The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has joined with other civil society organizations across the country to call for the resignation of South African President Jacob Zuma. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes the bold and prophetic witness of South African church leaders and encourages Presbyterians to pray fervently for peace, public accountability, and good governance in South Africa and around the world.
President Zuma’s administration has been beset by scandal, even before he took office in 2009. A series of reports from South Africa’s Public Protector have been critical of matters such as the president’s use of public funds to upgrade his personal home and estate, and his close (and possibly corrupt) association with certain business magnates.
The SACC has become increasingly outspoken in calling for the exposure of corruption and the removal of corrupt officials. In December 2015, the council launched a campaign called “The South Africa We Pray4” to pray and act for healing and reconciliation, the end of poverty and inequality, and the restoration of good governance and healthy family life. As part of this effort, the churches established a panel of eminent persons, known as the “Unburdening Panel,” and invited people to share their experiences of corruption and coercion in public and private life.
Releasing the panel’s report earlier this year, SACC General Secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said that the South African government had lost “the moral radar” and was “inches away from a mafia state from which there could be no return.”
Opposition parties in the Parliament of the Republic of South African have demanded a vote of confidence in the government. A vote scheduled earlier this year was postponed when the Constitutional Court was asked to rule on whether or not the speaker could call for a secret ballot on the question. The court ruled that she could, but left the decision up to her. The vote has been rescheduled for Tuesday, August 8, but whether by open or secret ballot remains unclear.
The SACC has joined a broad coalition of civil society organizations, Unite Behind, in calling for a march on parliament on Monday, August 7th, to demand that the president step down. Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, SACC President and Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, has recorded a message urging Christians to “persuade our public representatives to do the right thing and save South Africa from the situation in which we find ourselves.”
Please pray for peace, wise and prophetic church leadership, democratic participation, public accountability, good governance, and faithful stewardship of public resources in South Africa and around the world.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)