SMMS Chairperson and Vice Chancellor designate of the Vaal University of Technology, Prof Gordon Zide, has made a passionate plea for SMMS graduands to respond to ‘a knock at midnight.’

Prof Zide was addressing SMMS graduands during the sixth graduation service, on 13 May.

“As Ministers, freshly baked in pots of ethics and morality, you have a challenge of responding to ‘a knock at midnight’.  Otherwise all the years you have spent toiling at the SMMS would come to nothing if you fail to respond to this call,” Prof Zide said.

He reminded graduands of the context of a myriad ‘midnight challenges’ in which they are going to do their ministry.

“You are graduating at a time when the political winds of change are blowing all over South Africa as ‘Things Fall Apart’. You are graduating at a time when ‘Our Iceberg is Melting’. You are graduating at a time when South Africa is on a downward spiral as politicians are too sparing on truth, honesty, moral efficacy and justice. You are graduating at a time when the three socio-economic challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality have been identified as evils which wreck families for the past two-decades but nothing has been done to address them, except for empty promises made, year in and year out. You are graduating at a time when police brutality is synonymous with the apartheid tactics and whenever cases are reported the response is always ‘The matter will be investigated’ and there is no feedback.

“You are graduating at a time when our country has been captured and at a time when corruption, injustice, tenderpreneurship, perfidious procurement processes are followed to benefit only a few that are politically well connected. You are graduating at a time when our people are thirsty for service delivery and not for the empty and unfulfilled promises. You are graduating at a time when Parliament has lost its dignity, respect and moral efficacy and has become a circus and our children are asking a probing question: ‘Is this the kind of democracy, freedom and liberation you fought for?”

He added that this journey of responding to a knock at midnight requires people of stature and integrity and people who do not get into bed with sin; people who are able to stand up straight in an upside-down environment.

Prof Zide also urged the graduands to raise their voice when there is a real threat to the Constitution and the rule of law.

“You cannot and should not keep quiet when there is a deliberate neglect of the Rule of Law. The Constitution seems not to be worth the paper it is written on as some people, and may I boldly say, some politicians who have been elected by us, arrogantly disregard the constitution and do as they wish, hence the then Public Protector was always discovering rattling skeletons in the cupboard and rocking the boat, as it were.  She became the conscience of the country. And this is the space which you, the ministers, have to occupy – if you are to be the conscience of the nation,” he said.

In a world where a one-sided gospel that does not reflect the realities of life is being preached in too many places, Prof Zide encouraged the graduands to preach the cost of discipleship.

He said, “Christians need to understand that Christianity does not mean that all will go well every day. It also means that, at times, believers will have to go through fire and water.  Christians do not always experience success and prosperity, nor are they always winners. At times, they experience suffering, loneliness, failure, pain, rejection and much chastisement.”

Prof Zide ended by urging the graduands not to despair on their journey to respond to a knock at midnight.

“You are going out there to respond to a knock at midnight and the powers-that-be will describe and define you derogatorily as ‘clever people’ but do not despair when they call you names because you will be taking after your master anyway,” he said.