"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man." Proverbs 24:30-34
Crime and Grime
If dirt and decay describe your municipality, then it is time to change the mayor and town councilors. Crime and grime go together. "Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks." Ecclesiastes 10: 18
"He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer." Proverbs 18:9
"Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts." Proverbs 22:25-26.
Foundations for Freedom
For communities to be strong, their families need to be strong. For city councils to be good, the citizens need to be good. Those who cannot control themselves are not capable of ruling over a city (Proverbs 16:32). Those who cannot manage their households well are not qualified to lead others (1 Timothy 3:4-5).
Civil Governments are Meant to be Civil Servants
Our Lord Jesus taught that "whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant." Matthew 20:26. Our Lord Jesus Christ made it clear that civil authorities are to be public servants (Matthew 20:25-28).
A Public Service
It is for this reason that officials in civil government are called ministers, or servants, of God (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14). The word used here is deacon. Just as a minister in the church is to be a minister of Grace, so a minister in government is to be a minister of Justice. Both serve God and man. The concept that civil government is a servant of its citizens is a uniquely Christian idea that originated from these verses. Hence the concept of cabinet minister and a prime minister as the first servant. I still remember when cabinet ministers used to sign their letters: Your humble servant!
Sacrificial Service to the Community
When I was growing up, city councillors and members of parliament were not actually paid for their service. They received only basic expenses and needed to have real jobs to sustain themselves. For example, my History teacher in high school was a member of the Rhodesian parliament. He was not absent from the school often, as parliament only meta couple weeks of the year. Even then I remember him saying that they received free train tickets to travel to parliament in Salisbury, and if they wanted to fly, it was at their own expense.
Not a Scheme for Personal Enrichment
At that time, the kind of people who offered themselves for public service as town councilors and members of parliament, tended to have been successful job providers in the community and able to donate their time to city council or legislative duties. Certainly, entering politics at that time was not a get rich-quick scheme! Civil servants were sacrificing time and talent for the common good.
The Curse of Corruption
Today, unfortunately, it would seem that all too many, in what was meant to be "public service" see it as an opportunity for self-serving criminals to loot public resources. The African Union reports that over 25% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa is looted every year by government corruption. That means more than a quarter of the total wealth of Africa is stolen by so-called civil servants! That is ten times more than all the foreign aid to Africa combined!
Corruption Steals from Everyone
Some have tried to say that corruption does not hurt anyone. Actually corruption steals from absolutely everyone. It chases away tourists, investors and job creators. It devalues currency. It reduces the value of everyone's savings, earnings, and pensions. It erodes and implodes any economy. Corruption more than any other single cause, is responsible for most of the poverty and joblessness in society!
What Can We Do About It?
Now, many people may say that there is little that they can do about this. Actually there is much that each one of us can do. First of all, we need to rediscover the Christian work ethic and Biblical Principles for Africa. We should be studying what the Bible teaches on economics, free enterprise and honest money, the Biblical solutions to crime, Biblical commands to a nation, political principles in the teachings of Christ, Biblical solutions to crime, and how we can be salt and light, applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life. Education is foundational. The philosophy of education in this generation will become the philosophy of government in the next generation.
Restore Biblical Christian Principles to Your Community
Secondly, we can all do something to reclaim and restore our communities. The Biblical principle that each community has the God-given right and responsibility to elect their own leaders, from among their own people, was established during the Evangelisation of Europe over 14 centuries ago. It has been recognised in the Common Law of England, established under The Dooms of King Alfred, and in Magna Carta of 1215, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, and other foundational statutes. No taxation is lawful unless it has been approved by representatives of the class and community who are being taxed. The right for every community to govern themselves and to determine who are to be entrusted with the stewardship of their resources has been foundational for over a millennium of Christian civilisation.
"You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach." Nehemiah 2:17
Learn from the Past
Those of us who are old enough remember a time when our communities were clean, neat, safe and attractive. When I was growing up we had no knowledge of, or need for, high walls, barbed wire and razor wire fences, electric fencing, security gates, burglar bars, motion sensors, steering locks and armed response companies. Indeed, none of these concepts were even known among us. There was no need.
Before Burglar Bars and Security Gates
I never needed to worry about finding myself locked out of home, because the front door was seldom locked and even if it was, I could always walk around to the back door, which would be open. In the unlikely event that the back door was locked, one could always climb through a window, as we never had burglar bars in those days.
I do not think my parents drove me to school more than a couple of times in my whole life. It was safe to catch the bus, or train, or walk, or cycle, across town. Today, parents may be thought derelict in their duty and irresponsible if they would allow their children the kind of freedom that we had growing up. When I was just 12 years old, I remember walking to Khami Ruins, (about 20km outside of Bulawayo) on a Saturday, alone. On the way I could see zebra, kudu, giraffe, rhinos and wildebeest. This was not in a game park, this was just beyond the city limits. My parents didn't need to know where I was wandering, as long as I was home when the sun set, and that was while our country was at war!
Children at Risk
Our children today, who are often called born free, know little or nothing about such freedom. Now, children are targeted by drug dealers, rapists and paedophiles. Children are in danger of being mugged on the way to school and sold drugs at school.
The Secularisation of Society
To a large extent the reason for this drastic deterioration in our local communities has come from the secular humanist worldview, news media and entertainment industry, which has been undermining Christian foundations and promoting situation ethics, glorifying violence and glamourising crime.
The Curse of Centralisation
It has also, to a large extent, been the inevitable result of the amalgamation of municipalities, and the centralisation of power in unicities.
