A society without an ontological moral watchdog effectively polices itself – it justifies its own actions to the point where it expresses moral outrage and indignation when questioned on its actions, as is currently playing out on the Nkandla stage:
- Madonsela exceeded her powers[i]
- Sizani accused Madonsela of overstepping her mark[ii]
- The ANC is set to take the DA to court for “spreading malicious lies” about President Jacob Zuma and his Nkandla homestead.[iii]
- Public protector Thuli Madonsela said this week that she had feared for her life [iv]
And so on from various organs of the ANC, the ANCYL, the ANCWL etc.
The new democratic dispensation was crafted by selfless individuals, whose aspirations were to take South Africa back from the brink of civil war and guide her forward to a time of prosperity and normalisation, where the poor and homeless would at last find justice. The crown jewel of this new dispensation was the hard fought for Constitution; as Stephen Grootes so aptly puts it, “….the Constitution, quite deliberately, looks after the minorities.”[v] And by minorities I believe that he is not only referring the numerical minorities but to economic and other disadvantaged minorities – those who always seem to get the rough end of the stick!
One of the remarkable parts of the Constitution is the provision of Chapter 9 institutions – those bodies whose critical role it is to protect democracy; the Public Protector headed by Thuli Madonsela is one such body and while I am sure that Thuli Madonsela does not claim deistic (ontological) qualities (though the ruling party seem to have some godly insights!), she does fulfil a very important role. A role which highlights corruption and maladministration which is to the detriment of the country but the poor in particular.
To vilify the messenger, when the truth is brought into the light, is the despicable tactic of those who know they have done wrong and want to take the spotlight off of themselves. It is an ominous sign and does not bode well for democracy in this country. It also throws a shadow over the future of the Public Protectors office; in their avarice, would not the beneficiaries of the ‘gravy’ want to plug the hole which threatens to stop the flow?
The SACBC[vi] is quite right in expressing concern over the safety of the Public Protectors office – “This is not about Thuli. This is about ensuring that we don’t allow political affiliation to get in the way of an important democratic institution,” Fr Pearson said.[vii] For if the checks and balances of the Constitution are removed, then there is no stopping the fall into a failed state.
Perhaps while taking our Lord’s name in vain[viii], Jacob Zuma might want to reflect on Jesus’ attitude to the poor and disenfranchised and to self-aggrandizement in general! As I have mentioned previously, the words of Christ should echo portentously to those in power: “…Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”[ix]
[i] News 24 – 20140328 (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Madonsela-exceeded-her-powers-group-20140328)
[ii] News 24 – 20140326 (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Madonsela-hits-back-at-ANC-whip-20140326)
[v] (Grootes, 2013)
[vi] South African Catholic Bishops Conference
[vii] (Mathieson, 2014)
[viii] Mail and Guardian – 20140108 (http://mg.co.za/article/2014-01-08-zuma-the-anc-will-rule-forever)
[ix] New King James Version (NKJV) – Matthew 25: 40
- Grootes, S., 2013. S.A. Politics – Unspun. Kenilworth(Cape Town): Mercury an imprint of Burnet Media.
- Mathieson, C., 2014. Church Leaders: We must protect Thuli’s office. The Southern Cross, 26 March, p. 1.