Statement by the Minister Paul Mashatile, at the young men’s guild convention of the Methodist church of Southern Africa, Katlehong
The leadership of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
The leadership of the Young Men’s Guild
Officials from the Department of Arts and Culture
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me begin by saying; One way! One heart! One heart! One way!
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the membership and the leadership of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa for inviting us to this Convention of the Young Men’s Guild.
Programme Director, we come to this gathering not as outsiders. We are here as your partners in the development of our society.
In particular, we are your partners in our ongoing and collective quest to build a proud, caring and humane South African society; that belongs to all who live in it; a prosperous society whose benefits are enjoyed by all.
This is a society founded on sound family and human values; a society that places a high premium on morality, human solidarity and collectivism.
Our presence here today is an indication of our commitment to join hands with you, so that together we can confront the challenges our society faces, and together build a country we can all be proud to call home.
For us as the African National Congress and the ANC led government, working with the Church to address societal problems is not a new thing.
We say this because since its founding, more than hundred years ago, the ANC has maintained close relations with the Church.
As you know, many of those who founded the ANC in 1912, were Churchmen and women. The ANC itself was founded in a Methodist Church, in Waaihoek, in Mangaung.
It therefore comes as no surprise that; the song, which up to this day is sung by Methodists all over; Lizalis’idingalakho, Thixo Nkosi yenyaniso (God of Truth fulfill Your promise); was also sung at the founding Conference of the ANC.
Some of the ANC’s founding fathers and early leaders were believers and in particular Christian.
We refer here to leaders such as;
- Reverend John Langalibalele Dube, the first President General of the ANC and Minister of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA);
- Mapogo Makgatho, the second President General of the ANC, who was also a Methodist leaders and lay preacher;
- Reverend Z.R. Mahabane; the third President of the ANC and Minister of the AME Church and President of the Inter-denominational African Minister’s Federation; what is today known as IDAMASA;
- Albert Luthuli; the 9th President of the ANC and a lay preacher of the UCCSA;
- Reverend Walter Rubusana, one of the Vice Presidents of the ANC and;
- Charlotte Maxeke one of the women who attended the founding Conference of the ANC in Mangaung who was a lay preacher at the AME Church.
In the latter years of the struggle the Methodist Church continued to make a significant contribution to the attainment of freedom.
A number of leaders of this Church such as Dr. Khoza Mgojo, Reverend Mvume Dandala and many others played a crucial role in securing the freedom and democracy we today enjoy.
I am also told that this church building in particular served as a safe haven during the dark days of violent confrontation in this area.
By doing all of these things as church members you were demonstrating that the Church has an important role to play in communities and that indeed it cannot be divorced from the suffering of the people it serves.
Today almost 20 years into our freedom and democracy; our country continues to face a number of challenges. Key among these challenges is unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Crime, corruption, gender based violence and the abuse of women and children threaten to dim the flame of hope we lit in 1994; at the dawn of our freedom and democracy.
Working together as South Africans, including the Church, we must confront the challenges we face.
Together we must say; NO to crime and corruption! NO to violence directed at women, children and the elderly! NO to the rape of women and children!
Indeed we must say NO to all the things that erode our society’s moral fiber.
Equally we must work together to advance the socio-economic development of our communities.
We must put our collective shoulder to the wheel towards ongoing efforts to expand access to job and other economic opportunities, especially for the youth.
I take this opportunity to urge you as the Young Men’s Guild to take a lead in combating the challenges we face.
As part of your commitment to develop your members evangelically, devotionally, educationally and socio economically; I ask of you to get more involved in the national effort to build a better life for all.
I urge you to spread the message to your members and to all men that; Real men do not abuse women and children! Real men are responsible. They care for women, children and the elderly.
I also ask of you to be at the forefront of efforts to build moral, humane and caring communities where you live. I ask of you to assist us spread the message of respect as well as good, honest and ethical behavior in our communities.
Together let us entrench in our communities the progressive values of Ubuntu; that teach us that; Umuntu ngumuntu gabantu.
Specifically, I call on you to partner with us in programmes of the Moral Regeneration Movement.
I also ask of you to work with us as we promote national healing, social cohesion and nation building; all of which are critical in ensuring sustainable development.
In this regard, we look forward to working with you as we implement the programme of action adopted at the National Summit on Social Cohesion last July.
This programme of action is aimed at assisting us as South Africans to make new and decisive advances towards the noble goal of one nation, one country, one people and a shared destiny that belongs to all who live in it, Black and White, united in our diversity.
The programme will assist us to work together to build a society where there is respect, equality and human dignity for all; a society that places a high premium on the rule of law and democracy; a society with sound family and community values; that upholds honesty, integrity and loyalty; shows respect and concern for all people; strives for justice, fairness and peaceful coexistence.
These are some of the values contained in the Charter of Positive Values which we must work towards deepening in our society.
Programme Director, the tasks before us are enormous. They require that we hold hands and work together.
I trust therefore that after this Convention you will take the hand we are today holding out to you; to continue partnering with us as we find comprehensive responses to the challenges of our country.
Let us work together towards realizing the vision of those men and women who in 1912; when they saw that the road ahead will be long, steep and winding, called on the God of Truth to fulfill His promise and sang: Lizalise idinga lakho, Thixo Nkosi yenyaniso!