The Crisis that Confronts Us
Instead of local control over own municipalities, often with our own local municipal police to protect the interests and property of each municipality, we now have professional politicians who neither know about our community, nor care. Rates and taxes have sky rocketed, while services have plummeted. The beautiful gardens and verges of our suburbs have been allowed to decay and die. The streets are now often strewn with rubbish, litter and graffiti. The countryside has been polluted and filled with plastic bags and broken glass. Litterbugs, loiterers, beggars, opportunistic thieves, and gangsters prowl the streets, breaking into vehicles and homes, turning what used to be close-knit communities into areas resembling a war zone, with zoo-like bars over the windows and high electric and razor wire fences surrounding what used to be friendly neighbourhoods.
"…Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." Nehemiah 4:14
What is Needed if We are To Reclaim and Restore Our Communities?
1. For God's honour and glory, and as faithful stewards of resources to serve our neighbours and God's creatures, only ratepayers should be allowed to vote in municipal elections. Only long-term residents who have excelled in serving the community should be eligible to stand as candidates for any municipality.
2. In order not to attract professional politicians and those with a looting mentality, no salaries, beyond basic expenses, should be provided for town councilors and mayors. There should be no opportunities for civil servants to loot the resources so painstakingly built up over generations, by residents and ratepayers.
3. Decentralisation is absolutely essential. Each local community should have direct control over their own municipalities.
4. Each local municipality should be enabled to maintain their own local police force to protect the interests and property of each community.
5. No litter, or pollution, is to be tolerated. In order to eradicate the crime, the first priority is to eradicate the grime that so often encourages it. No littering, pan-handling, beggars and opportunistic thieves are to be tolerated in any community.
6. Charitable work is to be supported and every opportunity given to care for those less fortunate through ministries such as the Salvation Army and the Ark.
7. Parks for children must be carefully maintained, be kept clean, safe and protected from broken glass, drunkards, drug dealers and pedophiles.
8. Municipalities must become drug-free and crime-free, with zero-tolerance for crime.
9. Municipalities should set a high priority on restoring the gardens, verges, and traffic islands and beautify the inner cities, reforest the suburbs and set up lights in public areas to discourage crime.
10. Municipal taxes may only be used for the local community. The unicity plundering of rates and taxes ostensibly to "serve less privileged communities", have proved to only be a cover for massive corruption on a colossal scale. When each local municipality administers their own taxes for their own areas, it will bring down the burden on everyone and make available far more for charitable, person-to-person, congregation to congregation, community to community, responsible giving that will go along with restoration and upliftment.
The best way to restore pride, responsibility and ownership of residents and ratepayers is to give them back control over their own municipalities.
We need to support political parties and municipal candidates who will work for self-determination and self-government with self-supporting and self-regulating municipalities.
Protecting our Families
Families are the basic building block of every society. It is of the highest priority to protect the family by protecting children from all threats and bad influences. This includes ensuring that loiterers, who are often drug dealers or paedophiles, are kept away from any community and particularly near schools and areas where children walk to and from their homes, schools and sports, to scouts, guides and youth groups. Local authorities should ensure that no liquor stores or sexually orientated businesses are near schools, or where children travel past. By re-establishing local municipal police forces which are entirely drawn from the community concerned, who know the people and are known by them, we can work to eradicate threats to our communities. "Do not remove the ancient landmark, nor enter the fields of the fatherless." Proverbs 23:10
Mobilise the Community to Take Back their Municipality
Community clean-up drives are needed. To ensure that all are committed to fighting litter, pollution and grime, it is important to involve all the residents, clubs, societies and community. Churches, youth groups, women's groups, men's groups, Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides, Rotary Clubs, schools and businesses can set a standard by planting trees, bushes and flowers, painting over graffiti, providing water bowls and fountains in public places for the birds and pets, restoring the play parks, jungle gyms and skate ramps for youth, undertaking Neighbourhood Watch patrols and being good neighbours to those in need. "Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In." Isaiah 58:12.
Fight Cancer in our Communities
The damage to monuments, museums and the environment throughout this country, testifies to the cancer of Crime, Arson, Nepotism, Corruption, Exploitation and Riotous behaviour, which has been tolerated for far too long. It is time to stop the looting and polluting of our communities. Let us restore to ratepayers and homeowners the control of the municipalities that administer their communities for the benefit of all and for the health and economy of our children and grandchildren's generation. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Proverbs 14:34
Resources for Reformation and Transformation
For further documentation and other relevant articles on Municipal and National Elections, visit www.SAvotersguide.org and www.christianaction.org.za.
Obtain Biblical Principles for Africa book from Christian Liberty Books.
2016 Biblical Issues Voters’ Guide
The 2016 Biblical Issues Voters’ Guide – detailing the positions of 7 leading political parties on 8 key Biblical issues - is now available from www.SAvotersguide.org Download and email, or distribute quantities to your congregation, community and colleagues.
Quantities can be ordered from Africa Christian Action, call 021 –6894481 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two-page version (with documentation) is available in English and Afrikaans. The one-page version of the Voters’ Guide is available in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu.
The Savotersguide.org website also features relevant articles, helpful links, downloadable Voter Education Powerpoints, plus view responses of political parties to the Christian Action Network’s Policy Survey.
It Is Time to Mobilise the Silent Majority
It is disturbing that more than half of eligible voters do not bother to vote in either national or municipal elections. Yet when you speak to many of these people, they say, "what difference can I make?" When more than half of the voters are saying that they don’t believe that their vote can make a difference, then there is something radically wrong! "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous." Deuteronomy 16:18-19
"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17
Dr. Peter Hammond
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
7735 Cape Town
Tel: 021-689 4481