OPINION: Prayer a weapon to fight injustice
President Jacob Zuma’s departure is by no means the silver bullet that will cure the ills of our society, but it is a good starting point, writes Reverend Moss Ntlha.
There is historical precedence for South Africans praying for the removal of unjust rule.
It is to this that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu alluded a few years ago, on the occasion of the refusal of a visa for the Dalai Lama. On that occasion the Arch warned that the time may soon be here when South Africans would pray for the end of ANC rule, as they had done in the 1980s when many progressive clergy like Allan Boesak, Frank Chikane and others included prayer in their arsenal of struggle against the apartheid regime.
They were not doing anything new in the long history of struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Even in 1912, when many leaders of faith and non-faith gathered in Mangaung to launch what we know today as the African National Congress, the occasion started with a hymn and a prayer. While we have no record of the prayer offered at the opening of that gathering, we do know the quest for freedom that burned in the hearts of those who gathered in that Methodist church to imagine a new South Africa.
The context then was a colonial one. Then, as now, the rulers were self-serving, determined to loot the wealth of the country for their colonial masters in Europe. Then, as now, the people tapped into their spiritual resources, through hymns and prayers, what became an epic struggle to defeat colonialism and apartheid.
To this day our national anthem bears the marks of the spirituality of our forebears who dared to envisage a different future while they were in the belly of the beast of evil and injustice. They knew that evil has a spiritual foundation, and to defeat it requires spiritual power. So, too, to remain free from its tendency to claw back its victims, we must all remain vigilant.
The JZ presidency has been more costly than anyone suspected a president could be. The moral, political and economic cost has been immense and it may take a long time to recover from it. When Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng called the president out for having broken his oath of office, it confirmed that not even the most sacred covenant of the people of South Africa, the constitution, was sacrosanct to the president and those around him. In his defence, it is fair to say no one can be responsible for so much damage. What can be said, though, is that it takes one person, strategically positioned as head of state, to select partners in crime and deploy them appropriately in different positions of state and state-operated enterprises. From these positions the machinery of state capture would be easy to set in place.
With that done, the millions of South Africans who stood in line to cast their vote for freedom in 1994 might as well have stayed at home. The state they sought to democratise has been recaptured, with full permission of the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. It would now serve the interests other than those of the people.
It is for this reason a growing number of South Africans are praying in a focused way about the removal of the root cause of the decay of our state machinery.
President Jacob Zuma’s departure is by no means the silver bullet that will cure the ills of our society, but it is a good starting point.
Prayer for South Africa 2016
Our God in heaven, we worship and adore You.
Hallowed be your Name in all the earth.
We are thankful for the many blessings bestowed on our nation over the last 21 years. We thank you for the constitution of our nation, and the different institutions that strengthen our democracy.
We thank you for the rainbow people of our country and their quest to realise the promise of freedom and justice.
We celebrate much forward movement made in our nation in different ways over the last 21 years. We celebrate the strengths and talents of the diverse people of this land as they work out what it means to be the South Africa that is just, prosperous and inclusive.
We lament the failures of our leaders to live up to their calling to lead with integrity and justice as servants of the people.
We lament their betrayal of the hopes of so many of your people who are still to be set free from the bondages of poverty, ignorance and disease.
We lament the many signs that point to the fact that ours is a captured state that can no longer be answerable to the people of South Africa.
We repent from our high tolerance of rampant corruption in our public institutions, and for allowing evil to triumph on our watch.
We pray for the removal of those in government who have made themselves instruments of evil and corruption. We ask you to remove them from positions of influence which they have used to harm your people.
We pray that you raise others who have a heart to serve with diligence and faithfulness.
We pray that you strengthen the hand of those who serve Your people well.
We pray for the swift removal of the State President from power, for disrespecting his oath of office and plunging our nation into crisis through his lack of ethical leadership.
We thank You for answering our prayers, for all power and glory belongs to You, now and forever more.
* Moss Ntlha is chair of the South African Christian Leaders Initiative (SACLI) and general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA). SACLI is one of the partners behind the Save South Africa coalition. SACLI aims to bring Christian leaders together to serve and speak to a vision of a just and peaceful South Africa.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.