Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Election Day for South Africans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Election Day for South Africans

Article excerpt

When South Africans head for the polls April 22, they will do so without fear of intimidation and with a legitimate expectation that their national and provincial elections will be fairly contested and conducted.

On Election Day the sun will rise over the soft sands of the KwaZulu-Natal coast with its usual smogless dazzle, and will set with its predictable gold splash across the sands of Camps Bay, Cape Town, after 12 hours of pure shining.

Children in uniforms will walk single file through the Ixopo hills made famous by novelist Alan Paton, which are "grass covered and rolling" and "lovely beyond any singing of it." And the traffic will snarl through the suburbs of Johannesburg with just a tad more frustration as drivers hurry to vote before the start of the workday.

During the several weeks I spend each year in South Africa, I've become acutely aware of the concern of people of all races over some long-standing issues. Is the independence of the judiciary - which has been a proud feature of South African life for decades - in danger? What's being done about declining education standards, farmers' fears about land redistribution, and the government's apparent failure to deliver on housing and jobs? Are leaders falling prey to corruption and losing moral authority?

I draw comfort from the realization that many voters will turn first this week to God, inspired by a recent National Day of Prayer. In many cases they will finger well-worn paperback copies of the Bible, praying with passages that resonate with equal richness in Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English, or the country's seven other official languages: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.... Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit" (Ps. 51:10, 12).

When such voters look back over the "salvation" they have known since apartheid ended 15 years ago, one suspects that many of them will have realized they cannot depend on governments to meet their needs. God does that - willingly and abundantly. They might also have been moved to consider the relation between human law and God's law, and how each operates. …

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