Media Statement by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI,
President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC).
"Politics and politicians are meant to serve the wider interests of the whole community.
There is no doubt that rivalry and discord in the governing party have hindered its ability to serve the whole community in recent months. It is now time for the new leaders to focus on the urgent needs and demands of our people, especially the poor.
No matter what people may feel about the changes that have taken place in our country’s political leadership and about the various personalities involved, the fact that such changes are possible is a very positive reflection of the growth of a democratic culture. In particular, we commend President Mbeki for the dignified and statesmanlike manner in which he has acceded to the wishes of the majority in his party’s leadership.
When the time comes for the new leadership of the ANC, whoever they may be, to step aside, we trust that they will do so with the same humility and accountability that President Mbeki has shown.
We welcome indications that mature leaders are exerting a calming influence on some of their more impetuous colleagues. Threats or predictions of violence, insulting personal attacks, and the use of intemperate language, cannot serve the national interest.
Similarly, those in the governing party who have seen fit to manipulate or undermine the Courts, the Constitution, and the independent organs of State, such as the National Prosecuting Authority, must realize that they are attacking the very fabric of our young democracy.
We urge our new political office-bearers to work towards re-building confidence in the leadership of our country, by going beyond the divisions that have become evident over the last months. A new unity must be established, and to achieve this there must be no ‘witch-hunts’ and settling of scores.
Corruption, nepotism, and self-advancement have no place in a democracy; we hope and trust that government will demonstrate a renewed commitment to eradicate these evils, which have seriously diverted us from our national struggle to build a better life for our people. To this end, we add our voice to the calls for a judicial commission of enquiry into all aspects of the arms deal, which has rightly been described as a ‘cancer’ eating away at our society.
The people of South Africa should not be unduly worried about these developments, even though change of any kind is often unsettling. The general election that will be held less than a year from now will allow us all the opportunity of expressing our approval or disapproval of these changes. It is the duty of every citizen to think carefully about the political situation and to vote in a way that promotes the common good of all.
Finally, we wish President Mbeki well and assure him that his many achievements, especially in placing the concerns and hopes of our continent firmly on the world’s agenda, will not be forgotten."
Issued on behalf of Archbishop Buti Tlhagale OMI, President of the SACBC, by Fr Chris Townsend, Information Officer of the SACBC. For more information or Media enquiries, Please contact Fr Chris Townsend