens are confessing Christians and probably deeply religious, but then again there are good reasons explaining this trend, including the privatized role of religion in modern, secular societies (Smit 2007: 73). Christians in turn have opted to take up popularizing Christianity through its own media means. Such can be seen with Ray McCauley’s Rhema Television, the Eastern Cape franchise of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and numerous radio and magazine publications. 1.Just because the church receives limited publicity from mainstream media does not mean that it is not involved to an extent is not actively involved in matters of public transformation. The churches’ involvement in welfare and developmental issues is quite evident in the work of faith-based-organisations (FBOs). The major challenge to be identified here facing the church is to present its moral package as the absolute in a secular and religiously plural society.

4.2.2. Sidelining of the Christian imperative : Reflections on the Moral Regeneration Movement Boesak (2009: 339) further speaking of what he terms “Unremembering” that has seemingly taken a hold of the ruling party pertaining to its relationship with and the central role of the church. Throughout the struggle against apartheid, he argues, what informed the moral vision of the ANC was the spirituality provided by the church as it too was actively involved in the struggle. What now seems to have occurred is that the ruling party finds shame in being associated with the church? This manifests in the Kader Asmal attack on the church pertaining to the 2001 Newlands prayer meeting in which Boesak (ibid 2009: 246-257) wrote a response letter. Furthermore, Colin Fibiger (2002: 2-3), local councillor at the Nelson Mandela Metro, giving a report upon his attendance of the Moral Regeneration Movement launch leaves this impression:

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


My overall opinion is one of disappointment, both at a perceived lack of genuine concern for the restoration of moral fibre in society, as well as the blatant additional agenda of restoring an “African Spirituality”, which is no more than an attempt, at bringing about a new “one world religion” which lacks any depth or level of conviction. He further continues to reflect on his experience as he tried to advocate his options: I attempted to make a positive input, but once it was clear that I was coming from a Biblical viewpoint, my voice was quickly avoided. My proposal to adhere to Biblical values was first ignored and then changed to “religious values”. My objection to this alteration was shot down saying that this was not a religious forum. Close to us however, in the National Group Discussion, Prof Ntuli spoke about the equilibrium between spirit and nature, and sang a praise song to Jacob Zuma. Machilo Motsehi, a lady from the African Renaissance Chapter made it clear that she was not alone, but had been accompanied by her ancestors. Dual standards such as this were the norm of the day and are indicative of our fast failing democracy and transparency. The message of the day was clear – come with any viewpoint, from any perspective, but do not do so from a true Christian viewpoint. This seeming shame of the post-apartheid government and secular society to be associated with the church that was so crucial to the removal of the apartheid regime is somewhat shocking.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


As its vision, the movement aims to build an ethical and moral community with a mission to promote positive values. The movement also draws quite extensively on the ideal of ubuntu as expounded upon by Nelson Mandela. As the initiative developed under the Mbeki era, with deputy president Jacob Zuma in the driving seat of the movement, it began to take a more formalised and structured shape. It was registered as a not-for-profit organisation and structures were set up in all nine provinces. The attempts of the Moral Regeneration Movement are admirable but when dealing with human nature it becomes a cause different from others. Interfaith mobilisation to curb moral degeneration is undoubtedly an invention of our modern pluralistic society but as to whether it actually produces the kind of result necessary is highly questionable as so far it has failed to produce these results in the South African context. Grassroots social movement have done more to fight social ills then top down initiatives as was the case with the ANC as a grassroots social movement. Has the church willingly taken this sidelining by the government somewhat lightly? What do we make of the public rebuke of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu by the ruling party after his scolding of Jacob Zuma pertaining to his pursuit of the presidency despite facing criminal charges (Bearak 2009: 1)? Can the silence of the church be attributed to its sidelining from mainstream public sector using it only as a campaigning entity? A better platform for the prophetic voice of the church, while avoiding the temptation of Constantinianism, is that rather employed by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and The South African Evangelical Alliance (TEASA). Such bodies still operate independently from the government but are able to engage government critically. The nature of their impact is of course relative as some feel these bodies are either ineffective or puppetted by the government.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Section E 10. The church and development “The historical role of the churches in South Africa is contested. On the one hand, there is evidence that suggests that churches are trusted institutions, much involved in serving the poor and hence perceived positively by the population. On the other hand, similarly pervasive evidence exists that the churches inhibit change, are reluctantly involved with the poor and vulnerable people, and that they supported apartheid.� Johannes C. Erasmus

