Vir Volk en Vaderland, Afri-Forum and Gerrie Nel’s political deal !

 

Afri- Forum, how to take back a country, by taking its NPA, can the ANC learn ! 

Oscar Pistorius sleeps tonight perhaps his best sleep since that dreaded night on February 13, 2013 when he killed Reeva Steenkamp, since that moment he became haunted by a skinny man with a very heavy Afrikaans accent, simply known as the bulldog of South Africa’s prosecutions, Gerrie Nel. Today we hear Gerrie Nel has resigned from the NPA on a 24-hour notice.

Nel in his press conference with Kallie Kriel of Afri-Forum, is at pains to explain his move was long in the coming at least for the last 12 months he has been in conversation with the NPA. We are told Nel in the sunset of his NPA tenure boasts 35 years of service of a career as a state prosecutor. He had all but five years left before he was to retire.

Let me firstly pay respect to Nel for his commitment to serve his country and South African society at large as a civil servant, when he as advocate easily could have been a very successful private practitioner of law. His career speaks volumes and he has thrust himself into our legal prosecution consciousness perhaps in in unrivalled sense ala Reeva Steenkamp murder case. Gerrie’s early retirement could have been something ordinary after all  its common that one can wake up one morning and it dawns on one, I am done, this is my last day, it happens often, yet its his next stop in his career Afri-Forum that is the interesting proverbial ‘kinkel in die kabel’.

The natural question is why would Nel choose to join Afri-Forum? It certainly cannot be for a bigger salary, it cannot be for shares in the civil rights movement it must therefore vacillates at another level. Perhaps this is no ordinary move but the fulcrum of what he holds dear in law and life. At another level its also a perfect relationship, he gets to do what he loves doing best namely investigations and prosecutions and Afri-Forum gets their title of becoming the unofficial NPA. With this move Nel lends the Afri-Forum the prosecutorial right to claim itself the guard of the guardians, and with this move political agendas fought in court of law in question of official state structures at the hand of a constitution as afforded.

Can the case be made that; this is Gerrie Nel’s political move, although he will argue it’s about law, well law functions in the atmosphere of a political context to deny the political context is to be disingenuous. Is his move therefore ‘vir – volk – en-vaderland’? The NPA as prosecutorial authority of SA, is laced in political gerrymandering at least as its claimed by some. That was the environment Gerrie Nel thrived and functioned at the top of his game.

Whilst South Africans are fed a daily diatribe of Gupta obsessed news from those who control the 4th estate Afri-Forum has over the 11 years of its existence distinguished it more and more as an entity that fills the gap to fight the cause of Afrikanerdom its primary constituency, not in an explicit sense but certainly in an implicit sense, a cause lost in political betrayal by a National Party when it ceded power and thus thrust Afrikaners into a wilderness of political wandering. For awhile the first years of our democracy saw Afrikaner intelligentsia bootstrapped in attempt to redefine itself in this new world that was ideologically, politically, religiously, aesthetically and increasingly economically different from what they had known.

Having lost political power, as far back as 1989 the Afrikaner has since that time been in political wilderness, but never short on strategy it had to come back, the question was always when and how, because political power was lost as confirmed in every election from 1994. Out of this arise the strategy, that being civil society formations, where Afrikaner wealth bolsters the new method of regaining constitutionally what was lost in the ballot. Fair game and nothing wrong with using the courts, even if it means court casing democracy. Then 11 years ago not even a teenager yet Afri Forum a noisy fox-terrier of the Afrikaner pride emerged, like all civil society formations it erred in the beginning but it became better at its agenda. Today it has morphed into a bulldog for claiming the bulldog himself as it sought to champion the cause of challenging political power through the judiciary as afforded by a constitutional democracy.

Constitutional democracy I hear you retort, yes, South Africa is a constitutional democracy and not a parliamentary democracy. This political settlement deal warranted a frame that would work for all in the negotiations, the late Van Zyl Slabbert in one of his latter works gives credit to Professor Marinus Weichers and a few other Afrikaners who acted as the surrogate legal and intellectual womb for a constitutional democracy as he claims the ANC was not too apprised on the concept. A constitutional democracy  therefore is “is a system of government in which political authority, the power of government is defined, limited and distributed by a body of fundamental law called the Constitution. The authority of the majority is limited by legal and institutional so that the rights of individuals and minorities are respected.” This means in a constitutional democracy the constitution has the absolute last say. Clearly in a parliamentary democracy parliament assumes that final authority. Often South Africans fail to appreciate this distinction.

