Government fails to respond to anti-corruption memorandum

Summary:

  • Government ignored the deadline to respond to Unite Against Corruption (UAC) memorandum
  • UAC demands that leaders make an unambiguous pledge to root out corruption, and be open to public scrutiny and accountability
  • Citizens are aware of the scale of corruption and will mobilise to hold leaders accountable
  • Door remains open if government and business want to engage on specific anti-corruption targets

Government has failed to respond to a memorandum of demands submitted to it during nationwide protest marches by the Unite Against Corruption (UAC) coalition, in spite of a personal commitment by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe to come up with a detailed reply.

UAC leaders today said they interpreted this non-response as either a denial of the seriousness of corruption, an absence of leadership or extreme arrogance.  However, the coalition said it was still prepared to engage, should government want to commit to specific targets against corruption.

During the marches on September 30 and October 14, the coalition of more than 300 trade unions, civil society and faith groups gave government and business two months to respond to its demands. The Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry submitted its reply on October 19. Government has not responded at all.

During the past week, the UAC wrote to Radebe requesting a response before 9 December, so it could be published as part of International Anti-Corruption Day activities on December 9. According to Mr Zwelinzima Vavi, veteran trade unionist, former General Secretary of Cosatu and one of the UAC leaders, the coalition had received nothing – “no calls, no meetings, nothing.”

He is leading a march against corruption tomorrow (December 9) in Johannesburg with former Midrand workers.

No evidence of a turning tide

“There is no evidence that we are moving in the right direction,” Vavi said.

“We therefore plan to unite society around the issues that are being ignored. Leaders can expect to be held accountable to specific targets in 2016. Agency is moving back to ordinary people, who are refusing to pay bribes but demand services instead. We need more of these ordinary people around,” Vavi said.

Rev. Moss Ntlha, Secretary General of The Evangelical Alliance of Southern Africa (TEASA) said that, after the protest marches, “the ANC said all the right things, but there were no specific promises. And the promise they did make – namely to respond – was not kept. Next year, specifically around the 2016 local government elections, we will demand specific commitments and mobilise the public to keep leaders accountable.

“Government is methodically and systematically destroying public confidence, faith and hope. It is failing the leadership test.”

Ntlha called on government to restore hope by displaying good leadership.

“We believe things can still be turned around. We are all for building accountability and trust. We can tear each other apart or we can work together to re-build what has been broken.”

Business response insubstantial

In a 1-page response Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chairperson Janine Myburgh called corruption a “cancer in our society (that) aggravates the unemployment situation.” She said allegations that business is equally involved in corruption, were “disturbing.” The letter then calls for transparency but without committing to specifics.

Mr Mark Heywood, Director of Section 27, described the business response as “welcome, but inadequate and insubstantial,” as it mostly points to government as the source of corruption.

NUMSA’s Head of Education and United Front member Mr Dinga Sikwebu said there is a growing understanding amongst the public that corruption is not limited to the public sphere.

“Our members appreciate that corruption is linked to job losses; that corruption is not just a bribe you pay to the police.”

A government out of touch

Mr Stephen Faulkner, interim convenor of the Nine Plus Unions, said Radebe missed a golden opportunity to engage with one of the largest coalitions of civil society in many years, and to show its identification with the concerns of ordinary South Africans.

“He has also missed his turn to put on record what government is actually prepared to do about corruption – especially in the light of the wastefulness highlighted in the latest Auditor General’s report. Corruption is resulting in poor people being denied even basic service delivery.”

The recent Global Corruption Barometer published by Transparency International, the Africa Survey 2015, found that 83% of South Africans believed corruption was increasing. This was 25% higher than that of 28 other surveyed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Also, 79% of South Africans felt government was performing poorly in its efforts to combat corruption.

Citing these figures, Mr David Lewis, Director of Corruption Watch, said “the public is obviously not out of touch with the seriousness of corruption.” He warned that unless government and business started acting against corruption, increasing distrust in formal democratic processes and key private sector institutions could be expected.

“This does not portend well for stability, economic growth or social cohesion. All of these are threatened by government’s non-responsiveness. People are becoming increasingly likely to make their voices heard by reporting corruption or by public demonstrations.”

A call for activism

Ms Oya Hazel Gumede, Director at public sector legal advisory company Ashira Legal Advisors said the messages from government and business can only be interpreted as an abdication of responsibility.

“However, this is merely the outcome of the lack of a sufficiently strong and concerted effort by the citizenry. Government and business can only abdicate their responsibility if the citizens themselves have not taken their responsibility of effectively exercising their power to hold the leadership accountable as seriously as they can and should.”

