Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chinese Government Officials Visit Churches in South Africa

This media statement was issued on 27 May 2011.

The Most Revd Dr Thabo C Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, along with other church leaders in South Africa hosted a ten person delegation from China's Ministry of State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) in Johannesburg and Cape Town from 20 to 24 May 2011. Their purpose was two-fold: to reflect on models of church and the role of the church within local communities; as well as the church’s relationship with the state and how that is conducted. The delegation leader, Cabinet Minister Wang said, “China is going through massive change and we are keen to learn from our friends in South Africa where you have experienced amazing changes yourselves. We are looking for good role-models”. Church leaders realised afresh their enormous responsibility to reflect Christ and his church in practical ways that would bring fresh hope to a very needy world – and this case, to potentially impact 1.3 billion people through this engagement. South Africa was their final leg after visits to Kenya and Uganda.

The delegation’s first stop was Johannesburg where they were able to visit the Union Buildings, meet with the Revd Dr Frank Chikane who formerly served in the Presidency about church/state relations, and visit Soweto where they were able to visit prominent sites like the Hector Petersen Memorial, Regina Mundi Catholic Church and visit the homes of former struggle leaders.

Their Cape Town visit included a dinner hosted by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, attending the installation of the new Dean of St George’s Cathedral where they were able to engage with Cabinet Minister Trevor Manual who was representing the State President, visiting The Warehouse whose ministry assists churches in their response to poverty and injustice, the Fikelela HIV AIDS Centre in Khayelitsha, the JL Zwane in Gugulethu whose ministries of compassion are outstanding and the Bible Society of South Africa which now prints 98% of their bibles in China.

The Revd Peter Langerman, chairperson of the Consultation of Christian Churches and co-host of the visit said, “Our aim and prayer was for the Chinese delegation to return home convinced that greater freedom for the church would result in a major asset being released within their nation”.

Archbishop John Chew of Singapore who accompanied the delegation said, “Enormous changes have already taken place in China. We have been building a relationship with the Chinese state for about twenty years and are seeing the fruit thereof. A few years ago they permitted the establishment of a printing press in Nanjing. The press has already printed about 53 million bibles in Chinese languages”. About a quarter of all the bibles printed in the world today are being printed in China. Archbishop Chew coordinated the visit which was organized by the Primates of the Global South Anglican Communion.

Minister Wang Zuo'an who led the team was profuse in his praise for what they had experienced of the church in South Africa. He expressed the hope that models and principles of ministry and community that they had encountered here could also become a reality in China.

For more information, contact the Revd Trevor Pearce (Growing the Church)021 712 0408, or Wendy Tokata (Office of the Archbishop) at 021 763 1320. This statement is being released jointly by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and the Office of Growing the Church.

Attached photo: The Most Revd Dr. Thabo C Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Minister Wang Zuo'an of China's Ministry of State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Africa Day Letter to Archbishop of Sudan

On Africa Day, 25 May 2011, Archbishop Dr Thabo Makgoba, wrote this open letter to his colleague, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul Yak, the Archbishop of the Sudan

My Dear Brother in Christ,

I write to assure you of our support and prayers for you and the people of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and indeed all the people of the Sudan, especially in the light of the latest attack on Abyei.

I also call on the international community, including South Africa, to bring diplomatic pressure on the government of Sudan to stop the use of force and violence by forces loyal to it in Abyei and to support appeals for emergency relief for the victims of this conflict.

When conflict and violence subsides I would hope that both Sudan and South Sudan will allow a democratic process to determine the place of Abeyi in the new dispensation soon to take place.

I call upon UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to continue to address the situation most urgently through the UN Security Council so that this current crisis will not postpone the formation of Africa’s newest state.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Inquiries: Wendy Tokata on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)

To the Laos - to the People of God, May 2011

Dear People of God

If your life is anything like mine, there will no doubt be times when you are so caught up with busyness that it threatens at times the ‘big picture’. It can be especially hard to keep in touch with the biggest picture of all, God’s perspective, when life is full of activity and stress.