10.1 Development and service delivery backlog The current service delivery backlog which is continuously triggering tensions between government and civil society, speaks to the heart of the development crisis. The service delivery issues, which climaxed in the xenophobic attacks, in which many believed that our African neighbours were in actual fact stealing jobs from deserving South Africans, are increasingly becoming unbearable. Due to the current global economic recession, unemployment in South African stands at an overwhelming 23.9% according to Statistics SA (www.statssa.gov.za). President Jacob Zuma, in his 2009 State of the Nation Address, has promised to provide about four million jobs by 2014 and 500 000 jobs by the end of 2009. It is such promises that raise the hopes and expectations of the unemployed poor South Africans. Whether such optimism can actually materialize is something to be contended. As many of those who had been promised RDP housing by the Mandela administration of 1994 are still cueing on waiting lists (Luhanga 2008: 1). The involvement of the church in grassroots social action gives us a rather different antithesis pertaining to the question of its silence. The importance of religion in South Africa is also reflected in the number

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


and significance of faith-based organisations in civil society. For example, an online search of the national Department of Social Welfare non-profit organisation database reveals that of the registered organisations in the country, faith-based organisations constitute the fifth highest of seventeen categories at 4 814 or 12 per cent. Only the categories of ‘social services’, ‘development and housing’, ‘education and research’ and ‘health’ were higher (Piper 2009: 60). Bowers Du Toit (2009: 7) states that, “It is clear that a greater need for partnership is not only confined to “intra-church” partnerships. There is a definite need for local congregations and FBOs to co-operate to a greater extent with government welfare services”. With reference to recent studies, she notes that, “regarding the importance of the role of the church in social welfare and development in South Africa, the study points out that the church is able to mobilize far more people than any other social movement and reach all sectors of society, is better positioned than the state to address issues of moral decay, has the greatest level of trust than any other institution in society and contributes more than the state to social welfare”. The church has been at the forefront of welfare and infrastructural development in South Africa for decades now. However, the role of the South African Church pre-democracy with regard to welfare provision and social justice is a complex one – owing to the dividedness of South African society and complex state-church interactions throughout this period (Bowers Du Toit 2009: 9). This dual legacy has left the church in tension with itself and with the secular society that questions the church as relevant to modern developmental ideologies and the liberal nature of the state. The churches’ ability to mobilize its resources to meet the needs of the poor has enabled it to build such soft infrastructures as church halls (which were often used as community centres), schools, hospitals and clinics. The church did this out of obedience to scripture before philanthropy became fashionable. Not only are most South Africans religious, indeed Christian, but there are multiple faith-based

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


organisations, many of which have significant social power. This makes the faith-based sector potentially one of the most powerful components of civil society in South Africa, as well as in Africa and other postcolonial regions (Piper 2009: 50). The church reflected the power of Christ who exercised his power through servitude. True power in this sense is when those who have the means and resources choose to empower those who do not have equal privileges. It is this understanding of power that has throughout the ages enabled the church to be constantly involved in reaching out to the poor. It is also to be said that the church is largely involved in what Swart (2006: 5) terms the first generation where primacy is given to relief and charity work. Is it perhaps the churches’ limited theological paradigm that limits it from engaging even to the fourth generation? With church being such a powerful and dynamic entity in the development process, is it perhaps

