SACLI’s statement prior to South Africa’s 2019 elections

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

In a month from today, millions of South Africans over the age of 18 will vote in democratic South Africa’s 6th National election. Before that day however, Christians will celebrate Easter on 21 April, the day of “permanent hope” and life over death, and in our national life, we will celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, a day that will remind us of our transition from Apartheid to Democracy.

Before that day however, Christians will celebrate Easter on 21 April, the day of “permanent hope” and life over death, and in our national life, we will celebrate Freedom Day on 27 April, a day that will remind us of our transition from Apartheid to Democracy.

During apartheid, we struggled for a freedom from want, a freedom from fear and a freedom from exclusion and oppression. We did not struggle for a freedom for those we elected to live the high life by stealing that which belong to the poor and to build a new and corrupt elite. This is not what we hope for either.

The election on 8 May is therefore an election to reclaim true freedom, a freedom we sang about with the words: “Freedom isn’t free, freedom isn’t free, we have to pay the price, we have to sacrifice, for our liberty”. It was a costly freedom, and many of our people died and were imprisoned for this freedom, and we should not today trample on their graves or on their memories and hopes with a corrupted version of freedom.

25 years ago, our people wanted change and we got that when Nelson Mandela was made President of the Republic, because we believed that he would take the long walk to freedom even further and invite every South African to join this walk. Many who had campaigned for his release from prison worked to ensure that he becomes President to restore the dignity of a people who was crushed by an ungodly system. Christians who publicly campaigned then for this to happen, will have reason to pause this year because, while we have seen improvements in many areas of life, we have also seen the gross abuse of the freedom we hoped and longed for. It is our responsibility to read the signs of the times and to now build and strengthen that which will hold politicians and officials accountable and which can build true freedom and hope.

We thank God for the institutions that protected our freedom over the last 25 years, particularly the Constitutional Court. This court has found many former freedom fighters wanting. This court has found that the responsibilities of those in high office were often abused which led to the abuse of the poorest people in our land. To see their names on electoral lists is a huge cause for concern since, in some cases, they have already been found guilty by the highest court in our land. To restore faith in the rule of law, those who have been found lacking in their duties and guilty by this court must either step back voluntarily or their parties must remove them from their lists. This will deepen our quest for the true freedom that we strive for in this country so that we build a country of hope for our children and grandchildren. Ultimately, this election will be mainly about the future that we continue to hope for and one where our children and grandchildren can live together in greater peace and justice.

Much that is good has happened over the last 25 years, and we thank God for that. We need to now preserve that and build on it towards greater freedom for all our people. We need to build a more inclusive and robust economy, one that will be mindful of and preserve our sensitive environment. For this, we need excellent and ethical leadership and we pray that this coming election will produce some of those leaders.

After 8 May, we must build deep relationships of trust amongst all our people so that we work towards the common goal of building a society that is the envy of the rest of Africa and the world, a society that builds on the covenant of unity we have made with one another. It is when we strengthen this unity and do so authentically, that the forces of division will dissipate.

To build this trust that we so sorely need to heal our society, we need to listen more deeply and honour one another’s stories. Where there is true repentance and restitution, we need to forgive and restore relationships. To build trust, we need maximum transparency in our public life so that we can build the beloved community. We need to particularly build trust on a local level so that the work of healing can start in all our local communities so that our civil society organisations can be strengthened and the best possible leaders elected in our local elections in 2021.

For the election on May 8, we encourage the Christian community to train as many election observers as possible to ensure a free and fair election.

We will pray for all who take part in this election, that it will be free of violence and aggression, and that not only the people’s will may be expressed on 8 May, but also God’s will for South Africa.

God bless South Africa
Guard all our children
Guide all our leaders
And give us your peace
For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen