God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two hearts are beating…

Indeed there are several sentiments to be felt while watching the events unfolding in South Africa.
A first is clearly the relief that President Zuma has past his due date and stepped down. It was more than time to go for him – and there is the hope that all his cronies and yeah-Sayers will follow in the next couple of days.
But honesty is owed the observation that the man now in power firstly did not become rich only through hard work but using the often unjust and abused system of BEE and secondly stood by and defended the indefensible – praising a corrupt president as an outstanding leader. Guilt by association is punishable in many countries and South Africa has suffered big times because of it. The poor, the marginalized, those without voice have been sidelined but used as voting stock by handing out food parcels,T-shirts and empty promises before election. Racism was fostered and used as a political tool and most of them jumping ship now and switching allegiance have fueled the fire of social dissent for years abusing their office. And lets not forget: statecapture would have continued if and when not brave journalists and parts of civil society went the extra mile to bring it into the open painstakingly.

It is a mammoth task lying ahead for this man, almost a sort of penance for Ramaphosa and his political allies to either succeed in changing course dramatically or failing the country completely. Odds are against them, as history shows little support for the hope that a liberation movement turns into a political party without destroying most what was fought for in years. But hope dies last and therefore for those with goodwill there can only be one way forward to support the efforts made by the hopefully completely changed cabinet to indeed start serving the people of South Africa again in a decent, honest and passionate manner. The dream of a rainbow nation as the beacon of hope for Africa and the world has is not completely dead but has survived alas on its last breath waiting to be resuscitated and brought to the beauty of times long gone. It will take a long time to cleanse the rot of the last 9 years and to convince even the small little rural civil servant that nepotism and corruption is a thing of the past – that cadre deployment has come to an end and entitlement has ceased to be at the forefront of developments.
Hard work, honesty, diligence and a sense of duty are the ingredients of the new beginning. Then the two hearts beating in the chest are coming together and making place to reconnect to the ones around so that this nation rise to the occasion with one big beating heart living what our beautiful constitution has promised for its people a long time ago.

 

Filed under: Politics and Society, Reflection, South Africa, , , , , , , ,

Prayers needed! Really?

It seems that prayers are in high demand in our days:
In South Africa ANC representatives are making the round in churches and asking for prayers to get their house in order.
In the USA politicians are praying for the victims of Las Vegas and on Facebook and social media the call for prayers is all over, from Orlando to Paris and now back in the USA we are called to pray again. Prayers are needed indeed when one sees the state of affairs in many parts of the world, when one notices the despair of people and the craziness of terror and politics and sometimes it seems terror and politics are exchangeable in the sense that people are hurt, lives cut short and common sense buried.

Maybe it is time to mention that prayers without the appropriate action will fail to do anything good except comforting those trying to  escape responsibility. Contemplation and action, prayer and deeds are interlinked as human mankind is interlinked in the spirit of Ubuntu. Sending good thoughts only work when there is the reflection what I can do to change a situation.
We could pray for hours for the well-being of the ANC here in South Africa – as long as those in charge allow for corruption, state-capture and stealing in their own midst without acting against the perpetrators no prayer will heal this situation. We can pray for hours for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting but as long as those in charge in the USA refuse to take action against the gun lobby being able to do business as usual those prayers are empty and the expression of sympathies a blunt lie.

And it is not only those who are in office – those who have elected people into office are equally guilty if they only pray instead of making sure that those voted in power are doing their work correctly and making responsible decisions. No one, not even the ANC in South Africa has a privilege to be in power – and Jesus might come earlier than expected to Mr Zuma (my South African friends will know…)  – all those in higher offices are there for a time and with a responsibility. And in a democracy the power lies with the people.

Prayer can bolster this responsibility, prayer is making this responsibility more visible as it connects to the divine, to the source of humanity and to the foundation of why we have rules and regulations and a political and social system with certain values and ethics. It is not a fix for failures, the divine does not pop in to plaster over ignorance. But prayer can be the beginning of redemption and turning around a situation. It is certainly as a connection to all beginnings a means to reflect, if necessary repent and try to do better.
Let’s hope that is meant when politicians ask for prayers or pray themselves in the public space and in front of TV cameras. And that people asking for prayers on social media also turn into themselves to look where their responsibility lies besides sharing a call for prayers.

