Letters to the editor: May 13 to 19 2016

Open: The vestments of the masonic organisation in Reims, France. The freemasons, like any other institution, has its private matters, but it is not a secret society. (Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty)

Open: The vestments of the masonic organisation in Reims, France. The freemasons, like any other institution, has its private matters, but it is not a secret society. (Francois Nascimbeni/AFP/Getty)

M&G maligns freemasons

  I was astonished to read the editorial Transparency and secrets don’t mix about freemasons and the Democratic Alliance’s list of candidates in the local government poll in Tshwane.

  On the possible abuse of position by members, one has to laud the Mail & Guardian for bringing it to light. Freemasons are sworn to uphold the law of the land in which they reside (even as a visitor), and the violation mentioned, though perhaps not illegal, is certainly highly immoral. Such persons would be considered “void of all moral worth and totally unfit to belong to a society that places honour and dignity above the mere advantages of rank and fortune”, as newly elected freemasons are told on their admission to the order.

Other remarks in the piece smack of populism, for example the statement that “the society operates in secret”. Is that notion fuelled by the sensationalist media? Would I or any other person not on your staff be allowed into your directors’ meeting, or any business meeting for that matter, or even those of a church, commercial or industrial company? Every organisation has its private, or, if you wish, “secret” issues. Freemasonry has its secrets, but is certainly not a secret society.

Look at the openness of their venues. In the Pretoria Masonic centre, where 24 different lodges hold their meetings, the lodges are open for all to see. These meetings are those of the English, Dutch, Irish, Afrikaners, British, French and other constitutions of the freemasons.

Twice a year, many Masonic jurisdictions hold a ceremony in honour of St John the Baptist, one of their patrons, called St John in Summer and St John in Winter, to which the public is invited. When last did any media house invite the public to one of its operational meetings? 

Other statements in the piece are more directly slanderous, such as the claim that masons “swear an oath of loyalty to other brothers”. There is no evidence in any masonic ritual of such an oath.

“The DA’s late chief whip was the grand master of the freemasons in South Africa,” said the story – also misleading. All the masons’ different constitutions are independent, and South Africans can belong to any of the abovementioned constitutions. There is no head of the freemasons in South Africa, and no overarching central command structure.

  Among the complaints, writes the M&G, was that members of a lodge called each other “brothers”. This is an inexplicable complaint. Who objects? In many churches, members of the congregation are called “brothers” or “sisters”.

  The statement that “some party members are concerned that limits on female membership would be unconstitutional” is equally difficult to understand. Entry to the brotherhood, in which women are addressed either as “brother” or “sister”, has always been strictly on invitation. No female order or mixed (“co-masonic”) order would exclude anyone on the basis of race, colour, sex or religion. Invitations are restricted to morally sound and upright persons who can help build a better society – hence the propensity of masons to be involved in civic affairs. – Brother James

Zuma, take a page from Khan’s book

Last week, London (UK) elected a new mayor. The election of Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, is a milestone in a country that is supposedly one of the bastions of Christianity.

What should be of interest to us South Africans is that, upon his appointment as mayor, Khan announced he would be giving up his role as an MP. Why? Because, in his words, he will have to work with, and for, every member of his community, irrespective of their political beliefs. For Khan, responsibility comes before party.

Khan now controls the destiny of 8.5-million people (about 17% of the population of South Africa) and the purse strings to a budget of £17-billion (about R340-billion).

In South Africa, by contrast, we have at the top a man who believes that not only is he above the law but also that the Constitution is there to be misappropriated to his own ends. To add insult to injury, the party he leads puts cronies before the party faithful.

So, we have a situation in which a party that claims to be there for the poor is controlled by a few who do nothing but line their pockets at the expense of the poor. Those who have this power are not about to give it up, so we have a controlling cabal of ageing faithfuls. 

I feel very sorry for those struggle stalwarts who gave their lives for the freedom of this country, those who believed that all should be treated equally by the law, that no one is above the law.

Khan, by comparison, is a born-and-bred socialist who puts his constituents first. He gave up being an MP so that he could be more neutral and work with all parties – something none of our mayors would do. He lives in an ordinary suburban house and he goes to work as mayor on a public bus, which none of our public figures would dream of doing.

  It is time that our politicians remember that they were voted into power, and that one day the people who voted them in may just vote them out. Hopefully, for our country, that day will be soon. – Terry Duff

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