God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Bad news for South Africa?

Attentive observers already had a feeling that the measures governing South Africa at the moment are not only Covid-19 related but now a speech of President Ramaphosa confirmed in not uncertain terms that the crisis is a perfect smokescreen to change the economics and with it the social fabric of South Africa in one go.

In remarks in Kwazulu Natal on Tuesday, the 5th of May he spoke about the reconstruction of South Africa’s economy and said:
“Covid-19 is quite frankly giving us an opportunity to relook at our economic side of life to see how we as South Africans reconstruct our economy after coronavirus, knowing that coronavirus has dealt us a huge blow. … This is a post-war situation. We have been fighting an invisible enemy and now we must start planning for a post-war situation which gives rise to a number of challenges and opportunities. … Radical economic transformation must underpin the economic future that we will need to craft going forward. We should be able to do this through a new compact we are going to build”

Listening to him provides then the background to understand the measures taken not only to combat the pandemic and concentrate on cushioning the impact on poverty and economy but more than less intentionally manoeuvre the state into a new compact while the country struggles with massive financial woes and still waiting to recover money wasted by corruption and ideology since decades.
While millions of people in this country struggle to secure enough food, while staff in hospitals feel let down and anxious, while repatriations of South Africans end up in fiasco and rules and regulations change by the day with no end in sight – instead of fixing what is first important it seems that the ruling party sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a perfect opportunity to radically change the game while people are in lockdown and challenged by often questionable rules made by those roaming freely because of their VIP status.

Nobody in this country is against transformation and a better future for all – but with the track record of government in running SOE’s and the fiscal challenges piling up every day more – abusing a health crisis to achieve this transformation will bring more misery to those anyhow left out since years. Instead of using the time for a narrative of “we are all South Africans – and we together will come out stronger”  the impression is that rather racial undertones and racial scoring has the upper hand, deepening the trauma of this society.

Adding the clear signs, that the past has not left office for the members of the South African National Defence Forces and the South African Police Service – having been implicated in several cases of brutality and torture – the question of transformation as a healing process and not a radical process is even more urgent. This country will not be able to have a future if ideology, racism, tribalism and lingering in the past governs supreme.

Covid-19 is now more than a health challenge – it is a challenge whether the new democratic South Africa and society as such allows those in power to use the situation for their own ideological gain or if the last 25 years brought enough appreciation for democratic rules as a guarantee for a future for all South Africans and with it for Africa as a continent.
At this moment in time, the prospects look very muddy – but not all is lost. Maybe the courts will come to the rescue again looking at the non-democratic command structures formed and increasingly questioned by constitutional lawyers.

 

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Wall down – challenge up…

30 year after the fall of the Berlin wall Germany is celebrating – somehow a bit strange as times seems to be tough and there is a sense that the lessons of history, Nazi Germany, Word War II and the divide for so many years seems to be forgotten. Fascists and Neo-Nazis celebrating within the AfD and the network around another spring – the ” we and them” theme is accepted as kosher again and there are not only those ” eternally right-wing” but normal citizens who are falling into the trap of a democracy allowing for parties which aim it is clearly to demolish exactly the system they use to get into power.

History is repeating itself – and whoever has pondered the question why people did not stand up before the firm manifestation of Nazi Germany and its grip on the citizens did not allow for any resistance anymore can currently learn lessons for life. A in big parts fascist, racist and anti-democratic party gets permission to run in a democratic system; Jews are attacked, politicians threatened, Muslims are called the real devils – and those in power currently are also not very creative how to challenge those dehumanizing tendencies carried by many ” braven Buergern” of the united Germany.

But it is not only Germany – looking at the USA and the experience of a liar and womanizer as president – and so many other countries walking dubious political and social directions –  it carries the question how we came to arrive at a point where humanity, human rights and the awareness of a planet being robbed of all resources are pushed on the backseat while madness is driving humanity in direction extinction.

It is an interesting political, social, psychological and also theological question. Is it the anxiety that the white dominant macho rule comes to an end? Is the answer to find in the overwhelming information stream which our rather stone aged brains cannot handle anymore? Is it the complexity of life we conceptualize but we are unable to deal with and to master? What does it mean for the concept of democracy to live in a digital future transcending physical borders?

Celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall is besides drinking champagne and dancing around the Brandenburg Gate as well as given sombre speeches a time to reflect on what it means for our challenges today. It should be a time to meditate how wrong decisions, how fascism, socialism and a political ignorance or even a limitless tolerance carries the penalty of suffering and injustices for generations.

 

 

Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

in between travels

Traveling between Europe and South Africa sees in the moment a clear competition: which country has the most outrages politicians, the most stupid public debates avoiding the real question of long term sustainability of our societies and environments. Adding the big brother from the US sometimes one even does not know how to close ears and eyes from all the thunder of underdeveloped ideas. Add some blue haired so called influencer and the panopticum of political and social surrealism matches Salvador Dali’s paintings or even goes further.

What is it that people are losing their minds and running either behind a single messiah with short term memory or flocking behind the easy black/white solutions which never will solve any of our complex problems. Or, like we see more and more in South Africa, use violence and intimidation to get what one wants and just now without delay.
My guess is still that the anxiety over an overwhelming digital and digital connected world makes people being so afraid that they even intelligence don’t stop the degradation into instincts learned as we still walks as Neanderthals this earth.  We are in the mental stone-age of the digital revolution – and we behave like it on almost all levels of societies – it’s like a pandemic running its course and nobody really notices and if, one looks at it like the rabbit in front of the snake: don’t move – freeze!

The sacredness of life, the beauty of living this earth, the diversity of nature, the freedoms so many people fought and died for – all those are becoming victims of this point in time.  And churches, so much busy with themselves and their own history of failings trying to maintain a bit of moral order are not realizing that the real questions have moved so much further from the question what happens in the bedrooms of people.

Well, this weekend we are celebrating Pentecost – we celebrate the good Spirit of everything living and existing on this earth, in this universe – and maybe looking at the scale this compares to the aforesaid problems might enable us to put things again into perspective. This Spirit has three virtues: faith, hope and love – and maybe bringing them to the forefront again there might be a way out of our seemingly endless circles of short and inadequate answers – hope, faith and love are long-living – they are channels to life and to freedom we urgently need to rediscover.

Filed under: Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Elections reflection…

It is done: The South African election has been concluded and the observers are left with quite bias feelings. On one hand the election was generally free and fair and without major glitches. Also violence was not prominently to be seen during the day. The participation was very low: only 65.98% of possible voters took the chance to cast their vote – it seems that especially young people who were very vocal on social media forgot to register for the election day.
Looking purely from the outside the result is astonishing: The ruling party, having majored in the last years in corruption, state capture, dishonesty and simply stealing from the poor were again rewarded with leading the government. More than 10 million South African, mainly in rural areas where service delivery has collapsed or is in the progress of collapsing have voted for those responsible. Millions of grant receiver have still not understood that the grants are not given by the ANC but government. The myth of the liberation movement being the only capable party to lead South African and some major strategic mistakes of the official opposition party have surely also contributed to the result as has the lack of education in most regions of South Africa.  And politicians clearly guilty and contributors to state capture are still in the driving seats of the organization which is split to the core between those who have realized that things have to change and those who want to continue plunder without any sign of guilt or conscience.

If history will repeat itself then this election result confirms that a liberation movement turned political party will continue to govern till the majority of liberated are left with nothing while those in power reap what they can to enrich themselves. South Africa was told it is special, having Madiba magic in the beginning of the new democracy – it is working hard in the moment to dispel this myth.
Listening to SC of the ANC Ace Magashule who insists that only the party counts and not individuals and that MP’s are bound to the party but not their conscience it shows that there is no learning curve or new insight yet which could rescue the ANC on the long run – and with it South Africa.

Additional concern is that almost 2 million people voted for a man with fascist tendencies and a party which exploits the hopes of those unemployed and uneducated. The “Idi Amin in the making” Julius Malema showed stronger support in the most poor parts of South Africa – where people did not have anything to lose anymore.

