Monday, March 02, 2009

Open letter to leaders of the ACDP and CDA (ACDP Reply)

As you know, I sent an open letter to the leaders of the ACDP and the CDA and I posed some questions to them.

You can find the response of the CDA here.

Although this response from the ACDP is not by the ACDP President, Kenneth Meshoe, we have to accept that this response is that of the ACDP.

I received this letter from Wesley Douglas on Mon 2009/03/02 16:02.

I may make comments at a later stage, but I thought that I would bring this to your attention immediately so that you could start your decision making process.


Mr Wesley Douglas MP ACDP,
ACDP, Box 15, Cape Town 8000
wesleydouglasmp@gmail.com

2nd March 2009

Dear William

Thank you for your email to us concerning the ACDP and CDA unity talks. Let me begin by outlining the process that led to the recent meeting between the ACDP, CDA, UCDP, NADECO and CDP which was attended by several Christian media organisations like Radio Tygerberg, JOY! Magazine, Today Magazine, etc.

We have been engaged in talks with many Christian leaders around the country for many months on unity amongst Christian parties and have on numerous occasions extended the hand of friendship and reconciliation to other Christian parties. Dr Peter Hammond from the organisation, Africa Christian Action, and Mr Errol Naidoo from the Family Policy Institute approached the ACDP and other Christian political parties at the end of the year to arrange talks around unity towards the election. The meeting was called and the ACDP was the only political party who responded and confirmed and the meeting had to be cancelled at the last minute due to lack of response from other political parties.

A follow up meeting was arranged about two weeks ago at the Family Policy Institute offices and was hosted by Dr Hammond and Mr Naidoo. At this meeting, the ACDP made it very clear that we are willing to go into the future in collaboration with other political parties and work towards Christian unity. Many of the political parties now claiming to be members of the CDA had broken away from the ACDP for various reasons and we extended an offer of reconciliation under spiritual guidance of neutral pastors but our offer was rejected.

When we discussed areas of commonality it was agreed that we were all biblically based and our policies were similar if not identical. It was therefore not policy that was a stumbling block but process.

When discussing the processes involved and practicalities around fighting a corporate Christian election there were a few concerns raised by both the ACDP and the Christian media who were present at the time. It was proposed by the CDA that each party retain its identity for the election campaign but that we all fall under the CDA name on the national ballot. The CDA being a new body is not known on a national basis and one of the journalists from the media said that at this late stage it would be difficult to justify why an existing brand such as the ACDP would need to fall under the banner of a completely unknown organisation such as the CDA which was made up of regional parties that have had no representation in Parliament nor have contested an election successfully.

The ACDP also said that it would be a nightmare to campaign as the ACDP, having spent hundreds of thousands of rands on posters, billboards, adverts etc, and having gone to the electorate as the ACDP during numerous election rallies and campaigns, to turn around on voting day and say we are now standing as the CDA. Members of the UCDP and NADECO agreed with us that we need to work towards a relationship for the next election but that the plan by the CDA would fail.

When questioned about who would be the face of the CDA and the presidential candidate the CDA replied that all parties were equal and no one political parties head would be above any of the others. The CDA maintained that all the political parties’ leaders would go on the posters and between the leaders themselves they would decide who would lead the country. This was unacceptable to us and unbiblical. One of the main reasons many of these leaders left the ACDP was an inability to submit to leadership and it is not prudent to have a headless organisation with many different visions and directions.

The meeting then asked the ACDP whether we would be willing to put aside any differences we have had with members that broke away and try to accommodate them under the banner of the ACDP during the election and the President of the ACDP said he would have no problem in doing so provided spiritual and relational restoration takes place. Members of the CDA rejected this proposal outright and said “never again under the banner of the ACDP”.

As the ACDP we have not gone into any coalitions for this election and are committed to multi-party governance.

During this meeting the ACDP was disheartened by a serious breach of trust by the CDA, through its spokesperson, Louis Green. Whilst the meeting on talks with regards to unity was actually underway, it was revealed that the CDA had publicised an embargoed media release with an all out attack against the ACDP. This media release was restricted for use until after the meeting. It stated (before the meeting had begun,) that the CDA was disappointed that the ACDP had rejected its offer on unity out of hand. This was quite untrue as we had not yet had the meeting when they released it saying we had declined to join them for the meeting! This deceit on their part showed they had no intention of holding true talks on unity and reconciliation and that they were using the meeting as a strategy to get Christians to think the ACDP was not interested in Christian unity. These tactics are insincere, underhanded and ungodly.

We have never said no to talks on unity or to finding a way for us all to work under one banner. The reality is that CDA has decided that their way was the only way to do things and are manipulating the truth and trying to blacken the name of the ACDP in order to win Christians support. Is this consistent with Christian principles? Is this consistent with how Christians should conduct themselves towards each other, even their enemies? I think not. The ACDP has never, on one occasion, vilified the CDA or spoken against Louis Green or the other break away parties formed after betraying the ACDP. We have not revealed the circumstances under which they left other than to defend ourselves from lies they were spreading about the ACDP nor have we used any of our platforms to speak against them.

