Respect and Equality Must Replace Conflict and Hate Speech

Cape Times (South Africa), September 29, 2008 | Go to article overview

Respect and Equality Must Replace Conflict and Hate Speech


The Conference of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa heard with shock the decision by the national executive committee of the ANC to recall Thabo Mbeki from office before his term expired.

Nevertheless, we welcome the inauguration of President Kgalema Motlanthe and rejoice at his qualities of humility, ability to listen, as well as obvious gifts of reconciliation, as he has till now held together the ANC factions.

We look forward to the work of a Cabinet aimed - not at reinventing the wheel - but ensuring that the nation's Millennium Development Goals will be met by 2014. We take this opportunity to raise the following concerns in the wake of the controversy within the ANC.

We note that the context of Mbeki's recall focused on the ruling by Judge Chris Nicholson that the president had - among others things - not followed due process in terminating the role of Jacob Zuma as deputy president. On the other hand, members of the ruling party - and particularly the ANC Youth League - had made threats against the judiciary if it did not rule in favour of Zuma. These attempts by both camps threaten the independence of the judiciary. This in turn threatens national stability, which - in a constitutional democracy - ought to be based on a respect for, and commitment to, the rule of law.

As with Zimbabwe, South Africa had brokered ongoing paths to peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda and to some extent in Kenya. Our role in foreign relations - by no means an example of burgeoning success at challenging human rights abuses - is, however, seen by some as a model of 21st century constitutional democracy. Its most notable outcomes in Africa have been the brokering of peace in revolutionary contexts with minimal bloodshed when compared with the colonial and apartheid eras.

The eyes of the world - and especially of Africa - will now be focused even more sharply on South Africa. Its safety and security is bound up with that of its neighbouring states. Should our influence in these falter, the political sovereignty of South Africa may count for little, if anything, in our further pursuit of national stability.

The past 14 years have witnessed socio-economic growth and a shift toward a developmental state forged through global and international relations based on social, political and economic choices aimed at building a macro-economic framework for future stability. …

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