Faith community asked to stand up and lift democracy higher

The Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, has asked the faith community to stand up and lift South Africa's constitutional democracy to a higher level.

She was speaking during the 5th Reverend Abraham Mitsi Maja Lecture in Polokwane at the weekend. The annual event is organised by the Limpopo branch of the South African Council of Churches.

Delivering the lecture, which focused on state of governance in South Africa in the last 20 years, Public Protector Madonsela said the best contribution the faith community could make was not to let the flame of democracy die.

Explaining the statement, Public Protector Madonsela related an anecdote about a group of people who froze to death because a fire they had been seating around died down. Each member of the group died while holding onto their log of wood because they did not want use the logs to keep the flame burning for the benefit of the next person.

"We must not let the flame of democracy die by withholding our logs of wood when we should be using them to keep the fire burning," she said. "You cannot light another person's path without lighting your own."

Public Protector Madonsela said the faith community had a crucial role to play in promoting ethical conduct and mobilising society towards walking the talk on good governance, thereby uplifting democracy.

She said through promoting exemplary ethical conduct, in particular, conduct among those entrusted with public power, the quality of life of the people of South Africa would be improved.

Noting the progress that the country has recorded over the last 20 years on governance, Public Protector Madonsela referred to the constitutional promise of an improved quality of life and a freed potential for all as well as the basic right outlined in the Bill of Rights. She noted that the Constitution set standards on what the character of state should be, the ethical standards that the executive should uphold, public administration principles, constitutional obligations that ought to be prioritised and delivered on with diligence and how public procurement should be handled.

In addition, Public Protector Madonsela noted that the democratic dispensation had established a sound legal framework that was complemented by an arsenal of oversight agencies, including her office.

She further noted while a lot of progress had been made in improving the lives of people, there were a few fault lines that had to be addressed. These included inadequate or distorted accountability to shareholders/citizens with an increasing trust deficit; emerging culture of lack of respect for the rule of law; lapses in leadership and leadership ethics or integrity; lack of Batho Pele ethos; a fragmented integrity sector that does not operate seamlessly and inadequate skills, knowledge and values.

Public Protector Madonsela told the delegates that if they joined hands they could ensure that the quality of public sector governance and pace of service delivery were accelerated and a constitutional promise of an improved quality of life and freed potential for all becomes the reality of every child, young person, adult and senior citizen of this country regardless of the race, gender, class, geographic area or any other group they belong to. She lauded the faith community for its continuous role in building a better South Africa, calling for strengthened synergies between the faith community and institutions supporting constitutional democracy.

"By virtue of its status in society, the faith community, more than most sectors, has the responsibility to lead efforts geared at ensuring that the state is accountable, operates with integrity and is responsive to the needs of our people," Public Protector Madonsela said. She said this would be an ideal and better way to honour struggle icons like Rev. Maja, while ensuring that their struggles were not in vain.

Public Protector Madonsela also joined the entire faith community and the world in paying tribute to the late Dr. Myles Munroe, his wife, daughter and staff.

She described Dr. Munroe as a servant of God who left the world a better place than he found while inspiring others to do the same.

For more information, contact:
Oupa Segalwe
Acting Spokesperson
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273
Twitter: @PublicProtector
Facebook:Public Protector South Africa

Published Date: 
Monday, November 17, 2014