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

State-capture and NGO work

Following the news about all Zuma and Gupta and state-capture, about Gigaba, Muthambi, Dlamini, Zwane and all the others so often for the wrong reason in the news the debate often ends with the bleak outlook on economics – the downgrades and the failure to attract investment and to stimulate growth.

What remains unreported and not even considered is the impact, the failure and outright criminal action of those in power have on the NGO sector of South Africa. The country is meanwhile so in the bad books of the global village, that even the non-profit and charity sector starts to feel the consequences as more and more funder and donor refuse to support a corrupt South Africa.  Justified or not, it has to be noted that those organizations, which fill so often the gap and bridge the incapacity and incompetence of governmental institution are harmed in the same way like their honest for -profit economical siblings.

The groundwork for this disastrous development was laid the day, South Africa joined BRICS and decided not to be a “developing” country anymore – naturally it cut essential funding from overseas to the point that even the European Union re-considered their contribution towards the development of the country in their newest budget. With all the state-capture, the obvious incompetence and dishonesty of some ministers and the inability of self-correction the situation is worsening as we speak – South Africa, the beacon of hope and Madiba’s dream of a rainbow nation as an example of reconciliation turned into a black sheep, a symbol of outright corruption and failed politics.

Obviously one can argue that assuming the way of South Africa would be trouble-free was an illusion from the beginning – and the argument is certainly valid. But the way it turns out now, the depth of state-capture with all its consequences and the unwillingness or impotence of the ruling party to correct this path of (self-) destruction destroys the  very fabric South Africa needs to develop peacefully and with equality for all its citizens. In this situation NGO’s are the very glue which can hold such a social  fabric even if government fails its people once in a while, but for being able to do so, they need resources and the goodwill of people from all walks of life – especially those who can financially and materially contribute to the essential work of those Non-profits.

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

History prevails – South Africa after the #NoConfidenceVote

There was hope, there were prayers, demonstrations on the streets to voice the displeasure – but even all the news about the Gupta’s and state capture was at the end not good enough to beat history:
the lesson that most struggle and liberation warriors cannot be transformed into democratic politicians – the gaps are simply to big and the mindsets are simply to different. Paired with the cadre deployment of often not very well-educated and trained people whose only credential are faithfulness to the party and the respective leadership with no own thinking makes it even worse. Add a leadership who still is in battle and sees an opposition as “the enemy” – the second miracle of the rainbow nation did not happen today. So the outcome was to be expected by those being realistic even when hope sometimes took over for some lucky moments.
History shows that those coming from the struggle first have to damage and hurt the liberated society almost to the point of no return before things can change. Countries in South America, but also neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe or Mozambique are good examples of what to expect.

Ideology trumps common sense – and if you have a streetwise clever president who uses the structures of the organisation to enrich himself and to escape justice – South Africa will have to learn that the Madiba magic was a once off and that there is nothing special about the country. The often-heard entitlement of young people – born out of the motion of being a special breed of people – mixed with the disappointment of the majority seeing that most of their own leaders are only looking for their own advantage –  will not prevail and fail the test of time. The “fat cats” promised not to be seen under an ANC led government according to Mandela now harvest the goodies while most people still struggle and the economic is spiralling down.

The Andiles and Malemas of South Africa are not helping either – and as long the terms of “white” and “black” are common weapons to attack each other – nothing will change, but society will play into the hands of those in charge and taking away the riches of the country or handing it over to an Indian family and other friends.

South Africa will have to come to grips with the fact that it is not at rock bottom yet – and that more pain and more suffering will come before there is a turn for the better. Yes, history prevails but this also means that after defeat comes victory – it also means that nothing lasts forever and that hopefully more and more people speed up the process of changing course for a better and more prospect South Africa. And for that reason – and for the sake of those suffering from their own brothers and sisters now in government – we have to continue working for a better and just society so that South Africa is seen again as an example of hope and healing for the whole continent.

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

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