We welcome the relentless efforts and decisive leadership shown by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) to address the demon of corruption in our country. The development and prosperity of our country depends on us exorcising the corruption in the veins of both the public and the private sector that continues to rob the lives of many poor South Africans.
In an attempt to add to the country’s interventions of exorcising corruption the SACC has established a special panel of eminent persons led by its President, Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa to allow politicians and others to come forward and reveal information about corruption and state capture. The panel is called the “Unburdening Panel”, based on the Bible text that says: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal.6:2)”.
On 18 May 2017, the panel released its scathing findings on “state capture” and in the words of ANC Stalwart, Reverend Frank Chikane “… findings of the panel were more serious than expected”. There is a need for decisive leadership to expose the rot of corruption that may have contributed to a credit downgrade to junk of our beloved country if Singapore’s much talked about socio-economic success story is anything to go by.
The Singapore story suggests that there is a strong correlation between the levels of corruption and inclusive economic growth in any country. Simply put, Singapore is regarded as the world’s most successful society and has improved its ranking on graft watchdog Transparency International‘s (TI) Corruption Perception Index moving up a notch from eighth place in 2015 to seventh place in 2016. It is really a story not only to tell, but also to learn from without reminding us of the painful past of apartheid colonialism. Hence, any effort such as the “Unburdening Panel” of the SACC should be welcomed, with both hands, for the prosperity of the country. Surely, one of the key indicators to measure success should be the decline of corruption levels and the rise of moral and ethical leadership in both public and the private sector. I deliberately mention private sector, as a means to challenge the SACC to broaden the scope to include this sector.
I also challenge the SACC to show the same exuberance in dealing with the apparent rise of moral decay in the religious sector, a cornerstone for moral fabric in the society. It is a painful reality that the ushering in of democracy in April 1994 and the subsequent enactment of the Constitution with its sacrosanct Bill of Rights, opened up South Africa to all forms of opportunism to get rich quick.
Unfortunately, the religious sector is not spared from this with a proliferation of churches with seemingly devious intents. More often than not, we witness the exploitation of the poor people by prophets of doom who feed them snakes and grass with the promise that this will miraculously change their poverty stricken conditions for the better. These practices forced the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) to undertake an investigation into the commercialisation of religion and the abuse of people’s belief systems.
The CRL Rights Commission’s report released in October 2016 recommended in part “… broad-scale regulation of religion in South Africa”. This decisive intervention from government’s Chapter 9 institution should have been welcomed by the religious sector rather than attracting detractors citing Section 15 (1) of the Bill of Rights. The most vocal critics are Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) and SA Council for Protection and Promotions of Religions Rights and Freedoms.
Truth be told, whether the CRL Rights Commission recommendations are unconstitutional or not, which I doubt given the fact that protecting the rights of the unsuspecting public cannot be regarded as unconstitutional, the religious community brought this situation onto themselves by allowing morally bankrupt fake pastors to exploit and abuse people’s belief systems in the name of religion. The commission’s detractors sat on their laurels while prophets of doom wreaked havoc and moral degeneration in our country. Now they want to make themselves relevant by challenging what could become a permanent solution to the rising levels of moral decay in our country.
The latest scandal that has wreaked controversy is the arrest of a Nigerian televangelist and Pastor Tim Omotoso who has been charged with human trafficking and the rape of young women. Let me make this probably offensive but truthful observation, the rising levels of human indignity and killing in our society seemingly coincides with the moral decay in the religious sector. The victims of the moral bankruptcy are mostly the same – women and children. I make an appeal to our courts to meet people like Omotoso who left devastating suffering in many families with the full might of the law should he be found guilty of the charges against him. He must rot in jail. Should he get the mercy from the presiding judge and receive a minimum sentence (these things do happen if you care to remember Oscar Pistorius’ controversial sentenced meted out for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp) Omotoso must be deported to Nigeria, period.
I also challenge the SACC, whose decisive actions on the decline of morality in the religious sector are not so visible, to show the same relentless exuberance and leadership which resulted in the formation of the “Unburdening Panel” against corruption in the country. After all it is not only the country, but also their sector which suffers reputational damage. We need all hands on deck to exorcise our beloved country of the disgusting scourge of women and children abuse and all self-respecting men and women should condemn with strongest terms possible the circulation of pornographic videos and pictures which seek to perpetuate the sadistic view that women are sex objects. Perpetrators of such acts should be named and shamed and never be allowed to work near our children. #End Violence against Women and Children. It begins with you dear reader. DM
David Vakalisa Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso Branch and he writes in his personal capacity
Support DAILY MAVERICK & get FREE UBER vouchers every month
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money, though not nearly as much as its absence can cost global community. No country can live and prosper without truth - that's why it matters.
Every Daily Maverick article and every Scorpio exposé is proof of our dedication to this unshakeable mission. Investing in our news media is by far the most effective investment into South Africa's future.
You can support Independent and Investigative journalism by joining Maverick Insider. If you contribute R150 or more per month you will receive R100 back in UBER vouchers. EVERY MONTH until October 2019.
So, if you'd like to help and do something meaningful for yourself and your country, then sign up to become a Maverick Insider. Together we can Defend Truth.
An Oxford University study established that highly religious people and atheists are the least afraid of death.