The DA remained in power in the Western Province and this is indeed a blessing as the Western Province is doing much better as other provinces as shown by the congratulatory letter of the national parliament to Helen Zille, the outgoing premier, now to be replaced by Alan Winde. But their supporter base has lost votes to other parties – Musi Maimane is a very young leader and surely he would need more matured advisers not bound to party politics. Building a race-blind party is in the current environment a challenge and it will remain one for the foreseeable future.

Education, health and land reform as well as economical stimulus are the buzz words of the future deciding on the future of South Africa – together with the question who will lead the healing process of society and turning the tide of racism, which showed its ugly head again and again during election time. I hope and wish that churches will be much more prominent in this field – wouldn’t it be wonderful if churches, mosques and synagogues would become places of story telling, real listening and healing.

And obviously decisive will also be whether state capture can be ended and those responsible having their day in court. Having politicians involved campaigning for the party in the last weeks was indeed a pain in the neck and seeing some of them being in charge of the ruling party remains a disgrace and a big question mark on the way forward. Coming clean is never easy – but the only way to move on and develop in the right direction.

May we see the wonder that those elected to the new national and provincial parliaments are not listening to people like Ace Magashule and others but using their conscience and their love to the country and their dedication towards the well being of society. We need honest brokers guided by the constitution and nothing else to have a chance. We need people who can and will jump over party lines to do what is right for the people of South Africa. We need another Madiba moment like in 2004 where all are pulling in the same direction and where hope and trust overcome obstacles  – South Africa still has a future if those in power act in their majority with responsibility and love for the country.

 

 

Filed under: Africa, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

And the question is…

South-Africa-question“What has this all to do with your work?” – I was asked recently discussing my blog and the person questioning me noticed the hardly not to notice political overtone of the last blog entries.
The answer is very simple: the  roller coaster on the political scene influences together with the water scare and now the polony  scandal the psyche of the people around us – the madness of state capture, the midnight changes in cabinet, the economic meltdown of South Africa in the last years resulted in more food-insecurity, in more unemployment, in more emptiness, in more loss of perspective as society. Students were encouraged to demand fee-free education which is in itself a non-sense, as there is nothing for free and the result of the reckless announcement of former President Jacob Zuma of the implementation of for said “free”   education means now in return an increase in VAT and again, the poor have to carry the biggest burden.
The unstable politics of the last years have taken a toll in all spheres of society and the divided ruling party, warming up to the party of the Gucci revolutionary “Commander in Chaos” with his only hardly veiled racism and power hunger balances the hope of a better future with the new president again negatively.

Add in the Western Province the serious threat of taps running dry – it all creates a situation where people are visibly on edge and less inclined to think rational and with measure.

HOPE Cape Town developed since years already a second arm of service which aims to assist those in need not only in the medical field, but also tries to remedy social woes of troubled South African families: poverty, lack of education, early childhood development and deficits in the framework of broken communities – read drugs, alcoholism, broken families, gangs, violence, corruption – has to be tackled simultaneously with any medical intervention to be successful.
This social services and assistance arm will be further developed – a part-time social worker and an occupational therapist are at the core of those developments working hand in hand with the doctors and the social system of the state – latter unfortunately a broken system with gaps hurting and killing children as a result.

The pain giving birth to a new and democratic South Africa with all the up’s and down’s are impacting in many practical terms the work of NGO’s like ours. Strikes and service delivery protests are damaging not only infrastructure but people engaged in those activities often forget their medication, their doctor’s appointment or even to put food on the table for the family. Corruption on all levels of society makes life more expensive for those anyhow struggling to make ends meet – and if delivery of state services are chaotic it is indeed difficult to get the papers needed for e.g. registering somebody into school.

And people who have nothing to lose anymore are obviously vulnerable to propaganda and ideology which wouldn’t make sense if one would have the time and the education to ponder what is often told from politicians in public.

The world is in the moment globally a bit in turmoil, and working in the non-profit part of it means to be vigilant and vocal for all those who have no voice or are somehow silenced by food parcels and t-shirts or a free meal – popular methods of those wanting to remain in power here in South Africa.

 

Filed under: Africa, General, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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