Afri-Forum’s record in winning cases essentially against the State attests a success story, therefore Afri-Forum has become a formidable entity not in size but in legal weight, supported by unlimited resources from it funders who share its ideological convictions and practical reality as mouthpiece for their stake in a democratic SA. Afri- Forum proved you do not need a political party, you just need to have resources widely defined to fight political entities and State structures, and resources Afri- Forum has in no short supply. Let us also admit they have developed an formidable institutional base with qualified and specialised resources skills.

Their appetite to attract the best is a critical part of its core strategy. Nel’s joining of Afri- Forum is not just an emotional one; it is more than pure sentiment, it personal but it is also ideological yet its timeous and a very political one regardless how he may attempt advocating it is all about law and prosecution. He leaves the NPA fully aware of its multiplicity of challenges, its politics, intricacies, anomalies, weaknesses, and personalities in which he himself was not left unscathed but became also a subject of investigation. How best can he deal with the perception that the NPA is a questionable entity, when he is attached to it, and he too is the subject of an investigation? He therefore as a means of challenge will vacate it to become its opponent from the frame of civil society with the expertise, knowledge and even secrets as tools he had earned in usage from the weakness of a NPA. Afri-forum therefore scored perhaps today its biggest victory of its existence, for it claims today the NPA and it will work to prove the NPA for the weak institution it believes it to be.

I ask again how do you take a country back politically when you have lost political power in a settlement, you do so at the hand of an institutional frame with the face of civil society formation that knows how to the use the toolbox of a constitutional democracy. For some this is an insignificant moment, but from where I stand, this is a monumental victory for the 11 year old Afri-Forum, not because Gerrie Nel is the NPA but because Gerrie Nel and his network can paralyse the NPA from within and outside as a parallel entity and run it from the Afri Forum Investigations Desk, as he will be investigating everyone in the NPA and beyond thus confirming the NPA what he knows it to be for the time he has spent in the corridors and systems of its practice.

The case can be made that Afri-Forum with this private investigation and prosecution office has hijacked the NPA’s role effectively saying we will govern prosecutions whoever has a case come and report it, because we are the NPA. Regardless to how unpalatable this may taste in our collective mouths, the NPA is now a private institution.

The success of civil society formations in South Africa is their tenacity to take the State and its varied structures on in the courts and they have had several knock outs let us not forget the Correctional Services case to cite but one, for their challenging of political power comes undergirded by our constitutional democracy something we must celebrate yet mourn over. Celebrate because the existence of civil society formations have contributed to the jurisprudence that over the last 20 years have defined our democratic context as entrenched. It is Afri-Forum who takes on Julius Malema’s EFF claiming itself the custodian in protection of the constitution when it in true sense is really vir – volk – en- vaderland.

Juxtapose an Afri-Forum who exists for the regaining of Afrikaner political power with the ANC; the ANC as the leaders of State is the natural target of Afri-Forum and others. The ANC and its government is kept busy to constantly engage in fight-back strategies hardly leading the attack to defend its programmes, policies that ultimately are State policies and programmes aimed at normalising a South African society.

Yet the ANC until now has lacked the foresight to counter the likes of Afri-Forum, not for lack of resources but for lack of coherent political leadership and strategy from the earliest days of democracy until today, Africa’s oldest movement had no aptitude to formalise its own structures of civil society formations that can built a cognitive and conscious response in institutional prevalence and capacity to withstand the onslaught from a sector that Afrikaners made their new abode. The ANC needs an Afri-Forum as counter to level the balance of forces. It can thus be argued the ANC failed despite good counsel to play in that space, and to consciously direct resources to level the playing field where liberal and conservatives live and breath as rightfully empowered by a constitutional democracy.

With this ‘vir – volk – en – vaderland’ marriage of Afri Forum and Gerrie Nel, the game in prosecutions and law is changing and it warrants a response not a statement from Luthuli House but a cognitive response, that learns from Afri- Forum. That response has to be authentic, it has to ask why the ANC is not in the NGO / Civil society formations playing field, it must ask can the ANC continue to be absent, when major fights are won in this space. The ANC cannot ask for a Native Council, because the very foundations of leaders associated with the ANC are also absent in this space, as they are framed to critique the ANC no different to Afri- Forum.

