Address by the Gauteng Premier, Ms Nomvula
Mokonyane, during the 50th celebration of Methodist
Church of South Africa – KAGISO SOCIETY,
20 NOVEMBER 2011
Resident Minister of the Church, Reverend Lekeka
Members of the Church;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Religious institutions, like the church, continue to play an
important role in nurturing our young democracy. They are
centres of influence in society. They are especially powerful
because they play a major role in forming and informing the
consciousness of our people. In the African context in
particular, religion is a major source of the development of
worldview and values.
Therefore, the role of churches in our society is a critical one.
Religion plays a significant role in helping government in its
programmes such as community development and also
discouraging risky lifestyles. The church’s role in this new
democracy is to open itself to change from within as it
transforms itself into an institution in sync with societal
expectations. It must participate as an agent of
transformation within the society of which it is part of.
It was the world’s churchmen that stood up and supported
South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. Among the
pioneers who helped arouse the conscience of the West to its
responsibility were many church people - including some who
served in South Africa and were expelled for their sympathy
with the Africans. People like the Reverend Michael Scott,
Father Trevor Huddleston, Canon L. John Collins and Bishop
Ambrose Reeves in Britain, Rev. Gunnar Helander in
Sweden, Professor J. Verkuyl in the Netherlands and George
Houser in the United States.
As a result of their efforts, committees were formed to
publicise the situation in South Africa and support the
movement for freedom. They sent modest assistance to the
African National Congress (ANC) during the Defiance
Campaign in 1952. When all the top leaders of the ANC were
detained in 1956 and charged with high treason, they
collected substantial funds from the public for their legal
defense and for assistance to their families.
Today, Programme Director, South Africa is facing
challenges of a different kind. These challenges range from
poverty, HIV and Aids to domestic violence. And these
challenges are not the ones that the government can solve
We are also contending with the erosion of moral fibre in our
society. Many children are abuse and violated by people they
trust. Our elders suffer humiliation and indignity in the hands
of our own people. Drugs and alcohol have become a new
form of recreation amongst the young ones. Respect for
authority and one another has gone to the dogs.
In this regard, as government, we call upon all churches to
partner with us to renew the decaying moral fibre of our
society. Churches must reclaim their role of being the
epitome of a good moral standing in society.
When this country was at the threshold of falling into the dark
abyss of self destruction, it was the spirit of forgiveness and
reconciliation preached by our churches which filled the
hearts of the great leaders of our country and helped our
people, as a whole, to embrace one another as a new united
nation. Our churches continue to play an important role in
shaping our society and improving the lives of people in all
I want to praise our churches and church leaders today for
the positive role they are playing in our societies - often
taking the lead in social upliftment projects, adult education
and training, HIV and Aids counselling and dealing with the
trauma of violence against women and children.
Churches and government both have important roles to play
in ensuring social cohesion and moral regeneration, but
government only creates a policy framework and can never
assume the role that churches have in societies. They
provide the spiritual bonds that hold together our
communities plagued by crime, poverty and HIV and Aids.
I also want to call on our churches and church leaders to
again join government from 25 November to 10 December
this year in mobilising support for the International 16 Days of
No Violence Against Women and Children.
The scourge of violence against women and children remains
one of the most critical challenges of our country. The harsh
reality is that the most vulnerable members of our
communities and families are being targeted by the worst
kinds of criminals.
I would like to share with you the findings of the Gauteng
Gender Violence Prevalence Study titled: The war @ home,
by Gender Links and the Medical Research Council, released
early this year which painted a gloomy picture about levels of
violence against women in our province.
It found that over half the women of Gauteng (51.2%) have
experienced some form of violence (emotional, economic,
physical or sexual) in their lifetime and 78.3% of men in the
province admitted to perpetrating some form of violence
The survey showed that while political conflict in the country
has subsided, homes and communities are still far from safe,
especially for women. This cannot be right. It cannot continue
unabated. The time has come for the churches to take the
stand because churches play a significant role in building
communities and instilling fundamental human values.
We live in times of advanced stage of civilisation. Yet
suffering and grinding poverty continues to strangle millions
of people. It is a blot that put all of human race to shame
especially when the world has enough if not abundant
resources to eliminate the scourge. It is in light of this that the
relevance of the church, its role in society becomes critical.
The church is better positioned to foster meaningful change.
As such, the church becomes one of the necessary
institutions that the government can tap in and partner with in
a fight for better life for all. The task therefore of the church is
to encourage positive collaboration amongst community
organs so as to work for the improvement of people’s
Considering the history of the church, it transpires that from
time immemorial the church has always been on the side of
the poor and powerless. Its work has always find meaning in
the upliftment of the downtrodden, the liberation of the
shackled and the soothing of the injured.
So it stands to reason that the church working close with
various structures of government in our parishes, will not only
strengthen relationships but assist in enhancing service
delivery. I therefore appeal to all of you to work closely with
government organs wherever you are stationed so that we
can build a better Gauteng for all to enjoy.
God bless Africa