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Dealing with corruption in South African civil society: Orientating Christian communities for their role in a post-apartheid context

Friedrich W. de Wet

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1388

Submitted: 29 September 2014
Published:  28 May 2015

Abstract

The way in which the full spectrum of Christian communities are challenged to realign themselves in addressing the impact of corruption on the contemporary South-African society can be a relevant indicator of civil society’s state and functionality in a post-apartheid democratic context. Utilising the interpretative and normative tools of practical-theological research, the researcher attempts to point out markers for Christian communities towards orientating themselves regarding their role in a complex landscape and in an asymmetrically shaped public sphere. The discussion includes an analysis of the current shape of civil society, an interpretation of the complex landscape of perceptions regarding corruption and an overview of the dilemmas faced by some of the major Christian church traditions in the post-apartheid South African context concerning their truthful presence in civil society. The discussion concludes by making a case for the need to anchor the realignment of the prophetic voice and the revitalisation of the transformative presence in a profound and far-reaching theological reorientation. Tension fields that involve critical and constructive action in a situation of endemic corruption cannot be negotiated without ridding the own presence from potential corruptive elements like hidden exclusivity, half-hearted concern and compromise.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Making use of the interdisciplinary results of social sciences and civil-society studies, the author provides an overview for Christian communities and their leaders in theologically orientating themselves for an appropriate angle of approach in entering the public sphere with a view on authentic and impactful participation in anti-corruption dialogue and actions. The key finding of the research amounts to the following: Tension fields that involve critical and constructive action in a situation of endemic corruption cannot be negotiated without ridding the own presence from potential corruptive elements like hidden exclusivity, half-hearted concern and compromise.


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Author affiliations

Friedrich W. de Wet, Unit for Reformed Theology and the Development of the South African Society, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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