I was somewhat taken aback to read this news on Dion Forster's website, and quickly flipped over to The Times to make sure that my eyes weren't deceiving me.
Now I must say that if this news is subsequently confirmed, I have mixed feelings about it.
On the one hand, it's important that Christians use their God-given talent in whatever sphere they are called to, and Lord knows we could do with a Godly person leading this country. I haven't personally met Rev Dandala, but from what I have heard from various quarters, he is a relatively young, dynamic man possessing the utmost integrity (SA's answer to Barack Obama, perhaps?). On the other hand, my understanding of our disciplines is that while Methodist ministers are free to exercise their democratic right to vote for the party of their choice, becoming a part of a particular party is another matter entirely. It is for this reason that I have resolved never to become a card-carrying member of any political party.
I am therefore concerned that these developments, as was the case when another past Presiding Bishop of the MCSA, Rev M Stanley Mogoba, left the church to become the leader of the PAC some years back, somehow go against our stance of being "neutral" as far as direct participation in party politics is concerned.
Having said that, one must be fair to Rev Dandala in that he has not held office in the MCSA for some years. One must also remember that Dr Martin Luther King Jr, one of the leading lights of the American Civil Rights movement, was a Baptist minister. Let us also not forget the prophetic voice that was (and still is) Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (although, to my knowledge, he has never entered politics, with his fight against apartheid coming from the perspective of his role as the leader of the Anglican Church).
So if it is true that Rev Dandala is in fact going to be COPE's presidential candidate, my prayers are that he will bring integrity and Godliness to the South African political landscape in a way that is both meaningful and influential.
In fact, I was somewhat undecided as to who to vote for in the upcoming elections. This news has probably determined who will get my "X" this year.
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