I hold the ANC needs to have a civil society formation footprint and entity that is resourced with the correct people, funded duly and in work for the defence of the gains made, for Afri- Forum plays in that field informed by the losses the Afrikaners suffered in political embrace, yet with benefits of apartheid capital. The ANC must play in that space and environment, for the gains made that appears threatened, as assisted by the black elite, ( the latter may be a pipe dream).

We will have to wait and see how this what I have dubbed vir-volk-en-vaderland relationship for Afri-Forum and Nel will pan out, but kudos to this almost teenager, it shows you what foresight and resources can achieve!

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

A public commentator on political and religious matters.

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Somizi & Grace Bible Church – Betrayal or Intolerance ?

  • – Somizi and Grace Bible Church Guest Sermon –  

The German theologian Joachim Jeremias laments ‘the church must always believe what the church always believed’. This loaded statement, is perhaps brought into the circumference of the unfolding saga when we seek to make sense of what has gone for some viral in social media as Somizi Mhlongo the eccentric, colourful and flamboyant celebrity from Idols SA, shared his disgust with the sermon of a guest preacher at his local church.

A few people earlier asked me for my opinion on the unfolding saga of Somizi Mhlongo and the guest preacher Bishop Mills at Grace Bible Church.

I wish to postulate perhaps the unfolding statements attest a Kairos moment in the life of Grace Bible Church. One could off course see many entry and exit points in this unfolding saga. Of these entry or exit points one may see the following:

  • How is church membership taught, understood, actualized, and accepted from church leadership and those who make up membership?
  • What does the right of religious freedom entail, and where are these rights practiced?
  • What are the expectations of those who practice the homosexual lifestyle in a church where their lifestyle is not acceptable?
  • Is a church in the spotlight like GBC with celebrities and political leadership presence a different church, therefore a church that must be politically correct, thus compromising its core beliefs?
  • Can intolerance be masked in victimhood, where homosexuals deem it their inalienable right to believe the church they join must adapt to them?

Somizi Mhlongo an active member at GBC for 25 Years.

Somizi Mhlongo according to his own testimony is a member of Grace Bible for 25 years. Herein lies perhaps our conundrum. Let me firstly congratulate Somizi for having been a member as is claimed for so long. Also permit me to say there are not too many members that remain at a church this long anymore in our interesting and very mobile world of church.

If it’s true that Somizi is a member of Grace Bible Church, if he has been faithfully submitting to its leadership, he is perhaps entitled to feel aggrieved if it’s the first time in his GBC life that his lifestyle is confronted as not cohering with the biblical order and demands. Mhlongo and those who share  his lifestyle in GBC thus may have every right to raise a red flag.

If no one, not even his pastor in the induction of membership outlined the statement of faith, church policy and dogma on a homosexual lifestyle and how that rendered him unacceptable in the church unless his lifestyle is altered, you simply can’t come 25 years later and tell him his lifestyle is unnatural.

Becoming a member of a church formation is a voluntary decision that imbibes rights,  benefits and a submission to rules and principles that govern the organisation. Joining a church congregation warrants one to know what its core policies and values are, while the obligation is twofold, from both the church and those who choose to join the church.

Does Grace Bible Church have a articulated  Faith Statement on Homosexuality?

Perhaps this Kairos moment asks what is the Grace Bible Church’s statement of faith on the alternate lifestyle firstly as policy and secondly as practice?

If the church has always accommodated the homosexual lifestyle without addressing it, members of that lifestyle have a legitimate gripe.

Linked to that is how is that faith statement given life, in the daily functional context of one of South Africa’s largest church formations? How are members inducted on this faith statement and are the rules relaxed for some if so why?

Tension of Democratic Rights – The church has right to practice!

  (Rights of Association and Religious Freedom)

On another level, no one can expect the church to replace the Bible with a secular constitution as its Sacred Text shared in church pulpit embrace. We must ask how we make these rights freedom of association and freedom to practice religion as informed by what is called a sacred text, live in a true sense.

The tension in our democracy brings us to place to pause as our collective claim to rights often speak against each other. The church in its gathered assembly confirmed a theocracy and not a democracy. The Church in its Sacred Text attest a living organism that sees its Sacred Text as superior to any constitutional expression for societal life.

The church thus cannot be dictated to by a secular constitution regardless to how egalitarian claimed from a secular departure point.

How will we make these stand less in claims of victimhood where we rush to claim an offense when its truly the fig leaves for our own intolerance of others equal rights?

