An Open Letter to the DA from Concerned Secular Citizens (following  Angus Buchan Meeting)

by South African Secular Society | 29 April 2017
To Mmusi Maimane, the Democratic Alliance leadership and Democratic Alliance party members

We greet you warmly, as fellow South Africans.

It is of great concern to us that several prominent Democratic Alliance Party members, including the Party President Mmusi Maimane and Provincial Leader Patricia Kopane, have promoted and attended the “It’s Time” gathering organised by Angus Buchan of Shalom Ministries.

Mr. Buchan’s views are both vocal and in the public record as being in contradiction to our Constitution, the Bill of Rights , and the foundational principles of post-Apartheid South Africa. This is further reinforced by the list of “prayer points” that were the focus of the “It’s Time” gathering.

Mr. Buchan not only promotes a “Christian Government”, but also pledges support for the “normalisation” of South African society to a religious fundamentalism based on his interpretation of Christianity. This includes the concept of a religion-based education system, vilification and “treatment” of homosexuality, the promotion of violent discipline of children, the subjugation of women and their rights, and the denigration and exclusion of other faiths and beliefs.

As a concerned group, we desire clarity as to the reasons why prominent Democratic Alliance Party members attended and promoted this event—given that some of the themes of the “It’s Time” event contradict the Constitution and the very principles of the Democratic Alliance Party, itself. We acknowledge the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion for all South Africans, including public figures and political representatives. However, we also hold that leaders who represent society have an additional obligation to uphold and protect the values of the Constitution.

Firstly, does the Democratic Alliance support, endorse and aim to promote Angus Buchan’s views on the establishment of a “Christian Government”?

If not, why were prominent party members in attendance as official representatives of the Party—and in particular Mmusi Maimane and Patricia Kopane?

Furthermore, as the attendance of this event could be construed as politicking to attract and garner support from followers and supporters of Mr. Buchan, are we to assume or expect more populist politics from the Democratic Alliance as the new norm? Will the Democratic Alliance pursue the goals and support of other such religious fundamentalist groups?

The Democratic Alliance—and specifically Mr. Maimane—must be clear and explain what they endorse in terms of Mr. Buchan’s views. Support of such views by individuals in positions of political influence and power represents a considerable threat to our Rights and Democracy—not only to secular citizens, but to all South Africans.

We appreciate the current initiatives to unite South Africa against corruption in the government; this is to be encouraged. However, the Democratic Alliance can not be seen to endorse fundamentalist groups or individuals such as Angus Buchan merely to garner support, and in the process be seen to endorse and condone their views. Like the highly respected Judge Mogoeng, we expect Mr. Maimane to separate his religious sentiments from his position as leader of the Democratic Alliance and as a Member of Parliament.

South Africa is a secular, Constitutional Democracy. When prominent representatives of the Democratic Alliance publicly support and associate with such organisations and events, they undermine the values of their party and our hard-won Democracy.

We thank you for considering our submission and look forward to receiving your responses.

We wish you continued strength in the service of our country and its people.

Concerned Secular Citizens