Therefore I was particularly grateful for the opportunity earlier this month to travel to Turkey, together with Lungi, and also Archbishop Stephen Brislin of the Roman Catholic Church, and Prof Cali August of Stellenbosch University, as guests of Turkish Airways and Mr Halil Yurtsever of the Turquoise Harmony Institute, an independent inter-faith body set up by the growing Turkish community in South Africa to foster better understanding between the two countries. After a few days in Istanbul, we were privileged to travel through southern Turkey, visiting ancient ruins of many of the earliest Christian churches. These included places from St Paul’s journeys, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, and other sites associated with our Christian forebears. Standing close to where, according to some traditions, St Philip the Apostle was martyred, touched me very deeply. In some of these places, the churches have managed to cling on, often through long periods of great oppression.

All this opened my eyes to reflect again on how we, caught up in the life of the southern end of the continent of Africa, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, are part of something much, much bigger. I was reminded of the First Eucharistic Prayer, in which we ask God to ‘be made one with all your people of this and every age.’ In Christ we are united with this ‘cloud of witnesses’ from the past, as well as with those of our own time – and indeed, generations still to come.

And yet it is also more than this. We visited the sites of some of the seven churches to which the letters in Revelation were written. We stayed for two nights in Izmir, Smyrna and tried to imagined the challenges Bishop Polycarp faced then, in this coastal city. Seeing their old stones, especially in Ephesus, and recalling those words, brought it home to me in a fresh way that the life of faith, while expressed and experienced by each of us in our own locality and culture, at the same time also transcends both time and space. This is reflected in what we declare at Morning and Evening Prayer throughout the Easter season, with the glorious acclamation ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen – we are risen. Alleluia!’

This is the heart of the gospel. In the crucified and risen Christ, we find forgiveness for our sins, hope and strength for this life, and the promise of being united with God in love for all eternity. Looking at these holy places, and realising that I, like every disciple of Jesus Christ, have my own calling to follow faithfully, I felt the words of St Paul echoing in me: ‘what I have received from the Lord, I have also handed on …’ (1 Cor 11:23). We have our part to play in transmitting the good news of Jesus Christ to those around us, and to our children, and their children.

‘To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom’ is the first of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission. The others are ‘to teach, baptise and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to seek to transform unjust structures of society; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ You can find them all, and more information about them, at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/fivemarks.cfm. There is even a sixth mark of mission under consideration, to address our vocation of peace-making, conflict transformation and reconciliation.

Sometimes the circumstances of Southern Africa make it seem that we are very focussed on the fourth mark – for there is so much need for transformation within the structures of our societies. But this month I am glad to give thanks for a very effective, and just, institution within South Africa, which plays such an important role in enhancing democracy. Let us congratulate our own Dr Hlophe Bam and all her colleagues at the Independent Electoral Commission, for a job well done, in efficiently running peaceable local elections. We are proud of her, and we wish her well as she prepares to step down as Chairperson at the end of the year. She has served God well in public life, demonstrating clearly what it means truly to be a public servant, and I encourage all Anglicans to follow and uphold her example.

But even if the situation in which we find ourselves pushes us to emphasis one particular Mark of Mission, we can never pursue this separately from the others. So our engagement in public life is always rooted in the heart of the gospel message, and will always reflect aspects of the other Marks. Even more than this, it must always be rooted in Scripture, as interpreted through reason and tradition (in both of which, in various ways, we include reflection on our experiences of life). Yet it may not always be immediately clear how to apply the teachings of Scripture with integrity in some areas where we pursue justice and transformation. Many issues we face today, for example, in relation to uses of technology, are completely foreign to Bible times. So I commend to you the Anglican Communion’s ‘Bible in the Life of the Church’ project which is particularly looking at how Anglicans and Episcopalians today use the Bible in tackling the fourth and fifth Marks of Mission. Several members of our church are part of this important work. You can find more details at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/theological/bible/index.cfm. Similarly important is the Continuing Indaba project, which grew out of differences on human sexuality, but now has the far wider task of helping us listen to one another across our global diversity, and build stronger relationships that help us better deal with disagreements. See http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/continuingindaba/.