 

What is the premise for Somizi’s claim of offense?

We must ask, if Somizi is offended what does he use as his base for his claim of an offence? Is he offended from the context of being betrayed by his church of 25 years to have allowed someone to preach a ‘foreign gospel’?

Or is his context the 1996 Constitution of South Africa? One is not sure, if it’s the first, perhaps he has a case yet should he attempt to draw on the 1996 Constitution of SA, he could be accused of muzzling it into a space it don’t belong particularly since his membership at GBC precedes the SA constitution.

Even so he will still have to cross the hurdle of freedom of religious association as a constitutional recognised right for people to practice their faith by comfort extension to have a Sacred Text that dictates the essence, order and functionality of that faith life.

The fact of the matter is 25 years ago when Somizi joined GBC; the constitution of South Africa was not in existence. The reality of a hate speech claim in a church setting was not on the horizon, can we ask how did Somizi understand or embrace Grace Bible Church in membership back then and how different is that membership now in this dispensation?

GBC’s unclear response ‘all welcome’

The Grace Bible Church’ response as carried by its spokesman articulates a claim of ‘all are welcome ‘. This may be very progressive in claim yet it warrants unpacking. We must at another level ask what is meant with all ‘are welcome’?

Is the statement of deep conviction borne from the reality of a mission- dei or is this like many other slogans simply politically correct statements extracted from our social stand as entities that attract so called celebrities, people of political and economic power that often over time define the identity of church?

How do we make the ‘all’ and the ‘welcome’ stand and count and YET prognosticate an uncompromised word from a Sacred Text that advocates the sinfulness of man in unequivocal sense?

Does it mean all are welcome to be who they are, to continue with their lifestyles? Does it mean all welcome to a life of painful transformation in which we are all sinners and called to leave such in the encounter of grace to new lifestyles?

The burden is on GBC and all of us as church unpack this ‘all welcome’ and ask what it means in society where there is legislation to control the Christian Church when other faiths are left in abeyance to continue being true to the original Sacred Texts.

Is it possible that Somizi always felt welcome, why would Somizi a longstanding member leave the church building incensed and highly offended by the voice of a guest preacher if he had heard this message before in his local church from his local pastor?

To what extend are churches compelled to compromise their intrinsic values because we seek to be in step with a status of opulence and stardom when the burden of preaching compels us to be honest with our audiences regardless who they may be?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is by nature offensive!

My understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it confronts you in your state of humanity and attached an identity of impugned sinfulness in which it affords no on the right to have options. It is emphatic when it articulates that identity as ‘we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’. It continues to state categorically the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Chris Jesus our Lord. This is necessarily offensive and not easily palatable, it is certainly not politically correct and less concerned with our emotions. It was Bono who said Jesus Christ ‘he gives you no options’

Questions:

  • Lastly was the silence on the subject of homosexuality a clearly controversial and discomforting topic a convenient silence of not wanting to upset and anyone?
  • Was the acceptance of homosexuals as members against the better knowledge of the church statement of Faith a special concession because of who made up the new members, celebrities who have a social standing and economic disposition?
  • Why did Somizi and others find comfort to continue his lifestyle in the circumference of articulated GBC Faith Statement that he can be this disgusted in this season.
  • Is the GBC church’s restatement of ‘all welcome’ a public relations exercise; is it an attempt to prove politically correct when the proverbial horse have bolted?
  • Has the church taken enough time to engage this moment for it plausibly attests a Kairos moment?
  • What is the price to pay for being a mainline church?

This Kairos moment for GBC is perhaps also a Kairos moment for many church expressions and faith expressions to be emphatic to restate in unambiguity their convictions as led by their claimed Sacred Texts and its interpretation.

One would be forgiven to think Grace Bible Church with this situation receives a second chance to be unambiguous and crystal clear on its Faith Statement on homosexuality regardless to how offensive it may be found or experienced. It furthermore must be willing to accept that it will suffer backlash and what some may deem an unpopular statement of faith. It must desist to appease all in the claim of political correctness when the burden to remain true to what it always believed compels it to be emphatic. That however is only if the Grace Bible Church Statement of faith is congruent with its guest preacher’s persuasion as articulated.

We hear Jeremias perhaps in warning salvo, that we never allow what we always believed to be compromised for whatever reason. That is only if you truly claim to be a Bible Church.

Bishop Clyde N.S Ramalaine

Public Commentator on Political and Religious Matters