SECTION F 11. Three interpretative dimensions of ‘civilising power’ 11.1Connecting the Three: The relationship between politics, development and morality as being influenced by the church and its public theology is that of: politics impacting society from the top down, development impacting society from the bottom up and morality providing the character of this impact. It is within these three spheres

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


that the role of the impact of the church can be most felt in any given community. The silence of the church can have equally evasive implications as we have seen in modern South Africa. Exploitation, corruption, crime, xenophobia, poverty, inequality are all reflective of a people living in the dark and in need of the salt Christ has intended the church to become. The major challenge facing the church today is its call to speak into the power relations. It is precisely in this power arena of politics, development and even morality that society laments the silence of the church. “As one of the main institutions within civil society, and especially as one deeply concerned about those values which are fundamental to the well-being of a just democratic society, the church has a particularly important responsibility and role in nurturing a democratic culture without which democracy cannot be sustained (De Gruchy 1995: 218).” I will now propose my very own theoretical framework of observation towards the transformative role for the church in South Africa. This is done through the analysis of the concept of “civilizing power.” The notion of ‘civilising power’ is virtually a dynamic and engaging one. It is often used as a descriptive phrase for the tasks of a particular entity such as “the civilising power of art or education.” Despite its vibrant yet controversial etymological use as a descriptive concept it holds within itself a fairly adequate stance as a theory of observation for the task of development. It is the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 2000 that defines the term “civilise” as “to educate and improve a person or society; to make somebody’s behavior or manners better.” Sociologists Popenoe & Cunningham (1998: 348-349) define “power” as “the capacity of people or groups to control or influence the actions of others, whether those others wish to cooperate or not. Power can also be exercised less directly by controlling and manipulating information, attitudes and feelings.”

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Power is essentially a developmental problem. Wilson and Ramphele (1989: 258) correctly states that, “Power lies at the heart of the problem in southern Africa. Without it those who are poor remain vulnerable to an ongoing process of impoverishment.”

11.2. Educating power – the act of educating or improving power This first dimension refers to the theoretical understanding of power as it relates to its output in the development process. The foremost question of the first dimension is, what is the theoretical understanding of power that informs how it is used and how can this be altered to reflect a more empowering implementation? More simply, this is the task of making power more civilised? A better way of expanding on this point is to view it in the sense that, if power is not civilized, it has the potential to be destructive or oppressive. Power here is posed as the controlling factor as already mentioned, therefore, those who hold power should wield it in a civilised (empowering or educating) manner. This in itself is based on the theoretical understanding of power by those who have it. The need for power to be civilized is a continuous process guided by keeping those in power accountable. If power is to serve the good of the people it must constantly be civilized (educated or informed) by its very context. “Successful institutions evolve out of specific national realities, and successful states evolve by doing, failing, and learning, not by importing institutions or policies from elsewhere (Green 2009: 92).” The colonialists approach to sub-Saharan Africa should continue to be greatly rebuked even within the church. Bosch (1995: 227) states that, “European Christians met people who were not only physically, but also culturally and linguistically very different from them. One of the most appalling consequences of this was the imposition of slavery on non-Western people.” This is precisely due to the fact that colonialists wielded power that was not civilized but rather full of racism, prejudice, oppression and sexism. This is also inclusive of the apartheid regime in that, had their power been civilised it would in