To stay informed and become part of the broader Church movement engaging our nation, please add your details by clicking on this link

A letter from Rev Moss Nthla

#feesmustfall

The students of South Africa have won a formidable victory in ensuring there will be no fee increases for next year.

he greatest victory however, is that they have demonstrated to all South Africans that through disciplined, sacrificial and dedicated civil action it is possible for all South Africans to shape the nation.

This is a small victory for civil action, but the challenges of education for all, poverty and inequality are still very present and urgent.

As Church leaders we yesterday (22 October) lamented that we had not listened to our students and young people; and we committed ourselves to fostering courageous spaces where South Africans are able to listen to one another and to the voice of God.

If we are going to build a just and prosperous nation together, all South Africans must redouble our efforts to create these opportunities to courageously listen and act together across sectors, generations, race and geography.

The work for justice in South Africa is only just beginning and as Church we need to be a crucial part of this journey.

If you support the church leaders statement from yesterday you can now add your name to it and become part of the broader church movement engaging our nation. Click here.


Moss Nthla
Chairman of the South African Christian Leaders Initiative

National Church Leaders’ Consultation

Statement on the student fee crisis:

National church leaders gathering in Johannesburg from 21-22 October 2015 on OR Tambo, for the annual National Church Leaders’ Consultation (NCLC), issued the following special statement on the student fee crisis.

We the Church leaders of South Africa lament the student fee crisis engulfing the country. We declare this a national crisis.

We lament that we have not discerned the signs of the times. We have failed our students and not heard their voices.

We lament and strongly condemn the unnecessary use of violence and police brutality against our students and children. We call for the immediate release of all detained under these circumstances.

We further lament the exclusion of the poor from our spaces of higher education because of unaffordability. We recognize that the majority of these students are black and this entrenches inequality in our nation and denies educational opportunity. Our sacred texts call us to identify with the poor and marginalised. The church and faith leaders therefore have an obligation to stand in solidarity with the students on campuses around the nation.

Consequently church and faith leaders have resolved today to visit the WITS campus to symbolically express our solidarity. We are committing ourselves to creating courageous spaces where South Africans are able to listen to one another and to the voice of God.

We call on university authorities and government to join us in listening to students and avoiding violent behaviour that shuts down dialogue. Only through deep dialogue, listening and courageous action will we be able to find lasting long-term solutions.

We especially call on the government to provide adequate resources to redress the evils of the past and to allow the poor to access tertiary education. We further call on the minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande, and the President of the Republic of South Africa to undertake immediate and appropriate measures to address the situation more than they have currently displayed.

As Church and faith leaders we commit to engage and journey with all concerned with these issues and we will call on other church and faith leaders to do the same at campuses across the country.

We also assure university executives of our prayers at this time of crisis.Participants:

1. Archbishop Dr. Thabo Makgoba – Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Chairperson of the NCLC
2. Archbishop Dr. Zandisile Magxwalisa – Jerusalem Church in South Africa
3. Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo – Roman Catholic Church
4. Rev. Mukondeleli Ramulondi – Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
5. The Most Revd Bishop Lunga ka Siboto – Ethiopian Episcopal Church
6. Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa – Methodist Church of Southern Africa / SACC
7. Bishop Nkosekhaya Dikana – Word of Life
8. Bishop Sonwabo Dlula – Reformed Apostolic Mission of South Africa 
9. Prof. Jerry Pillay – World Communion of Reformed Churches
10. Bishop Melumzi Norhushu – Ebenezer Christian Church
11. Dr. Emmanuel Tshilenga – International Church of Pretoria
12. Prof Mary-Anne Plaatjies Van Huffel – Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa 
13. Dr. David Phaladi Tswaedi – Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa
14. Dr. Abraham Hanekom – Commission For Witness
15. Dr. Kobus Gerber – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
16. Rev. Lulama Sibeko – Reformed Apostolic Mission of South Africa 
17. Rev. Garrett Möller – Volkskerk van Afrika
18. Dr. Frank Chikane – AFM International / SACC
19. Dr. Renier Koegelenberg – NRASD
20. Dr. Welile Mazamisa – NRASD
21. Rev. Lungile Mpetsheni – Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
22. Rev. Bonisile Moses Ngcayisa – Presbyterian Church of Africa
23. Dr. Gustav Claassen – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
24. Dr. William Van Der Merwe – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa 
25. Rev. Charmaine Morgan – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
26. Rev. Moss Ntlha – The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa 
27. Rev. Canon Desmond Lambrechts – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
28. Pastor. Hermy Damons – International Federation of Christian Churches 
29. Rev. Senamo Molisiwa – Council of African Instituted Churches
30. Bishop. Horst Muller – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (N-T)
31. Bishop. Isaiah Canny Mpofu – Council of African Instituted Churches
32. Pastor Xola Skosana – Way of Life
33. Mr. Marcus Van Wyk – SACLI
34. Mr. Miles Giljam – SACLI
35. Mr. Henry Jeffreys – Journalist and analyst 
36. Rev. Loyiso Jonga – Baptist Church
37. Rev. Edwin Arrison – Kairos Southern Africa
38. Rev. Miranda Magxwalisa – Jerusalem Church in South Africa
39. Rev. Cornelis Janse van Rensburg – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
40. Rev. Cornelis Du Toit – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
41. Dr. Sipho Mahokoto – NRASD
42. Dr. Garth Japhet – Heartlines
43. Sheikh Achmat Sedick – Muslim Judicial Council

The Church “lights up the streets” at corruption march

The Church is making its mark by helping to lead the charge against corruption and for a just and equal society as part of the Unite Against Corruption campaign, according to various national Christian leaders who commented on the September 30th anti-corruption marches in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.
A number of civil society leaders also highlighted the participation and leadership not only of Christian leaders, but also ordinary Christians in the marches against corruption this week, saying that this has set the stage for larger demonstrations in October by the union sector
Leaders from more than 300 religious groups, NGOs and labour unions called on government to take note of the united movement that is forming around the fight against corruption. School children, housewives, workers and leaders with opposing political views and all income and racial groups walked side by side, singing struggle songs.

Unity in diversity

More than four thousand people marched in Cape Town despite pouring rain at times, demanding an end to corruption in the public and private sectors, saying the fight against corruption is a fight for the soul of South Africa as a nation.
A list of demands made collectively by the Unite Against Corruption leadership was read aloud by two university students, to Mr Sid Peimer, Executive Director of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce.
In Pretoria, police counted 7 500 participants at the Union Buildings.
Bishop Jo Seoke handed over the memorandum of demands, and called on government to protect the Marikana widows and orphans as he addressed. Minister in the Presidency Mr. Jeff Radebe received the memorandum on behalf of government.

A time to be courageous

At the Cape Town march, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church said the time to be courageous has come, as it did during the fight against apartheid. He encouraged South Africans to be brave enough to not be silent when they witness corrupt activities, and to protect whistle-blowers.
“Our country deserves better than the way our leaders are behaving now. Our country’s communities deserve better. Our families deserve better. Our children deserve better.
“Too much of our country’s destiny is in the hands of corrupt leaders and bureaucrats; now it must pass into the hands of our 50 million citizens.
“May we rally today and every single month going forward, to courageously look inwards and disinfect ourselves of all that is not values-based. Let those of us who are Christians uphold a vision of the resurrected Christ who in overcoming death sent a very important message about courage, the courage that survived even death.”

Lighting up the streets

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu could not attend the marches due to ill health, but issued a short statement in support.
“A society that assigns resources on the basis of people’s proximity to power is no less sinful to one assigning resources on the basis of skin colour.
“We live in a beautiful country richly endowed with natural resources. Each is entitled to a fair share. Nobody is more entitled than anyone else – and nobody is more, or less, accountable.”
Rev. Moss Ntlha, Secretary General of The Evangelical Alliance of Southern Africa, said that for him, the march had “incarnational significance.”
“It was a picture of godly men and women inserted in a justice struggle alongside those less certain that there is a God. We are never going to find a world in which we can choose the terrain of our witness. It will always be a messy place.
“At the march, the church lit up its light in the streets.”

Christian artists contribute

Ms Leigh Erasmus, a guitarist, worship leader and songwriter from His People City Bowl church led worship at the start of the march. Rain had just begun to fall on the crowd when she sang her original song called “Cape Town will be saved.”
Ms Siki Dlanga, a poet who also performed, said this brought a worshipful, repentant atmosphere to the march.
“She sang with power and authority from the Holy Spirit.
“People from different communities and beliefs lifted up their hands in worship as she sang that Cape Town would be saved. The atmosphere of God’s presence seemed to be ministering to people deeply, like rain in a thirsty land, even as our clothes got wet from the drizzle.”

A message of repentance

At the Union Buildings in Pretoria, SACC President and Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Zipho Siwa, told the crowd that South Africans needed a change of heart.
“The nation must repent and turn its back from corruption. Freedom will only come when the people of this nation are freed from the bondage of corruption.”

Noting the contribution of the Church

Ronnie Kasrils from the United Front said to fight corruption is South Africans’ duty to their country. He also appreciated the wide spectrum of ordinary South Africans attending the march.
“There is nothing like the sound of marching feet as people of all formations as they rise up in this troubled world.”
He complimented religious leaders – including the Pope – for their consistent commitment to social justice. The business world, he continued, should put people before profit.
“What are you really doing? Are you acting decisively?” Was his challenge to national leaders.

