I have no doubt that the God we all pray has been good to us all and most importantly to our beloved federation. We continue to give thanks to the Lord for the precious gift of humanity and the present composition of our human element, the wonderful warm people of our federation.
The first half of the term of office 2013-2014 is coming to an end and when one looks down the memory lane from where we were in nearly 8 months ago to where we are, a great deal of work has been done. When the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) met for its first joined sitting, on the 30th August 2013 to 1st September 2013, a crucial question was posed, “What are we planning to do for this term of office?”, after a lot of ideas had been bounced in the air, we all agreed that we would put our emphasis on leadership and unity through intensive training and development of the leadership within the An’socs , Anglicanism through more involvement of the chaplains and the rejuvenation of dead and establishment of new An’Socs.
Accordingly I would like to take this opportunity to thank the PEC and the REC’s (Regional Executive Committees) for the hard work done and inform the ASF family on the progress being done. Among other things, and central to the work of the PEC, we have been able to solve the problems of leadership in the Limpopo region, where there was no REC. The region had elected the regional task team, which was initially formed in the absence of a quorum to elect the regional executive. The work of this task team was to first act as the REC and second to rejuvenate UNIVEN An’Soc (University of Venda) but it failed on both tasks which made it difficult for a smooth transition between the PEC and the region since the BEC in charge then was also not co-operative. Confronted by the reality that as the PEC we had to take charge for the betterment of the region, we advised the region on its joined sitting to elect one executive committee that would function both as the REC and the BEC since Limpopo region has only one active branch and to avoid two centers of power which had proven to be a serious problem within that region. In this regard I would like to sincerely thank the Limpopo region for the work that has been done thus far and it is my prayer that the beginning of 2014 will see UNIVEN as a member of our federation again.
We have been privileged to visit the region of KZN where a very successful regional conference was held and of importance to note was the involvement of the clergy which assisted most significantly on the success of the conference. We also went to the Western Cape region for the gala dinner which lived up to the expectations. The saddest moment of that weekend however was when the ASF and the whole Anglican Church had to bid farewell to Mr John Nongalaza who was so integral to the whole Church and importantly to the ASF. Mr Nongalaza played a pivotal role in the life of CPUT Cape Town An’Soc and to the entire ASF particularly in the previous conference of Kroonstad. We therefore thank Mr Nongalaza for the resources, time and his energy he spared for the benefit of students. (Mr John Nongalaza has since joined the Ethiopian Church for personal reasons).
The region of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the region of Namibia have shown great potential on social development and media issues. When we visited the region of the Kingdom of Lesotho for the fun walk and fundraising, that event was captured by the media and it gave us a bid more of the exposure which will in turn help Lesotho region in so many ways. Namibia region is doing equally good in the media
where they also get airtime on the national radio and they are able to make funds through the project they are currently running.
For a number of years we have been struggling to break through into Mpumalanga. Indeed through the hard work of the PEC and the GP-MP leadership and some very dedicated members of that region, we have been able to break through into Mpumalanga however difficult it was. A steady progress has been made, the leadership of the region and the PEC went to the satellite campus of the Tshwane University of Technology at Emalahleni which has over 2000 registered students and hope is that by the beginning of the academic year of 2014, we will be able to recruit members to join An’Soc. We have also worked continuously to ensure that we create a healthy relationship with the management of the new Nation Institution for Higher Education (NIHE) in Siyabuswa so that by the start of the academic year of 2014, we become one of the first if not the very first religious structure to register on that institution. We have met with the campus director who has given us the opportunity to go to the campus and recruit members during their orientation which is scheduled for the 26th and the 27th of January of 2014. We have sought to advance this vision precisely to ensure that we are represented in every part of our Province (ACSA) and it is our prayer that God also give us the carriage to branch into Northern Cape before the end of this term of office.