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


actual fact educate (empower) and improve the people or societies in which it was being implemented. The task of civilised power has to bear outcomes that improve the livelihoods of others. Bowers Du Toit (2009: 97) highlights the imperative of the dialogue between theory and praxis. This is undoubtedly the primary premise in which development begins as employed towards the welfare of any society. Understanding dominant theories of development and use of power in a given society will inform us of the outcomes of that particular developmental process. This was seen with the theory of “separate development� which then enforced segregation and racism. The understanding of power has a direct impact on how that power will be used. Since development includes the attempt to equalize power relations (whether socio-political or economic power) within a society in order for the poor to realise their own development, it becomes important to have a fairly appropriate understanding of true power. Power can be found in both micro and macro spheres of social life. The prevalence of child and woman abuse in South Africa is in fact a manifestation of uneducated power being exercised within the family structure. Political parties across the spectrum fare no better. Young women are most at risk of being discounted; given the dynamic interplay between sexism and authoritarianism that defines leadership as the prerogative of adult males (Ramphele 2008: 114). If anything, power that is civilised should also be transformational. Development that is transformational, therefore, highlights the issue of a recovery of dignity and identity of the poor which lies at the heart of the powerlessness and vulnerability that the poor experience (Du Toit 2005). The church and its understanding of true power as modeled by the life and teachings of Christ need to step up to the task of informing and educating power in South Africa. It is only when the church takes up this challenge that the political understanding of power will be redefined. Though this may sound ideological or rather utopia, it is precisely ideology that enables us to pursue and dream of a better world

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


not governed by ignorance, racism, sexism, oppression and crime. South African politics and society at large needs a new understanding of power that can be provided by the church.

11.3. Civilising power – transference of power to civil society The second dimension of “civilising power” extends to what could be regarded as the democratization of power. This is the more practical interpretative dimension. It answers the question of who should have the power. This dynamic simply refers to the movement of power from a centralized government to civil society. More formally, the development sector has termed it participatory development where the poor are regarded as partners in the development process. It is this understanding that drives the sustainable livelihoods approach to development where the primary inquiry is that of identifying what has enabled the survival of the local people before intervention and thus building from that. Like other tools of development policy, decentralization requires well-organised, confident social movements that can press for accountability and avoid co-optation by local elites, as well as government commitment and capacity to move funding and technical resources to the local level: in other words, an active citizenry and an effective state (Green 2009: 101). It is the 1955 Freedom Charter that declares, “The people shall govern!” Bureaucratic politics capitalise on inactive citizenry. Until people feel they are active participants in the democratic process (not merely electoral) it is most likely that they will continue to depend on government for their own development. “Common to a variety of definitions of citizenship is the reciprocal relationship between rights and duties (Ramphele 2008: 126).” Green (2008: 19) speaks of an active citizenship and effective states as key players that enable proper development. Ultimately, active citizenship means engaging with the political system to build an effective state, and assuming some degree of responsibility for the public

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


domain, leaving behind simple notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’. It is only when citizens shift from apathy to activism that they begin to reclaim their dignity and worth. The key to what both Ramphele (2008: 126) and Green (2008: 19) are referring to is responsibility or duties. The problem with representative politics is the shifting of responsibility from the individual to a public or political representative. In the end, people feel that the government owes them the improvement of their livelihoods. So long as people feel they have the rights but politicians or government has the responsibility, conflict and moral decay is inevitable. What brought down apartheid was that the average person felt they had the not only the right but the duty or responsibility to themselves and generations to come to take down the oppressive system. Bowers Du Toit (2005: 92) makes this link in saying, “Social, economic and political powerlessness are often at the root of such statistics [referring to violence, corruption etc.], which is not surprising considering that SA has the second highest inequality gap in the world.” The undeniable link between social responsibility and social behavior helps us to understand the need for power to be returned to civil society in order to curb a lot of the prevailing social ills. As already indicated before in this paper, the church played crucial role during the struggle by not only supporting the spirituality of the struggle, but also mobilising the masses towards achieving the goal of democracy. It is precisely this mobilising role that could once again be employed by the church towards social ills. This is the attempt of not only making people aware of their rights but their responsibilities towards themselves, others as well as the environment. The same could be said with the church educating civil society in what they should look for when selecting public representatives. In this sense the activation of citizenry entails vast possibilities towards improving society.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


