Religious leaders 'deeply disturbed' by corruption, service delivery failures

While government has made progress in providing resources to the poor and "asserting constitutional democracy", religious leaders have expressed concern about the high levels of corruption, service delivery failures and land issues that plague the country.

The group of 24 religious leaders includes Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, representatives from the South African Council of Churches, the Muslim Judicial Council and the Roman Catholic Church. The leaders met under the banner of the National Church Leaders' Consultation (NCLC) this week for their annual meeting.

In a statement, the leaders said they were "deeply disturbed" by corruption, the weakening of state institutions, the mismanagement of state-owned enterprises and "increasing evidence of the plundering of public resources as so far revealed in the commissions and reports addressing [state] capture".

They said the recent protests in Westbury, Johannesburg, as well as protests all over the country, were evidence of service delivery failure at municipal level. They said the coloured community's feeling of exclusion and marginalisation and the political attacks on the Indian community "undermine the quest for nation-building".

They have appointed a task team to conduct research into the land question, and say they are "committed to playing a vital role as churches in addressing the issue of land reform and redistribution".

'Agents of hope, healing, peace, unity and reconciliation'

The group said churches and faith leaders were "called to be agents of hope, healing, peace, unity and reconciliation". The group committed to "speak truth to the church and to power; reclaim the prophetic voice of the church; work against racism and xenophobia in our public discourse, and act against violence and the exploitation of women in church and society".

"Church leaders are mindful that the matters raised above are not only relevant to South Africa, but to the broader SADC (Southern African Development Community) region and even globally," they said.

"We call on all church leaders to exercise their pastoral and prophetic ministry in addressing the challenges we identify and encounter."

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