Looking ahead, I strongly commend the ‘Back to Church Sunday’ initiative, this year being held on 25 September. The Growing the Church team have material to help us prepare for this. You can find details in their latest newsletter, at http://www.growingthechurch.org.za/oid/downloads/2011_01_gtc_newsletter.pdf.

Finally, I commend to you continuing prayers those who are affected by the natural disasters around our world. Many of you may have seen the terrible flooding and also the hurricane damage in the United States as TV pictures are beamed round the world. But many others suffer, with far less publicity – Namibia too has experienced severe flooding and loss of life. They need our prayers no less than those who are able to grab the headlines. And if you find yourself in need, and fear that there is no one to pray for you, take heart! Remember that Jesus sits for ever at the right hand of God, and never ceases in his intercessions for us all.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sermon for the New Dean - To your Name, Lord, Give the Glory

This sermon was preached at the Induction and Installation of the Very Revd Michael Weeder as Rector of the Cathedral Parish of St George the Martyr and Dean of Cape Town, on 22 May 2011.

Psalm 115; Leviticus 8: 1- 12; Matthew 7:7 -14

Alleluia, Christ is risen – He is risen indeed, Alleluia

May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear people of God, dear people of the Cathedral Parish of St George the Martyr, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear friends from near and far, I greet you in the name of the God who delights to give good gifts to his children.

What a joy and pleasure it is to share today with you all. Thank you for being here. [Further words of welcome and thanks.]

As my text this afternoon I am taking the first verse of our Psalm, which reads, in more modern translation: ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory’ (Ps 115:1).

One thing that Cathedrals are very good at doing, is putting on a show! This is true of days like today, and the great feasts of the Church, like Easter and Christmas, as well as the many other special events that happen here for people and organisations from across Cape Town or farther afield.

Archdeacon Michael – soon to be Dean Michael – you will find that, whatever the occasion, you will be there, at the heart of it all, a focus for everything the Cathedral stands for. It is a responsibility that you will also shoulder on far quieter occasions, at the early morning Eucharists; in the pastoral care of individuals; and through passing conversations with the many visitors to this wonderful place. Whether events are great or small – whether directed inwards to the life of the Church, or outwards to city and beyond – these all illustrate the immense breadth that is typical of the ministry of our Cathedrals and their Deans.

And yet, the show that we put on is not about the place, nor about the person. It is not for our own benefit. It is not intended to draw attention to ourselves and the Anglican Church, nor to advertise the splendour of this building (though I must admit, we are keen to advertise the appeal for much needed repairs to the roof!).

But what matters most is this – that in all that a Cathedral and its Dean are called to be and do, above everything else stands the call to follow the Psalmist’s words: ‘Not to us, but to your Name, O Lord, give the glory.’

Cathedrals occupy a very particular place in the life of the Church, one that is both alike, and unlike, that of parish churches. You are like our parish churches, in that this is the home of a faithful Christian community, who – day by day, week by week – offer prayer and praises. You gather together so that, feeding on the Word and Sacraments, you can build one another up as the Body of Christ centred upon this place; and encourage one another in the lives of worship, witness and service to which you are called, and to which you pledge yourselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Confirmation. You have all manner of groups and projects – from the choir and book-club, to the shop and outreach activities, especially in support to the homeless of the city centre, and to those infected and affected by AIDS and HIV.

All this is much like any other parish. For this is the Cathedral Parish of St George the Martyr; and you, Michael, are, first of all, to be its Rector. So draw on all your years of experience in the many parishes in which you have served. It is wonderful to have them all represented here today. Remember, Michael, that it is first of all, as Rector that I institute you; and it is as Rector that you are to serve the people of this parish – and to serve those to whom you and they together are called in ministry and mission. So, in the life of this Cathedral parish, may your motto be, ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.’

But Cathedrals, as I said, are also very much unlike most parish churches. The Diocese of Cape Town looks to the Cathedral as our Mother Church. The seat of the Diocesan Bishop is here. And we look to the Dean as our Senior Priest, sharing in the collaborative leadership at the heart of our Diocese. As Dean, and as Cathedral Parish, we ask you to exercise this position of leadership in the service of the Diocese. We come to the Cathedral for the major events of Diocesan life – particularly consecrations and ordinations – and we will look to you, as our Dean, to be our host. We also look to the Cathedral to provide both a central focus, and a place where every member of our Diocese can come, and feel that they belong here, and feel welcome and at home. So my prayer too is that in the life of the Diocese, God’s name will be glorified through the life of this Cathedral.