11.4. Transforming power - power as a tool for development The first dimension informs us of the theoretical framework of power that needs to be continuously kept accountable and educated by its context whilst the second relates to the practical application of power through participatory development. This third dimension speaks more of capacity and ability of power to civilise (educates or improves)? It speaks of power as a reality in enforcing development. Much of this can be referred to the advocacy or lobbying of power resources towards development. “Of all the institutions that exercise power over people’s lives, it is the state that is capable of channeling the power of individual initiative and market toward long-term development goals (Green 2009: 21).” Government and the private sector have the power to enforce transformative empowerment by partnering with the poor but their attention has to be constantly lobbied towards the right causes. Power and politics will determine whether the world can build on the extraordinary pace of political and social change of the twentieth century in order to eradicate extreme poverty and tackle inequality and injustice (Green 2009:19). Even with this understanding Wilson & Ramphele (1989: 309) are quick to point out that, “One lesson learnt from Africa independence is the painful truth of the realisation that the state can be taken over by an elite group within society that, although mouthing other truths, manipulates its power to serve its own ends rather than those of all the people, particularly those who are poor.” In the globalizing world, power has been divided between two entities; the political and the economic as Mbeki (2009: 73) earlier noted. These two sources of power can establish positive or negative processes of development within society. The competitive international environment of the 21 st century is not kind to those who cannot compete in the market place of skills, ideas, goods, services and positions of power (Ramphele 2008: 145). These two towers of power hold the undisputed capacity, financial resources and abilities to improve the livelihoods of the poor. Black Economic Empowerment is a typical example of

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


institutional ability to drive the economic structure of society. Though there are disputed arguments around this policy, the key point is that it was in forced by people of power hoping to establish some form of empowerment. This interpretative dimension is inevitably informed by those who hold power and their understanding of power. It in actual fact cannot be positively exercised apart from the previous two dimensions. This is due to that fact that the theoretic dimension (which asks how?) and the participatory dimensions (which asks who?) are vital in the process of power enforcing positive change (which asks what are the prevailing outcomes?). Advocacy and lobbying are precisely mechanisms that have thus far successfully injected a people focused conscience in both the political and economic will of the powerful. Ranging from social movements, religious bodies, labour unions, etc. it is these bodies that have over the year conscientise both the politic and economic oligarchy towards a more civilized use of power. Christian involvement in policy formation and advocacy can only enrich this process of balancing the unequal ends of power in society. It can allow those in power to refashion the use of their economic and political power in an attempt to empower those who are poor and vulnerable. It is the conscientisation of the powerful towards the powerless.

12. Conclusion Boesak (2005: 133) quotes the former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel as saying, “What worries me the most of the church in the past ten years, is that it became silent.� Is the church in South Africa silence? It is almost certain that the Church is not as prophetically active as it could be. This is to an extent due to the prevailing challenges within the church as well as the pluralistic and globalising secular society. Despite this, it is all too evident that the church is more needed now than it ever was before. The South

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


African church is functioning in a different format than it did during apartheid in relation to the public sphere. The silence spoken of should be categorically aligned to the churches' activism during the apartheid era. In this sense, the argument that the church is silence, is viewed from the lenses of its prior activism as well as its potential due to its biblical commission to “disciple nations” into the likeness of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). Though many factors are hindering the church from exercising it full potential, it is also important to note that though the church may not be as vocal as it should be, it certainly is doing a lot on the practical level of relief and social welfare. In matters of hope, which informs out political imagination for the future, we can’t help but be idealistic. In matters of faith, which informs the life and morality of our context, we can’t help but be both polemic and apologetic. In matters of love, which tie us to the very people we come from and the growth, welfare and emancipation of these people, we can’t help but be practical.

