Methodist reverend Vukile Charles Mehana is in hot water after he was recorded being sexist in a private conversation.
Bishop Zipho Siwa has released a statement stating that the church would like to distance itself from his utterances, which presented a “dismissive, humiliating and degrading” caricature of women.
Siwa went on to say that an investigation would be launched, and the results would be communicated once it was done.
According to SABC News, the church had noted that Mehana had apologised in social media.
Mehana is one of the more politically connected preachers in South Africa.
In 2011, when Jacob Zuma said that a vote for the ANC was a vote for heaven, Mehana was the ANC’s chaplain general.
Thus it fell to him to try and explain the words of the president as being metaphorical.
He is also the chairman of the board at African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) – which used to be Sekunjalo Investments Limited.
When its parent company, Sekunjalo, went private AEEI took its place on the JSE. It runs Sekunjalo’s non-media publicly traded companies.
He is also the chair of UKZN’s governing council.
I am not a fan of leaking people’s private communications when there is nothing criminal being discussed.
I think a pastor reading somebody’s private messages to their boyfriend is creepy for example.
So, to a some extent at first I looked at this and I thought – its a private conversation and how far are we really willing to push demands for never expressing a bad thought?
But then I realised something.
Mehana is personally a nexus of multiple forms of authority – he’s a political player within the ANC, a religious player within the Methodist church, a player in the business arena, and a player within academia.
What he thinks matters.
And his role is that of the moralist, so this panel from SMBC came to mind.
I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in any gods. I hold to the hypothesis that are no gods.
But I think with any morality, and idea of how other people should behave, it is important to behave that way yourself. You’ve got to model what you think is the right way of doing things.
So when someone who claims to speak for some sort of higher morality, which is one of the roles god has in religious thought, they’d better model that morality.
I’m still uncomfortable with people leaking private communications, I think none of us can manage to always be at our most enlightened, but I can’t say as I have much sympathy with Mehana in this case.