Winter has arrived with a vengeance. Gone are the clear blue skies and nice sunny days only to be replaced by angry looking dark clouds, strong northwesterly winds and lots of rain. Such will be our lot for the next 5 months. Thankfully we got our winter firewood a while ago so we'll be getting the wood-burner going soon.

Joel has been very excited over the last few days as one of his teeth became very wobbly and eventually fell out on Tuesday evening just in time for the tooth fairy to come. Thankfully Joel had been prepared by Charlie & Lola so he knew what to expect.

The winter weather makes visiting friends in Chris Nissen and Macassar a bit less pleasurable. Mainly because the Chris Nissen houses are like fridges in winter with their bare asbestos roofing sheets. Driving to Macassar along the N2 in the pouring rain is horrific as the usual poor standard of driving is compounded by the weather. Sadly most south African's seem to think that speed is the answer to all traffic problems. Things are moving slowly in Macassar but we're encouraged by the relationships we're building. Dean has been going in and mapping where each of our church members live and plans to use this as a basis for our outreach into the community. Paula has been enjoying visiting some women during the mornings as well as getting to know a few rather better in her church Friendship Group. She is planning to keep up the visiting and start to look more in depth at what we could do with those who are available. We do feel like it's being back at the starting point of our time with Chris Nissen when we knew three women from church who lived in the community. It took a couple of years to build any meaningful relationships in CNP but our persistence was well rewarded. Hopefully things will be a bit easier in Macassar as we already know more quality people there. Paula is also keeping very busy with the HOPE home based care team in CNP. As usual at this time of the year she arrived last Friday for visiting to find 5 people were either in hospital or at the hospice. This is sad, but at least, in the case of the hospice patient, they are in better conditions for a week or two. Please pray for our patients as they struggle with chronic arthritis, strokes, HIV and its related illnesses and TB. Pray also for the carers as their work really is a labour of love.

Michael & Joyce continually amaze and surprise me with their level of care and love for those in need around them. Today a strange man (definitely not playing with a full deck) was wandering around Chris Nissen and had been chased out of a few houses by angry residents. Eventually he ended up in Michael's partially constructed lean-to at the back of his house, so Joyce took him a cup of tea. As the weather worsened they took him into their home and let him sleep on their couch. Michael tried to talk to the guy and after a long time found out his name was Abdullah but he couldn't get any further so he called the police who gently took the man away. Michael had made clear that he was not lodging any complaint or charge against him but was merely concerned that the man returns to his home, wherever that may be. The police were really good and treated him with real respect. It really warms my heart to see how caring my friends are!

And The Winner Is..

Was this a foregone conclusion or not? It was argued that for the first time in South Africa's democratic history there was finally a solid opposition to the ruling ANC. Sadly such optimism was unfounded as COPE slumped to a miserable 7.42% of the national vote whilst the DA were confirmed as the main opposition party with 16.66%. However the ANC romped to a resounding victory with 65.9%. Whilst this is short of the two thirds majority needed to change the constitution they will still have a suitable majority to do as they wish in parliament. Anyway, the ANC co-wrote the constitution so why would they need to change it?

What will be interesting to see is how Zuma fares as president. He's promised a huge amount and is very popular especially amongst the Black majority who also tend to be the poorest in SA society. He's a real people person unlike Mbeki and strong feelings seem to follow him. One thing is for sure, Zuma now has his work cut out for him as the economy is in decline and people want houses yesterday.

One of the most interesting things to watch will be South Africa's 'new' relationship with Zimbabwe. Zuma has made plain his dislike of the Desperate Despot (mugabe) and more recently his family has become inextricably linked to the opposition in Zim' through marriage. Gugulethu, one of Zuma's daughters married Wesley Ncube son of Welshman Ncube of the Mutambara faction of the MDC. Surely the Desperate Despot must be a little concerned by this turn of events.

Credit must go to the Independent Electoral Commission for running a very smooth and impartial election. Many western nations should take notes! Also, the day of voting was declared a public holiday which enabled people to get to the polling stations, consequently turnout was high. Again, other nations could learn from this.

Full results can be seen here.

Election Day

As the govt in the UK unveil another budget the people of South Africa have even bigger issues to decide as they go to the polls in the presidential elections.

This election has been billed as the biggest and most important since the end of apartheid and not without reason. Firstly, there is now a credible national opposition party1 in the form of the COPE (congress of the people) which is made up of disaffected ANC party members. Secondly, the most likely winner and therefore next president of the republic is Jacob Zuma or JZ as he's known. Zuma has been dogged by allegations of corruption for a few years now and just a week or so before the polls opened he finally succeeded in having the charges thrown out. However the whiff of corruption seems to be lingering. Zuma also quite famously declared during his rape trial that he couldn't get AIDS from the alleged victim who was HIV+ as he'd had a shower immediately after having unprotected sex with her. That from a man who was once in charge of the national HIV strategy.

One thing is certain in thee elections, apathy has not won the day. In fact, from what we've observed the turnouts are massive and people are keen to express their views. The photo above shows one of many long queues of people waiting to cast their votes. What will be interesting is to see whether the high turnout works in favour of the govt or the opposition.

More photos can be seen on the BBC News website:
In pictures: South Africa votes
Your pictures: South Africa at the polls

1The DA (Democratic Alliance) have been the main opposition for some years now but they’re main powerbase is here in the Western Cape. Outside of the Cape they’re not much of a force and they are largely perceived as the party of whites and coloureds. This is unfair but perceptions are what they are. Zuma is perceived as being corrupt.

Alive & Kicking

Proof that we are still alive!

It's been a while since we last posted anything, but to be honest blogging isn't always the first thing that comes to mind. Also, sometimes it's simply better not to say anything rather than say something and get into trouble. We've been having a few struggles with our mission organisation over several months and we're not overly happy with how we've been treated or how things are at present. This has clouded much of our thought and left us in a fairly negative state. Hence the silence on the blog.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.

I'll probably get into trouble for writing this!