Bibliography Swart, I. 2006 The church and the Development debate: Perspectives on a Fourth Generation Approach. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS Boesak, A. 2003. Tenderness of Conscience. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS Maxwell, J. C. 1998. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Koopman, N. 2003. Some Comments on Public Theology. in Journal of Theology for South Africa. Nov. No.117 3-19 Smit, D. J. 2007. No ulterior motive – and public theology?.139 - 155 In Essays in public Theology. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS Moltmann, J. 1999. God for a Secular Society: The Public Relevance of Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press Bosch, D. J. 1991. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shift in Theology of Mission. New York: Orbis Books De Gruchy, J. W. 2004. The church struggle in South Africa.(25th Anniversary Edition) Minnepolis: Fortress Press Picard, L. A. 2005. The State of the State: Institutional Transformation, Capacity and Political Change in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press Ramphele, M. 2008. Laying the Ghosts to Rest: Dilemmas of the Transformation in South Africa. Cape Town: Tafelberg De Gruchy, J. W. 1995. Christianity and Democracy. Claremont: David Phillips Publishers Elphick, R. & Davenport, R. 1997. Christianity in South Africa: A Political, Social & cultural History. Claremont: David Phillips Publishers MacMaster, L. L. M. 2008. Where have all the Pastors Gone? A case for Public Pastoral Care in a Democratic South Africa Experiencing Growth Pains. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. 3 – 15 November 132 Erasmus, C. J. 2009. Double Legacy: Percpective on Social Welfare and Religion Agents in the New South Africa. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 41 – 58 March 133 Swart, I. 2009. Meeting the Rising Expectations? On local Churches as organisation s of Social welfare in South Africa. . Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 76 – 94 March 133 Fokas, E. 2009. Welfare at the Intersection between Theology and Politics: A Global Perspective. . Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 126 – 144 March 133 Pettersson, P & Le Mon, M. M. 2009 A European Perspecive on the Church’s Role as Social Agents in South Africa. . Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 111 – 125 March 133 Fink, Arlene. 1998. Conducting Research Literature Reviews. Carlifornia: SAGE Publications, Inc. Shevel, A. 2009 http://www.whitecollarcrime.co.za/news.php?10 [accessed 1 June 2009] Mbola, B. 2008. http://www.southafrica.info/business/economy/development/lfs-280308.htm [accessed 1 June 2009]

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/2008/08020811021001.htm [accessed 1 June 2009] The Times 2009. ANC roots in the Church. http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=959634 Kretzschmar, L. 1986. The Voice of Black Theology in South Africa. Johannesburg: Raven Press "A Talk Upon My Native Land. http://www.sahistory.org.za/pages/library-resources/articles_papers/karis/Karis_v1_ %20pt2%20doc19%20.htm Schaeffer, F. 1976. How then Shall We Live? New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company Symington, J. 2005. South African Christian Handbook. Bloemfontein: Tydskriftemaatskappy van die NG Kerk (TM) Mbeki, M. 2009. Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism needs Changing. Johannesburg:Picador Africa Waliggo, J. M. 2005 Law and Public Morality in Africa: Legal, Philosophical and Cultural Issues. The ALRAESA Annual Conference Mbiti, J. S. 2002. African Religions and Philosophy. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd. Hughes, P. E. 1983. Christian Ethics in Secular Society. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Makgoba, M. W. 1999. African Renaissance. Cape Town: Mafube Publishing Limited Bowers Du Toit, N. 2009. Theology and Praxis: Friends, Foes and Mere Acquaintances? A Case Study from Paarl. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa Erasmus, J. C 2009. Double Legacy: Perceptions of Churches as Welfare Agents in the New South Africa .Journal of Theology for Southern Africa Wallis, J. 2005. God’s Politics: A New Vision for Faith and Politics in America. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Green, D. 2009. From Poverty to Power: How active citizens and effective states can change the world. Auckland Park, South Africa: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd. Popenoe & Cunningham. et. Al. 1998. Sociology. (1st. ed.). South Africa: Prentice Hall South Africa (Pty) Ltd.

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Senior Project Paper

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa


Senior Project Paper

Faith, Politics and Development: The silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa

Faith, Politics and Development: the Silence of the Church in the New Democratic South Africa  

Bridging the gap between faith, politics and development in post apartheid South Africa

Advertisement