CHURCH leaders in South Africa have confronted the government there about the widespread Covid-19 procurement corruption. In an online service on 30 August, they declared September a month of “Direct Action Against Corruption”.
Preaching during the service, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, said: “I have wept. I have agonised. I have prayed for long hours in my heart. I have spoken my heart out in public over these past few days, over the terrible, downright despicable theft of public money, the looting of state coffers, and above all, the undisguised theft from the poor.”
He called for 2020 to be the Year of the Orange Jumpsuit, a reference to the uniform of prisoners in South Africa.
Four days earlier, in a video message, the Archbishop called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that “hypocrites” and “thieves” in the ruling African National Congress party return what they had stolen from the public, and be sent to prison.
“Mr President, this is not only stealing. It is annihilating the very lives of the poorest: it is almost genocidal in effect. Corrupt big-wigs who have joined your party, not to serve the common good but to enrich themselves, act with impunity — their attitudes are debilitating, life-drenching,” the Archbishop said in a recorded statement. “At this time in the history of our country, we must draw a line in the sand.”
The month-long anti-corruption campaign is run by the South African Council of Churches (SACC). “The clarion call during this heritage month is that ‘Corruption is not our heritage — nor is it our inheritance.’ We must together confront it head-on,” the Vice-President of the SACC, the Revd Frank Chikane, posted on Twitter on Tuesday of last week, the first day of the campaign.
“If our campaign to end corruption is to be credible, we should also be careful that in pointing out the motes in the eyes of politicians, we do not ignore the beams in our own eyes,” the Archbishop said in his sermon.
“This means that, as well as campaigning against corruption, we must campaign on broader societal issues affecting the welfare of our people, such as secure access to food, climate justice, gender-based violence, and practical action to root out the patriarchy in our churches which often facilitates such violence.”