Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Politics in the year ahead

New kid on the block

Politics is a weird business. It is always difficult to predict what is going to happen next, especially when elections are at hand. In South African politics, due to the format of our party system, it becomes fairly easy to push new, and sometimes evil, legislation through. We have seen this many times with the ANC at the helm.

However, in late 2008, a new player has joined the fray in the form of COPE (Congress Of the PEople). This certainly will bring in new dynamics onto the playing field. Will it deliver a significant difference to politics in South Africa? That is yet to be seen. One thing I can almost guarantee is that the ANC will no longer have their 69% majority in parliament. That means that they will no longer have the clear-cut ability to amend the constitution. Since the acceptance of the constitution there have been 14 amendments! Do we want one party so powerful that they could change the constitution in such a way that it could be completely detrimental to the health of the nation?

Will the other parties in South Africa simply remain "also rans" after the elections of 2009? COPE already claims to have over 400 000 signed up members. Will COPE become the new opposition party? Already, many from the ANC, even in high positions, have walked over to COPE. It also seems that some from the DA also joined COPE. Will the next elections bring about a battle between the ANC and COPE, while the crumbs are left for the other parties to fight over.

White politics

The DA simply doesn't seem to be able to make headway in South African politics. The fact that it is a white legacy party counts against them. They have tried hard to break that mould, but I do not think it will change, since most of the members of the DA seem to be white legacy voters. It is a traditionally white party and it is still seen that way. They have been the opposition party since 1994, but COPE is seriously challenging that position in the coming elections. I am not sure if the DA can ever change its image of a white legacy party. The solution for this certainly is not an easy one. Racism is still very much a part of South African life, and from my experience of DA voters, is that the DA is still seen as the embodiment of that racism, whether in reality the party is such or not! Of course, the ANC has proven themselves to follow racist policies by their actions in parliament and elsewhere.

Christian politics

Will the ACDP grow its voters base in 2009 at the poll? There have been lots of movement within the ACDP and it seems that its membership base is growing, but can they translate that into more votes? That remains to be seen. Unless they tap into the votes from the church at large, I am afraid they will not make a difference. The church is its voters base. That is where they must spend their time. If its goal is to simply get votes, then going from door to door is good. However, and this I should stress, as Christians we are not to simply get votes, we are to bring about changed hearts through the gospel. Getting votes is not part of our mandate.

I know I will be stepping onto the toes of many, but a vote does not accomplish the mandate of the church found in Mt 28.19-20. The church is not called to rule the world, but to serve it through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The kingdom we are called to is not the kingdom of man, but the kingdom of God. The government of that kingdom is on the shoulders of Jesus Christ. We cannot think that if the government of God's kingdom is upon the shoulders of Christ, that the government of this world is upon our shoulders. That is simply pure presumption!

Should we as Christians then not be involved in politics? That is not what I am saying. Christians should be involved in politics, but not for the sake of politics. Christians should be involved in any sphere of life for only one purpose, to bring glory to God, and that will be accomplished by the proclamation of the gospel as we were mandated in Mt 28.19-20. If we as Christians think we must win the vote to rule the country with God's laws then we are missing the point. Sure, we do need laws that are influenced by God's laws, but we do not need a Christian government to do that! Anybody can take God's laws and use them as the basis of their own governmental laws.

What we as Christians need is an environment that is conducive to the preaching of the gospel. If a Christian party has as its ideals to create such an environment, then we are heading somewhere. Christians should be involved in every facet of politics, but must not forget that hearts are not changed by politics, but by the gospel. As Christians we must preach the gospel and fight against injustice. In politics, Christians must not aim to rule the ungodly because we have some kind of misinformed idea that we have such a mandate of government on our shoulders. We are to be in politics to right wrongs and to fight for justice for all, not just for Christians.

Perhaps a major problem that many churches might have with Christian parties in South Africa such as the ACDP and the CDP, is of a doctrinal nature. What are you as a church to do when a party asks for your support, yet that Christian party consists mainly of a certain type of Christian that adheres to doctrines that you consider false? What if the leaders of that party adhere to such false doctrine? Should you support that party for political expediency's sake, or decide against it? How will that party's false doctrine mislead them in the running of the country? Whereas false doctrine or heresy is of an eternal nature, politics is concerned with this temporal realm. In my opinion one should stand for the truth of the gospel whenever heresy is involved. So, the individual church has to stand for truth while shunning heresy. We cannot give credit to false doctrine, even when politics is involved!

Democracy: FAIL

Democracy, which is seen by many as the almighty liberator of the oppressed masses, is simply the tyranny of the many over the few! Pure democracy cannot and will not bring relief to all people. Democracy says that the majority, by whatever slim margin, may rule the minority, even against their wishes.

Democracy also allows for people, no matter how ignorant, to decide over and above other people, no matter how informed! Democracy is very much a simple power game with the winner usually the one with the most money. With too little money, parties cannot get their work done. This puts them at an immediate disadvantage to those parties with the millions in money.

On poll day, people must vote. However, how many of those people
can really make an informed choice? Many people make their crosses next to the only names they know. They have never been given an opportunity to be informed. How is this a plus point for democracy? How can such a vote have the same meaning as the vote by someone that has studied all issues and compared all parties and their policies?

What is the solution to the failure of democracy? I don't know, but I will let you know when I know. All I know is that while individuals cannot govern themselves, we will continue to need a nanny state to make decisions for us, and while that is the case, democracy cannot work. There would be too many people in need of someone to help make their decisions. Who would decide for them who should be in government? The current government?

Conclusion

At the start of 2009, I pray that you will be able to make properly informed choices, and that your choices will be based, not on the shifting sands of man's finite ideas that change almost everyday, but that you will be a Biblically informed person!

Have a great 2009!

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