Church leaders join anti-corruption march

Senior church leaders from a broad spectrum of South Africa’s churches today called on Christians to join the March Against Corruption being organised by civil society groups for 30 September.

The leaders – including those from some of the largest Christian denominations – say their plea for members to join the march constitutes their first step in becoming more involved and vocal about justice for the poor in South Africa, and in ensuring that the country remains a viable state.

The March Against Corruption is being organised by civil society groups and will simultaneously take place at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town.

A list of the names of the leaders can be found at the bottom of this statement.

Rev. Moss Ntlha, one of the leaders and General Secretary of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, today said the march represents the people of South Africa taking responsibility for themselves and for what is going on in the country. 

Not the first time

This is not the first time that senior clergy have taken issue with current affairs in South Africa. Twice in 2012 similarly constituted groups of leaders wrote strongly worded letters addressing the state of the nation – at the time of the ANC’s centenary celebrations and after the Marikana massacre. These called for integrity in politics, social justice and an end to corruption.

“Twenty-five years ago we mobilised across the board to take responsibility for our country,” Ntlha said.

“Nowadays people have simply abandoned hope as they feel powerless to change anything. We believe ordinary citizens need to take responsibility again to make sure that corruption ends in every sphere of society. This includes churches, civil society, business and government and homes where men abuse their power against women and children. This is a comprehensive call.

“Every person who marches is doing an act of repentance, and is calling others to repent.”

The most trusted institution

According to the Reconciliation Barometer, published annually by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africans last year indicated the highest confidence levels in religious institutions and the Public Protector, and the lowest in political parties and the police.

On top of this, national research has shown that 81% of the population specifically regard the church as the most trusted institution and at least 80% of the population claims to be Christian.

“We see this march as a time for Christians to take responsibility through confession, prayer, self-reflection, to turn towards justice and away from practicing corruption.”

Ntlha says the leaders are not pointing fingers. They are in fact taking responsibility for South Africans’ corporate corruption as citizens of a 21 year old democracy who claim to be 80% Christian.

“We acknowledge that many of our members are corrupt. So we can’t judge anybody. We have to engage in a self-critical way. For us the march signals a call to repentance.

“But secondly, if the church does not use the trust levels that it has to call for a different way of being South African, of respect for the constitution and basic responsibility, we may lose the opportunity to stop the country’s downward slide. And from that we may never recover.”

Faith and action

The church leaders called all Christians and people of faith in South Africa to participate through demonstrations and prayer everywhere in the country on the day of the march, and leading up to that day.

“Beyond the march we would like to see the emergence of a responsible South Africa and we believe the march signals that possibility. We dream of a South Africa where citizens are not only accountable, but hold others accountable, whether they are in business or in government.

“We realize this will be work in progress.”

“I am calling on the Church that we all stand up and say we will go to prison again; we will die again if any person gets victimized because of color, or for any other reason that contradicts our commitments to justice.”

– Rev. Frank Chikane, 1980’s

 

The leaders who have issued this call include:

  • Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Bishop of Cape Town,
  • Dr Frank Chikane, International President of the Apostolic Faith Mission International and Senior Vice President of the SA Council of Churches,
  • Bishop Zipho Siwa, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa and veteran anti-apartheid activist,
  • Angelo Scheepers, General Secretary of the Baptist Union,
  • Simon Lerefolo, Executive Pastor of His People Church Joburg,
  • Edwin Arrison from Kairos Southern Africa,
  • Prof. Peter Storey, former President of the SACC & Methodist Church,
  • Andre Bartlett, Chairperson of the SACC in Gauteng,
  • Moss Ntlha of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa,
  • Archbishop Mshengu from Ikhaya le Zione,
  • Bishop Lunga ka Siboto, Ethiopian Episcopal Church,
  • Dr Barney Pityana, human rights lawyer and theologian,
  • Mr Michael Cassidy, Founder of Africa Enterprise and the National Initiative for Reconciliation,
  • The Revd Canon Prof N Barney Pityana, retired Rector of the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown and retired Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of South Africa,
  • Mary Anne Plaaitjies van Huffel, Moderator: Uniting Reformed Church of SA and Deputy Chair: National Church Leaders’ Forum,
  • Dr Braam Hanekom, Vice Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Synod,
  • Costa Mitchell, National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches of South Africa,
  • Barry Isaacs, General Secretary of the Consultation of Christian Churches.

Various other leaders are on board, and the sign-up process continues.