The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Never under-estimate the intelligence of ordinary folk once they have become properly informed. That’s a fact we have re-iterated in covering the disastrous aftermath of President Jacob Zuma’s firing of respected Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. Because once a nation’s citizens are armed with the knowledge that enables them to make up their own minds, they usually apply those facts to act rationally. In How Long Will SA Survive, academic and historian RW Johnson contends that civic society-initiated regime change usually requires the involvement of students and churches. Students got the ball rolling in their #feesmustfall campaign when Zuma and his acolytes rapidly folded like a pack of cards. The churches have now found their voice. And a call to action after the firing of Nene, the direct result of his resistance to corrupt intentions by Zuma cronies at SAA and the President’s ill-conceived nuclear deal with the Russians. Have a careful read of the statement below from the SA Council of Churches. This is the message being preached today from thousands of pulpits to millions of the South African faithful. It is also the second leg of the most potent of cocktails that ultimately effect regime change. – Alec Hogg
From the SACC:
JOHANNESBURG: The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has sent a letter to the office of President Jacob Zuma to express the churches’ concern and discomfort with the removal of former Minister Nhlanhla Nene from Treasury, as announced on the evening of Dec 9 2015.
The cabinet reshuffle, which the church believes to be bordering on financially irresponsible, relates to four contextual factors: The context of the country’s credit ratings; the potential impact of that on the livelihoods of poor communities; the instability that may arise as a result; and the unfortunate perceptions that accompany this development, that undermine public confidence in the Executive and the Person of the President.
The SACC will make a fuller statement of its position on this when it launches its nation-wide campaign called “The South Africa We Pray For”, which was introduced earlier in December. It tackles the issues of healing and reconciliation, poverty and inequality, economic transformation, family fabric, and anchoring democracy. “It would be inconsistent with our prayer and action campaign, were we not to interrogate this decision, speaking in our capacity as the leaders of South African churches,” he said.
‘The SACC continues to take its role as the voice of poor and marginalised people seriously, and our communique to President Zuma expresses our deepest concern for the ripple effect of the cabinet reshuffle on the average family in our communities,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC. Since the announcement, the money markets have seen a devaluing Rand against all major global currencies, leaving South Africa points away from a downgrade to junk status. With 33% of South African government debt being held by foreign investors, a downgrade to junk status would force the likes of international pension and bond funds to move their investments to other markets.
Mpumlwana added: “The performance of the South African Rand in the last few days will undoubtedly affect all South Africans, but the poor are likely to be hit hardest by the possible turn of events. We anticipate a higher cost of living affecting the cost of food, transport, clothing and energy. This will lead to higher inflation, and poor people, the majority in our country, will watch an already small basket of goods, shrink even further. This form of manufactured economic oppression cannot be condoned.”
The SACC’s primary concern is around the seemingly abrupt manner in which the Nene dismissal happened, on the basis of his redeployment to another strategic position, which raises the question of whether such a position and its needs can supersede the considerations for corporate South Africa, of the impact of the Nene removal in the face of such uncertainty on the economic front. The churches have therefore sought an audience with the President, to present their concerns and request clarity on the recent cabinet reshuffle and all its ramifications.
The SACC awaits a response from the office of President Zuma.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.