The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Christian leaders have presented a decalogue of proposals to the political parties, and launched 'Kingdom Nation', which aims to help Christians to vote from a biblical perspective.
More than 20 million people will decide this Wednesday, May 8, the President of the main economic power of the African continent; South Africa.
It is a historic election, since some believe in a possible defeat of the African National Congress (ANC), the party of Nelson Mandela that governs the country since 1994, when the apartheid was ended.
One of those is the former General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA), and evangelical pastor, Moss Ntlha.
According to Ntlha, ”for the first time, the strength and growing confidence of opposition parties means that there is a real possibility that the ruling party could be an opposition party”.
“Everything is possible in these elections”, he told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.
“THERE IS STILL HOPE”
In February 2018, President, Jacob Zuma resigned for different cases of corruption, and in these elections the ANC presented Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been the President during the last year, as the candidate of the restoration.
“The hope and goodwill that characterised the presidencies of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, was squandered by the last 8 years of the presidency of Jacob Zuma, who raised corruption to astonishing levels. Inequality deepened, as did poverty and unemployment. The glue of a non racial future began to wear off”, Ntlha said.
However, the pastor pointed out that “there is still hope, because there appears to be a willingness by the current president Cyril Ramaphosa, to fight corruption and lead the country out of economic stagnation”.
Meanwhile, the priority of the main opposition parties (the liberal and traditionally white Democratic Alliance of Mmusi Maimane, and the far-left party Economic Freedom Fighters, led by Julius Malema) is to convince the most of two million undecided voters, Dailysun reports.
HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT RATES
Unemployment is one of the great political challenges in South Africa.
With an unemployment rate of more than 27% , according to the government's statistics department, the country is well above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 5.2 %.
“South Africans continue to be plagued by high unemployment and widespread poverty and deepening inequality”, Ntlha confirmed.
That is why, according to a poll made by Sowetan Live, “Many young South Africans (aged 18-24) feel neither represented nor excited by the nation's leadership and direction, with 52% of respondents stating that they distrust the ruling ANC. 42% said the word which best described their feelings on future is ‘concerned'".
Corruption has brought social tension, especially this last year. With more than 800 cases under investigation at the time of the resignation of Zuma, South Africa ranks 73rd out of a list of 180 countries, in the Transparency International Index.
“It does not help the ruling party at all that, month after month over the last 8 months, state corruption cases have been on TV daily. One thing South Africans can be proud of is a vibrant and resilient democracy with strong institutions”, Ntlha pointed out.
However, “over the last 8 years of Jacob Zuma's rule, these institutions, such as the revenue services, the agency of criminal prosecution, as well as state companies, such as the electricity company Eskom, have been captured by rogue politicians , sponsored by the former President”, he added.
CHRISTIAN INITIATIVES FOR THE ELECTION
Different Christian leaders have launched the campaign 'Christian consensus', representing about two million evangelicals in the country, which consists of a decalogue of proposals that have been presented to the different political parties.
The proposals include “zero tolerance for crime, biblical family values, an inclusive and productive economy, high quality education for all and religious freedom and constitutionalism”, among others.
The only parties that have responded to the document are small, such as the African Christian Democratic Party, which “is still minuscule to make a difference, and therefore does not offer voters a viable alternative”, Ntlha explained.
They have also promoted a prayer campaign throughout South Africa, and have launced a tool called 'Kingdom Nation', which aims to help Christians to vote from a biblical perspective.
“Do you know the values each party stands for? Make a wise decision and an informed choice. Use your vote to make a change in South Africa”, it reads in the website.
According to Joshua Project, 77.5% of the South African population is Christian. Of these, 48% define as independent, while about 27% identify themselves as Protestants and 22% Catholics.