As for specifics around your questions I have outlined the question and given a response below:

Question

First, to Dr. Kenneth Meshoe, President of the ACDP.

Knowing that the CDA put forth their hand of unity to the ACDP, could you please let the Christian voters of South Africa know why your party decided against walking in unity with the CDA?

I don’t want to make assumptions as to why this was decided, and I am sure that if you spell it out, then all assumptions can be put aside.

In my opinion there cannot be many more than 2 reasons, why different Christian groups cannot walk together in unity. The first reason would be that the other group is teaching false teaching or perhaps heresy. The second is that the other group is walking in sin.”

Answer

The truth, as outlined above, is that we did not reject any offers at all. It was the ACDP’s offer that was rejected and the conditions under which a Christian coalition was proposed by the CDA was unrealistic and impracticable.

Question

Third, a question that must be answered by the ACDP and the CDA.

Why should voters vote for your party and not the other Christian party?

Answer

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) believes that there is Real Hope for South Africa. Formed just four months before the first democratic elections in 1994 under the leadership of Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, the ACDP has continued to grow at a rapid rate. The ACDP has been growing consistently over the last fifteen years and is the only Christian party with a proven track record over more than a decade for standing for biblical principles in government and legislation and was the only political party to have voted against the establishment of the new SA Constitution in 1996 on the grounds that it violated biblical principles and legalized same sex marriages, abortion and other abominations.

Having had 7 members elected to National Parliament in 2004 along with the ID and the UDM, which each got 8 MP’s, the ACDP is currently positioned as the fourth largest political party. Its presence has been strongly felt over a number of years, with 8 ACDP members positioned in Provincial Legislatures in 1994, and over 100 councillors elected nationally in 2006.

Over the past five years, we have grown and matured significantly as a political party. While our strong stance regarding moral and family values has been well publicized and remains foundational to the party, our policy has shifted significantly over the past few years to incorporate a number of other key focus areas which we view as imperative to nation building. These incorporate service delivery, job creation, poverty alleviation and issues of finance and economic development.

The ACDP is a confessed Christian Democratic Party. Our emphasis lies on being a political organization rather than a church denomination, thus our expectation is that the people of South Africa will place their confidence in us not only because of our Biblical worldview, but also because of our political aims and objectives. Our vision is thus that of a new South Africa brought together by shared principles of family and moral values, good corporate and economic governance, care for the poor and disadvantaged, and the strengthening of our society’s core moral fibre.

We believe that the ACDP has the capacity to address these issues and govern the country effectively, guided by experts in many matters and seasoned politicians with extensive practical governance experience, who have committed their skills and wisdom to furthering the ideals of the party.

The party is spear-headed by men and women of all races and ethnic groups with leadership track records across a vast range of sectors. This incorporates seasoned politicians with years of political experience and excellence in service delivery, managing budgets and fighting corruption; highly successful business men and women; and well recognized community leaders who have actively sought to give communities a voice in civil society and politics.

While coming from varied political backgrounds, these leaders are fiercely united in their unwavering belief that the ACDP is the political vehicle which will ensure South Africa’s true and lasting transformation in the economic, political and social realms.

POLITICAL CLIMATE

The political landscape of South Africa remains dynamic and has changed dramatically in the recent past. Since Polokwane, we have seen a serious split in the ANC which has accelerated its demise as a two-thirds majority party. With the emergence of COPE, many key ANC leaders have left the ANC, with numerous additional ANC MP’s and MPL’s expected to cross over as the election date is announced.

Whilst COPE’s splitting away from the ANC is positive for our democracy, it is important to understand that the breakaway faction does not differ considerably from the ANC on policy issues. This means that they cannot be exempt from accountability for the country’s negative state of affairs, and continue to share responsibility with the existing ANC leadership for the poor governance of South Africa over the past fourteen years.

Multi-party governance

What makes the recent political developments most significant is that it promotes and paves the way for multi-party governance at local, provincial and national levels in South Africa.

Multi-party government and multi-party democracy refers to the process whereby political parties develop coalitions to form a multi-party governing structure in which power is shared and no single political party controls the council. As part of a multi-party government, individual parties are assigned cabinet posts according to how well they do at the polls.

Multi-Party government and multi party democracy means that you can vote for the party that best represents your values and beliefs in the secure knowledge that they could actually form part of a multi-party government after an election. Voting for a values-based party can actually translate into that party being given various government departments to run according to their values and policies. It also means that the party of your choice, depending on how many votes they receive, can use their weight in government to ensure that the multi-party government does not implement policies that are against its core value systems.

Where there isn’t a clear majority, there is no need for a strong opposition because of the emergence of multi-party governance. This liberates voters and financial supporters to vote for and fund the party that best represents their interests, rather than for a party that might present a bigger opposition to the ANC. It is thus no longer necessary to limit oneself to voting for or financially supporting “the lesser of two evils”.

