Bishops in South Africa Acclaim Citizens for Recent Local Elections: Statement
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || Archbishop William Slattery || 22 August 2016
People of South Africa can take credit for the recent local elections which all agree were free and fair. Democracy itself was the victor. The Independent Electoral Commission must be congratulated in making it possible for all citizens to participate in a great common one-nation exercise of creating our future. We wish to acknowledge and express gratitude to our Justice and Peace commission and the many observers from our church who patriotically served the nation. We give thanks to God for the growing maturity of our democracy and we praise all political parties who have accepted the outcome.
This peaceful elections auger well for the future stability of our political system. The election result may herald in a new phase in the history of our democracy involving coalition government, realistic opposition politics and greater responsibility in the exercise of power. Coalitions can be enrichment in that they bring together the fruits of many minds when exercised with equality and reciprocity. Wrongly pursued coalitions can lead to endless wrangling, polarisation and collapse of governance.
We plead with the sixty one thousand elected officials to avoid seeking personal enrichment and making cheap political points; rather let them keep before their minds the serious challenges facing our communities. We plead with them to seek relationships of trust, to give supreme importance to the value of dialogue and to seek to build social capital. We remind Catholics who have been elected to office in the various parties to see this work as a vocation and a mission.
We come out of an intense period of electioneering. We appeal to the various political parties to avoid a winner-take-all mentality. Our country faces huge problems of social trauma; unemployment, inequality, racism, violence, drugs abuse and family breakdown. Our elected officials must make local needs their priority and patiently leave national concerns to the central government. The quality of life of nation is measure by the care given to the poor, to children the aged and all the marginalised. All who live in our land must be protected and respected.
In this election our people have spoken, they demand change; they expect service and are tired of corruption, maladministration and being ignored. God will be with us if we create a future based on respect for human dignity. Let this election be a moment of new beginning.
Jeremiah 29:7, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried…… Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”