Archbishop Makgoba calls for church action as SA ‘sinks into a mire’

24 September 2019 - 17:14
By TimesLIVE
Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says churches need to demand better from government.
Image: Gallo Images Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says churches need to demand better from government.

South Africa’s churches need to stand up and demand better of their government, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said on Tuesday.

“In South Africa, the church is hearing a deep cry, not only from our own clergy and lay Anglicans, but from leaders in other walks of society – even from leaders in political parties and government.

“The cry is this: As we sink into a mire of divisive, debilitating, unproductive and even murderous factional squabbles, seemingly without any regard for the welfare of the people, where is the voice of the church? Are we too narrowly focused on our own mission and ministry?” Makgoba said.

He was speaking at the Provincial Synod, a three-yearly meeting of the ruling body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in Benoni on Tuesday. It comprises clergy, lay people and bishops representing dioceses of the church in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena, South Africa and Swaziland.

According to a statement issued by Makgoba’s office, the meeting would “debate resolutions on issues such as the position of LGBT people in the church, climate change, the use of plastics, the status of Palestine and dealing with sexual abuse in the church” over the next three days.

Makgoba said it was vital that South Africans weren’t left demoralised and “opt out of involvement in public affairs”.

“There is something that ordinary South Africans can do, and that is to take our future into our own hands by reviving the 1980s activism of civil society, doing things for ourselves and mobilising to place pressure on government,” he said.

He added: “By now, 25 years after our liberation, surely we have learned that we cannot sit back and wait for government to do everything for us? Whenever and wherever we see government failing, especially at local level, we need to organise and act.

“For example, we hear of too many teachers who do not come to class on time, setting a bad example to learners and robbing them of the opportunity to take full advantage of their school hours. Perhaps if the gogos in a community got together and became watchdogs at schools, taking notes of when teachers arrive and leave, and sharing their records with governing bodies, we might see an improvement in attendance."

Makgoba said it was also vital to deal with “inter-generational poverty”, where those who are “likely to experience life abundantly in our society are the sons and daughters of the elite, while the sons and daughters of the poor struggle to break out of a vicious cycle of poverty”.

“The way to end this cycle is by giving children the means to break out of poverty through education. My special passion has been to encourage the establishment of new, low-fee, high quality church schools accessible to all, not just as a way for individuals to advance themselves, but as a contribution to society,” he said.

The meeting runs until Friday.