The ACDP is familiar with the practice of multi party governance, as demonstrated by their leading role in introducing this successful model of governance to the City of Cape Town metropolitan council. The ACDP was responsible for negotiating with the DA and all parties concerned and continues to successfully hold the structure together through its chairing of the multi-party forum in council.

Every vote given and every cent contributed towards the ACDP election campaign can and will result in family norms and values being given a platform in government which would be administered through Cabinet Ministers who have a real heart for the needs of the people and expertise to fight for, amongst others, social justice, poverty alleviation, job creation and housing.

Future of opposition parties

The new political landscape means that traditional roles of political parties are shifting and changing. The DA, for example, will no longer play the role of “official opposition” as they largely represent the interests of white South Africans and are unlikely to make any significant inroads into the black electorate.

Furthermore, the ID has lost significant support by siding with the ANC in the City of Cape Town and is now promoting itself as a party for coloured people. Race politics, however, has a limited lifespan.

Certain parties – most specifically the ACDP – however, have the capacity to grow limitlessly as they are making inroads into the black electorate in typically ANC strongholds and the ACDP has the added advantage of appealing to all racial groups across the board. 78% of the population still claim to be Christian and want a return to good strong governance with solid moral and family values and this is in the ACDP’s favour.

ACDP vision and calling

Our attempts to make a difference in society flow from the fact that as Christians we have responsibilities in the realm of the nation as well as in the realm of the Lord's Kingdom. As citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), we are called to be obedient to the Lord (Ex. 20:1-5). Our Lord has commanded us to be the "salt" of the earth and the "light" of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). This requires Christians to be in active engagement with the world, preserving as salt and illuminating as light. Obedient discipleship requires nothing less than active, principled involvement with society, including informed participation in our nation's public policy process.

As John Stott eloquently states:

There is a great need for more Christian thinkers in contemporary society, who will throw themselves into the public debate, and for more Christian activists who will organize pressure groups to promote the work of persuasion. Their motivation will be thoroughly Christian — a vision of the God who cares about justice, compassion, honesty, and freedom in society, and a vision of man, made in God's image though fallen, moral, responsible, with a conscience to be respected. It will be out of zeal for God and love for man that they will seek the renewal of society. (John R. W. Stott, Involvement: Being a Responsible Christian in a Non-Christian Society, p. 93.)

PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS

The ACDP is honoured to be served by skilled and experienced politicians, many of whom have served as MP's, Senators, MEC's, Mayors, Ministers and high ranking civil servants. They are men and women of character, whose lives exemplify the strong moral values foundational to our party, and who demonstrate a clear understanding of community needs and a passion to see them transformed by drawing on their combined expertise in, amongst others, the areas of economics, housing, poverty alleviation, foreign affairs, and safety and security. Every person in leadership within the ACDP is screened by a “Guardian Committee”. This is a panel set up by our constitution consisting of two elder leaders (from within the party), and two spiritual leaders (who are not members of the party) with the express purpose of screening and checking the backgrounds of our candidates according to very strict criteria. This committee was established at the inception of the party to ensure that only strong leaders of good character are permitted to stand for leadership in the ACDP.

ACDP leaders willing submit their lives, their families, their finances and their spiritual lives to the scrutiny of this committee and are bound by their findings. The committee also has authority to recall a public representative of the ACDP if he or she is found to have broken the code of conduct or brought the party into disrepute. The ACDP believes that this will ensure fewer problems with corruption, personal scandals and bad behavior from public representatives of the party when in government. Unlike many other parties who cover up their public office bearers discretions, the ACDP has used its recall principle and removed from office members who have brought the party into disrepute and disciplined them severely.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Many South African have queried the noticeable absence of ACDP coverage on television and radio stations, and in national newspapers.

Since the party’s inception, mainstream media vehicles have actively sidelined the ACDP as a party because of its strong Christian values and moral stance. There has been an apparent disinclination by media to attend and report on, amongst others, ACDP public meetings, launches and manifesto announcements, while providing favoured politicians from parties embracing more liberal and leftist radical ideologies with exposure to the public. As a result, the ACDP has laboured to get press releases out, hold press conferences and have relied on alternative media sources such as the internet, “You Tube”, the party’s website and cell phone technology for communications.

However, the past year has been characterized by many of the ACDP’s recommendations to parliament being accepted, particularly with the Film and Publications Amendment Bill, the Judicial Services Commission Amendment Bill, and to a lesser degree, the Criminal Law Sentencing Amendment Bill. The result of this has seen the media perception of the ACDP shifting away from the notion of a fringe religious fundamentalist organization, and demonstrating a greater respect for, and tolerance of the party.

There has been a marked improvement of late and the ACDP is seeing its party leader being given the opportunity to participate in debates and radio and television interviews which it was previously excluded from and is currently seen as one of the big five political parties in South Africa.

I hope these responses have spoken to your concerns and should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to call us or speak to us on the contact details below

Yours in Christ
Wesley Douglas MP

I would like to thank Wesley Douglas of the ACDP for his thorough response.

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