Statement by 86 prominent Capetonians

November 27 2013  Source: Cape Times

A group of prominent Capetonians has written a hard-hitting statement slamming attempts by “a group of political activists” to “promote a climate of hate” and destabilise the province through violent protests. Here is the statement:

“All people of goodwill must take a stand against this assault on democracy in our province and in South Africa.

The delivery of services to the poor in this province and across the country is inadequate, and it is understandable that poor people are feeling frustrated and angry.

Everything must be done to get rid of bottlenecks and improve the service delivery situation here and across the country.

However, constructive engagement on the best way forward is possible and desirable, without resort to violence, and without fomenting hate or disrespect.

As South African citizens we are deeply concerned at the many incidents that display a complete lack of respect for true democratic values in several parts of the country. The recent examples on display in the Western Cape may be a disturbing trend that demonstrates a growing assault on democracy countrywide.

In the Western Cape there have been blatant attempts to make the province “ungovernable” simply because certain elements disagree with the democratic choice of the majority in that province. This trend has manifested itself in other parts of the country where new parties have been formed and experience extreme difficulty in promoting their political manifestos.

All members of an electorate should be free to be critical of its politicians and be able to exercise their right to make choices in line with their expectations of the government. They should not have to face threats of attack in various forms of violent protest, disruption of speeches, or threats of ungovernability.

The lack of serious leadership and authority in disciplining this form of anti-democratic behaviour carries serious risks and encourages a spirit of hate which, once unleashed, may take many years to overcome, with drastic consequences for our economy. It undermines the spirit of humanity and the ethos of respect for the human rights of everyone as embodied in the Bill of Rights.

We as citizens of goodwill wish now to stand up and repudiate these actions and the spirit in which they are carried out. We stand against any action which disrespects and denies the dignity of individuals or of community members, and denies political leaders the right to express their political views and canvas peacefully.

We call on the faith community to give the lead in restoring the democratic values that are being denied by actions that are tantamount to pure hooliganism and to join us in drafting a charter for the upholding of the constitution and the Bill of Rights that will be spread across the country in a nationwide movement to restore the values of the Freedom Charter that have been incorporated in our national constitution and Bill of Rights. We call on those carrying out these actions to reconsider their strategy and tactics and replace them with constructive methods of political engagement in the future, including peaceful protest.

Peace, progress and prosperity all depend upon how we exercise our hard-won democratic right. Respecting human dignity and promoting the achievement of equality and the enjoyment of our freedom are under threat if all people of goodwill do not take a stand.

Signed by:

Rev Carel Anthonissen (Centre for Christian Spirituality), Rev Edwin Arrison (Kairos Southern Africa), Louise Asmal, Jimmy Baigrie, Cheryl Barratt, Val Barry, Farzaneh Behroozi, Rev Daniel Brits, Rev Arther Cloete, Rev Christopher Clohessy (Catholic Parish Priest, Newlands/Claremont), Dr Murray Coetzee, Prof Ernst Conradie (Chair of the Department of Religion and Theology, UWC), Lavinia Crawford-Browne, Terry Crawford-Browne, Rev John de Gruchy, Shirley J de Kock, Dr Aart Roukens de Lange (Unitarian), Dr Fanie du Toit (Director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation), Heila Downey (Zen Buddhist — Robertson, Cape Town and Knysna), Rodney Downey (Zen Buddhist — Robertson, Cape Town and Knysna), Mlu Dywili, Ds Johan Els, Rev Peter Fox (Presbyterian), Mary Frost, Rev Fr Stefan Hippler, Adv Paul Hoffman, SC (director, Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa), Janey Hulley (Member of the Christian Life Community), Alan Jackson, Rhoda Kadalie, Mohammed Kagee (Claremont Main Road Mosque), Stephanie Kilroe, Peter Kjeseth, Horst Kleinschmidt, Rev Judith Kotzé, Rev Robert Kruger, Irma Liberty (Cape Town Inter-faith Initiative), Hillary Loening, Professor Walter Loening, Christoffel Lombard (Desmond Tutu Chair for Ecumenical Theology and Social Transformation at UWC), Bulelani Macwili (Cultural activist and diviner, African Traditional Religion), The Most Rev Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba (Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town), Rev Mveleli Freeman Matandela, Hendrik Jeremy Mentz, Janet Mills, Paul Mills, Ann Morton, Di Oliver, Rev Gordon Oliver (Unitarian), Richard Oxtoby, Rev James Patrick, Fr Graham Pugin (Community Superior, UCT Chaplain, CLC National Ecclesiastical Assistant SA and Botswana), Michael Rice, Ruth Rice, Rommel Roberts, Gwynne Schrire, Sylvia Schrire, Delia Scott, John Scott, Joan Shippey (Christian Science Church), Rev Rowan Smith (former Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town), Moses Standaar, Rev Robert Steiner (Rondebosch United Church), Rev Dr Peter Storey (former President of the Methodist Church of South Africa, former president of the South African Council of Churches), Dieks Theron, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Michael van Breda, Helen Veitch, Neil Veitch, Rev Wim Vermeulen (Eastern Cape), Swami Vidyananda (Ananda Kutir Ashrama), Veronica Wantenaar, Rev Michael Weeder (Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town), Rev Harry Wiggett (Anglican Priest), and members of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers): Neil Brathwaite, George Ellis, Kaye Foskett, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (Executive Director, Embrace Dignity), Delia Marshall, Tony Marshall, Mary Newman, Jeremy Routledge, Diane Salters, George Stegmann, Sadie Stegmann, Graham Thomas, Martli Tuffin, Peter Tuffin, and Michael Williams

Cape Times