[This blog post is one in a series of personal viewpoints of Warehouse Staff members on the Unite Against Corruption March]
Reading through this “anti corruption” march website I’m seeing an anti-ANC march. The problem of South Afrika is bigger than the ANC: we are faced with colonial corruption. Our corruption is older than 1994. This march brings a very wrong idea and misleads the public when it limits corruption to the ANC, while we are still faced with the continuous degrading of the majority of South Afrika.
For me, this is just an example of white techniques to derail focus from the actual and real questions that are currently surfacing South Afrika as far as transformation is concerned. It is a way to brush off the race problem which is the mother of all problems we face as South Afrika. If the church is to include themselves on this march, they are about to lose their integrity on many levels. If the church is to engage on this march, it is to join the white narrative of ANC being the problem of South Afrika, that black people are unable to govern themselves - forgetting that the ANC is trying to fix problems that they themselves didn’t create. The church must also include its own corruption of separate development, where the church in Constantia is a million years apart from the church in Khayelitsha! An anti-corruption march must be an uncomfortable march against the comfortable lives of white people whose narrative of “corruption steals from the poor” detracts from the real narrative, which is “my comfortable life after apartheid is the direct cause for black poverty in South Afrika”.
I think the criticising of the ANC/black government must be left to black people. Reason for that being the subtle narrative behind white people’s critique: The view that everything was fine in South Afrika until Mbeki’s HIV/AIDS saga, everything was fine in South Afrika until Zuma came into the picture…this is a totally distorted view of South Afrika. Not even Tata Tutu has a right to criticize the ANC after they and their TRC fooled our people! The TRC itself was corruption!
The 1994 negotiations and all those who were involved in that were corrupt! And many white people will never utter those words and they will be on that march! Land in the hands of white people is continuous white acceptance of corruption and those corruption cases are not included on this march – why not? If white people, together with the church, are not willing to publicly declare that land in the hands of white people in South Afrika is corruption, then the church must not engage on this march! Only those who have that ability to talk about the corruption of land have the right to be part of this march. Only those who are able to say “all South Afrikan land is stolen property” have the right to say ANC is corrupt. And if we fully understand that the democratic ANC government’s foundation from 1990’s was built on lies/corruption where they failed to answer to the core issues of apartheid and colonialism, then why would this new, post-apartheid corruption of the ANC be that important? Let us not give further excuses to the whites in South Afrika to continue with their racist agendas!
Taking into account all the things that South Afrika has undergone since its transition into democracy, how many things has the church marched for? Why, all of a sudden, would the church even be interested in joining and marching? Is the church being reactionary? Is it out of fear that the church is joining in this march? If it is out of fear, what is it that they are fearing? Why would the church act out of fear? I think the church should only act out of justice, as the church is the justice of God on earth. It is then injustice to talk of one form of corruption and leave the other hanging. Land theft is the greatest crime that has ever been committed against South Afrika, and not to talk on this as corruption is crime. I love Xola Skosana when he says “the courage to stop the carnage in black society does not lie in moralizing people but lies in the courage to dismantle white power and preservation of white privilege whose direct consequence is black pain in all its dimensions and manifestations”. It may be courage to stop the carnage of black people to be part of this march, yet there is the bigger cause of this carnage, which is land!
What should the Church rather be doing?
1) Take care of the poor
The thing is that the church should not be ANC factions that are fighting the ANC, or even outside the ANC, but the church should be caring for the poor. It’s such a shame that the church that has never said a thing in all that has happened in South Afrika post-apartheid but now all of a sudden has something to say about Zuma. They have the audacity to say so-and-so is corrupt yet they (the church) have ignored so much of all that God required of them.
2) Lead the country by modelling restitution (the core to everything)
The Church must now just lead the country in the process of restitution. The white church together with the black church must start to engage on what restitution looks like at an institutional level and help lead the whole country on that, instead of fooling black people whose hopes will be high after this march!
3) Lead the country by modelling Reconciliation
Start modelling reconciliation. Reconciliation only happens between equals. The white church must be aware that true reconciliation will take from them and it will redistribute to the black church.
4) Leave ANC to the black and suffering voters of the ANC
Church, you have nothing to do with the ANC especially now that you have been very useless in our country, you have just been the main cause of every pain and suffering of black South Afrikans. You have been an Opium (as Karl Marx thinks of you) for them! Stop your campaigns against ANC! You saw the Oppenheimer and Rupert article that declared them as the two wealthiest men in South Afrika and you didn’t say a thing! You didn’t say that those two people are the epitome of the biggest problem of South Afrika and you won’t say that! If the church wants to speak truth to power, the right place to start is speaking truth to those who were enriched by apartheid and are continuing to inflict pain in South Afrika today.
The riches that are collectively shared amongst the church, the white church as a collective, could bring such relief to South Afrika. All the money we’re talking about is the money that came as a result of looting during the colonial and apartheid years. Lead the country by availing that money for development in our country!
Other blogposts in this series:
In this short and snappy post, Brian Koela reminds us about who we march as and what that looks like on the day.
This confessional statement by Caroline Powell should be read by all white, Christian South Africans contemplating what God is calling us to in this time in South Africa. She will not answer your question as to whether to march or not, but she will point you in the ways of the Kingdom and engaging with repentance, whether you march or choose not to.
Colleen Saunders believes that the march itself goes against what she and others have been hearing from God around His heart for our country at this time. In this rich piece, she shows us other ways for us to engage with government and other people and institutions of influence.
Craig Stewart writes that at any time and place it is one of the tasks of those who follow Christ to be discerning what the time is and how would God have me act in response to that?
Why Personal Views?
On Wednesday, 30 September, marches will be taking place in at least Pretoria and Cape Town as part of the “Unite Against Corruption” Campaign. Since the public announcement of a march was made, the Warehouse staff have wrestled with God and each other around what opportunities and risks the march avails to the work of the Kingdom of God. We have friends of the Warehouse who are actively involved in mobilising churches for the march, and many people have asked us what the Warehouse’s stance on the march and messaging around it is.
Through some hard, and often painful, reflections and conversations, we have identified that we hold a variety of different views regarding how the church should be involved in addressing the insidious nature of corruption at all levels of society (from individual hearts, to family, church, civil, business and political structures). We have also recognised that we hold a variety of different, and sometimes opposite, views regarding whether churches should be involved in this particular moment of civil action or not. We have felt that the reasons for these views are of deep importance and value in helping us as individual Christians, churches and church structures to be reflective, repentant and active at this time. So, in answer to the question, “what is the Warehouse’s view on the march?”, we offer you a mosaic of different individual’s views as we make up the Warehouse, and hope this will be of help.
Where we are not necessarily in agreement around the march, we are certainly still in deep unity with each other – and particularly with regard to two important starting points on any discussion around corruption:
1. We believe it is critical that, when we as churches define corruption, we do so with a theological and practical understanding that corruption starts in every human heart – and therefore that the first act in fighting corruption is one of humility and repentance – as we ask God to search our hearts and shine a light on anything which is not aligned to His heart, and turn from those thoughts, attitudes and actions.
2. We believe that it is critical that, when we as churches frame discussions on corruption in our country, that we acknowledge that corruption has been overtly present in South African society, with devastating social consequences for the original people of the region since the advent of colonialism 350 years ago, and through the corrupt laws and action of the Apartheid state, and that much work still has to be done to tear down strongholds of power and privilege in our country, and to repair, restitute and restore all that has been lost.
To see more details on what the Church is being called to specifically by the march organisers, go to: www.churchesagainstcorruption.co.za