SID Academics, Church Members Write Open Letter to Ted Wilson

SID Academics, Church Members Write Open Letter to Ted Wilson

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Written by: 
Published:
May 23, 2016

Statement from Concerned Academics in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists

The Academic Qualifications of Pastors Paul Charles and Paul Ratsara
23 May 2016

Dr. Ted N.C. Wilson
President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church 12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring Maryland 20904
United States of America

CC:
GC Executive-Secretary (Dr. GT Ng)
GC Associate Secretary (Pastor H Mooroven)
GC Education Director (Dr. Lisa M. Beardsley-Hardy)
SID President (Dr. Paul Ratsara)
SID Executive Secretary (Dr. Solomon Maphosa)
SID Education Director (Dr. Ellah Kamwendo)

As members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church working in the academic field, we, the undersigned, have been following two issues concerning the academic qualifications of some of our leaders at the SID.

The first is that of Pastor Paul Charles (Director of Communication, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty at SID). Given what has been reported in the South African public media (The New Age Newspapers of 14 and 26 April 2016) as well as in Spectrum Magazine, it has become an issue of great concern to us given that the matter fundamentally relates to the question of personal integrity and academic qualifications.

Over the years there have been many reports in South Africa of individuals who make false claims about having acquired or are in possession of doctoral degrees. Some of the more high profile cases already in the public domain include that of Johnny Molefe (who was once Principal of the Tshwane University of Technology), Mohau Peko (an ambassador of the South African government), Pallo Jordan (a top level ANC politician), Carl Niehaus (once a South African ambassador) and Daniel Mthimkulu (who was then the Chief Engineer at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa). The exposure of all the afore-mentioned individuals’ fraudulent claims about their academic qualifications was met with huge public and all-round condemnation by different sectors of South African society.

We are firmly convinced that fraudulent claims of being in possession of an academic qualification are not just about the claimant not having the right competencies to perform a given task. We believe that they are fundamentally about character, personal integrity and trustworthiness. Even if one could indeed perform the tasks assigned to them, the mere fact that they made a fraudulent claim automatically renders them ineligible to serve. This is even more so in the church of God where the character and integrity of the person constitute the basic requirements to serve.

We are aware of the attempts by the church structures to deal with this issue but are concerned about the apparent delay in resolving the matter which is now in the public domain. This matter is being followed with great concern by the generality of the church membership, not just in the SID territory but also world-wide. The longer this matter remains unresolved the more damage it does not only to the name, cause and leadership of the church but also to the name of God, which the church incidentally is meant to jealously guard and protect.

The second matter of concern relates to the questions that have recently been raised about the doctoral work of Dr. Paul Ratsara (SID President). Although there isn’t much detail in the public domain, there is enough talk within the church, linking the matter of Pastor Charles to the doctoral dissertation of Dr. Ratsara.

There is speculation that the reason the SID President is reluctant to act decisively on the matter of Pastor Paul Charles is because there might be questions about the originality of Dr. Ratsara's own PhD work.

Although Dr. Ratsara graduated from UNISA in 2014 there are some who speculate that significant portions of his thesis might have been taken from the work done by the SID Study Committee (BRC), which was chaired by Dr. Ratsara himself, or even compiled by other members of that committee. The SID church community was not privy to the actual work of the SID BRC and the final report was never shared with the rest of the church membership or made public.

What seems to lend credence to all these suspicions is that there have been reports that the PhD thesis of Dr. Ratsara cannot be found in the UNISA library and is not available online (as is common practice with every higher degree thesis).This has fuelled the speculation and concern that the matter of Paul Charles might be linked to the doctoral work of Dr Ratsara.

We would like to reiterate that both the Bible and church policy are very clear on these matters in respect of conduct that casts a shadow on the integrity of the ministry as well as on conduct that is inconsistent with the high standards of our Christian calling. We should therefore, as a church, not create an impression that we are in violation of these high standards.

It is in light of the above that we recommend and appeal for the following steps to be taken:

1. The church leadership at SID and GC resolves the matter of Pastor Paul Charles as a matter of urgency by taking steps and making decisions that clearly show that we (as a faith community) do not condone the fraudulent claims with respect to academic qualifications.

2. Pastor Paul Charles should not serve in any church leadership position given the fact that his image and character have been severely tainted and compromised in this matter. He is no longer suitable to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church in any official capacity.

3. The questions surrounding the doctoral work of Dr. Ratsara be thoroughly investigated and the University of South Africa (UNISA) be engaged to determine if indeed the work is his (as required by the academic process) or the work of a church committee or other individuals which was then passed on as the work of the doctoral candidate in question.

We would like to make it clear that the intention of this appeal is to ensure that the image of the church and its mission be protected to the honour and glory of God.

We hope and pray that God guides and leads His church as we deal with these matters.

Dr. Willie Chinyamurindi
Senior Lecturer: Department of Business Management
University of Fort Hare
South Africa

A/Prof. Edward Chamisa
Department of Finance and Tax
University of Cape Town

Mr. Clinton Plaatjes
Executive IT Country Manager

Mr. Pitso Tsibolane
Lecturer: Department of Information Systems
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Dr. Bernhard Ficker (Retired Academic)
Somerset West, South Africa

Prof. Mziwoxolo Sirayi
Executive Dean: Faculty of the Arts
Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria, South Africa

A/Prof. Dr. John Akokpari
Department of Political Studies
University of Cape Town, South Africa

Mr. Wandile Bangisi
Pastoral Counsellor, Pretoria

Prof. Modimowabarwa Kanyane
Department: Democracy, Governance, Service Delivery
Human Sciences Research Council of SA Pretoria, South Africa

Mr. Zolani Simayi
Lecturer: Department of Precilinical Studies
University of Limpopo, South Africa

Dr. Misheck Ndebele
School of Education
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dr. Jeff Crocombe
Acting Dean: School of Theology
Pacific Adventist University
Papua New Guinea
(Lecturer: Helderberg College, South Africa) 2006 - 2011

Dr. Alvin Masarira, PrEng
Structural Engineering Consultant
Structural SIMTech Consulting (PTY) LTD Johannesburg, South Africa

Mr. Bongani Khonjwayo
Researcher and HR Policy Development Specialist
Durban, South Africa

Dr. Ron du Preez
Retired & Part-Time Pastor-Arizona Conference, NAD & Adjunct /Online Professor:
Adventist University of Africa (Kenya)
Andrews University (Mich., USA)
Southern Adventist University (Tenn., USA)

Dr. Fusi Madela
Specialist General Surgeon
Albert Luthuli Academic Hospital Durban, South Africa

 

Statements From SID Academics on Leaders' Qualifications 23 May 2016

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