Despite the promising outcomes we have seen and even as we ensured consistent results in our activities in most of the regions, we have far greater challenges in ensuring that consistent growth within our federation both spiritually and morally becomes a permanent feature of lives. Numerically also we are faced with enormous challenges in the regions of Free State, North West, Swaziland and Mozambique. We therefore need to work continuously to combat these challenges and continue more so to strengthen and improve the functioning our An’Socs within the regions.
Indeed the hard work that we have done in pursuit of our vision and mission as the federation has had its challenges and I refer particularly in this regard to the strike actions that have hit hard on both the University of Swaziland and the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) earlier this year. Many shall recall that on the 21st August of 2013, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and a host of political and traditional leaders met with the WSU community and students at Mthatha and wrote a memorandum to the state president of South Africa asking him to intervene on the WSU issue. The matter was resolved and classes commenced. On the interim, the decision was taken that for the time lost by the students as a result of a strike, classes would be provided for students during the weekends to cover up the syllabus. Automatically the examinations started late on the 29th November of 2013 and scheduled to end on the 19th December of 2013 of which 20th December the University closes. This catch-up plan will continue until the 17th January 2014 during the issuing of results.
Consistent with our common practice, in about six months’ time from date, we will be hosting our 54th Provincial conference scheduled for the end of June in the region of Namibia as per the resolution of the elective conference of Kroonstad in the Free State. I therefore urge all of you to start making preparations financially and I want to especially make a call to those who are without the travelling documents to start applying to avoid doing things at the last minutes.
Whilst on the provincial conference, it would be very remiss of me if I cannot make a call and cry earnestly to all of us for the change of attitudes towards our conference. There has been a lot of complains pertaining to our conduct and indeed there are pressing issues that we sincerely need to deal with so far as
our conduct in the provincial conference is concerned. It is my prayer that the beginning of 2014 shall bring a new “US” necessarily to ensure that we leave a lasting legacy, a legacy that we shall all be proud of and never to be ashamed of when we have left this immaculate federation.
We are now in the month of December where the world AIDS day is celebrated (1st December). While most of our regions are unable to commemorate this day because of our academic calendars, the fact that we see this day as the federation gives us a rare opportunity to co-operate as Christian’s in addressing this pressing problem. This pandemic is spreading despite the advances made by the world governments to eradicate it. There are positive outcomes though as per statistics by UNAIDS, but this fruits are yet to be fully and equitably shared by the people hence we see the abject HIV coexisting side by side with extra ordinary opulence.
But the public awareness around HIV/AIDS is needed today; not tomorrow. The challenge today, to the youth and adults alike, is to make lifestyle choices which help to combat this epidemic. Therefore this month I would like to bring the message of tolerance and support, as the federation which is part of the Christian community and as individuals, we need to treat friends, relatives and other compatriots who are infected with compassion, this applies more so to orphans and infected children. The campaign for HIV/AIDS is the task for us all – young and old. AIDS knows no custom, it knows no colour and it has no boundaries. We have to work together wherever we are to preserve our federation, our respective countries and humanity as a whole.
We are fast approaching the Christmas holidays, a time for celebrating with our loved ones and sharing with those who do not have. At the same time we all know that Christmas is not only a time for festive cheer, but as noble Christians, we all know what it means to us. During this festive season, I call upon every ASF member to make a humble contribution and land a hand to those individuals and families that are unable to support themselves and to show compassion to children that do not have clothes, something to eat or to give them a simple gift that will bring smiles to their faces. It is through caring for the most vulnerable members of our society that we can save and care for the souls of our countries.
I am fully aware that at this point in time, there are institutions that are engaged in examinations and I want to take this opportunity to wish them all the best and this applies equally to all those who have completed their exams.
Accordingly I want to make a plea for consciousness of road safety; we all know our roads are a lethal weapon especially around this time of the year so I want to appeal to all road users to hid regulations meant for their safety.
Do not drink and drive; arrive alive. Let us practice safe sex and let peace reign in our hearts, care for one another and spread the festive cheers
to those who do not have. On behalf of the PEC, I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.
RETHABILE P MATLATSA
(52ND ASF PRESIDENT)