While Cathedrals are at the heart of the life of the church in a way that no other parish is, they are also on the edge of the church in the way no parish is. For Cathedrals stand in that ambiguous place where the church meets the world and the world meets the Church. This has been especially true of St George’s, which has played such an enormous part in the life of our city and our country, over more than a century.

Everyone who comes within these walls should encounter the active presence of God. Here people should find the dramatic embodiment of the mysteries in which we believe and trust, and by which we live. They should know themselves to be in a place made holy by the habitual prayer of a faithful Christian community. Those who enter this building must hear it declared, and not necessarily in words: ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.’

But we do not proclaim ‘our God is God of all’ only within these walls. This Cathedral has a proud history of taking the initiative and proclaiming the lordship of God loud and clear to the city and nation. Giving glory to God is the starting point, and the context, for the Cathedral’s ministry and mission to the world around. This was the basis on which it stood firm during the struggle years. This is the place from which it speaks to the world today.

Whatever circumstances face us, whatever the situation that we find in the city around, it is God’s message that we must declare, in words and actions. This is illustrated in our first reading. Moses received the command of the Lord, and he called the people together, and declared God’s command, and carried out God’s command. We too pass on what we have received from God. And so we preach the gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and declare the Kingdom in his name.

And in giving glory to the name of the Lord, we declare God’s character.

• He is the God of love, we proclaim to those who feel marginalised, excluded, rejected.

• He is the God of hope, we proclaim to those who despair, who fear, who think their life has hit a dead end, or their problems are insoluble.

• He is the God of healing, we proclaim to the suffering, the wounded, the broken-hearted.

• He is the God of forgiveness, we proclaim to those burdened by their own wrongdoings, their guilt, their shame – as well as to those who bear anger and hatred.

• He is the God of freedom, we proclaim to all who feel trapped – perhaps by circumstances, or drugs, or alcohol, or abusive relationships.

• He is the God of peace, we proclaim to all who are troubled, anxious or in turmoil.

• He is the God of justice, we proclaim to those who suffer discrimination, oppression, prejudice, unfairness.

• He is the God of judgement too – and we are not afraid to proclaim this also: wherever there is injustice; wherever the rich exploit the poor, or the strong exploit the weak, or the powerful exploit the marginalised, the voiceless, the excluded.

God stands in very particular solidarity with people who are in any sort of need; and this Cathedral has a long history of being unafraid to stand where God stands. This is why it has won the title of The People’s Cathedral. May you continue to earn it.

This election week, we are particularly aware of the call to serve others with justice and dedication, that comes to all who bear elected office. So, let me say to all those who are newly elected – we have you in our prayers as you take up the reins of office; and we will continue to uphold you in prayer in the months and years ahead.

But we also say to you, never forget that this power and responsibility is given for the service of the whole country. It is especially to be used for those in greatest need. It is not for the benefit of those who are elected, their friends or family, nor is it to be used to advance the interests of one’s own political party. It is to be exercised with honesty, truthfulness, and hard work. Promises are to be kept. Services must be delivered. And there must be accountability – the voices of the people are to be heard, not only at election time, but always.

This is the justice that the Cathedral will, I am sure, continue to pursue – often working together with other Christians, our brothers and sisters of other faith communities, and with other civil society organisations and individuals. We pursue this, because this is a task we have received from the Lord.

And we know that what God calls us to do, he also equips us to do. Our second reading spoke of how he delights to give his good gifts to his people, as they call on him. Reliance on God’s call, and on God’s gifts, directed and empowered the Cathedral in the primary role it played in the struggle years. Reliance on God’s call, and on God’s gifts, has directed and empowered the Cathedral in pioneering a ministry to those infected and affected by AIDS and HIV.

And now I say to you, Dean Michael, and to the people of the Cathedral: follow the lessons of this reading from St Matthew’s Gospel. Ask, and you will be given, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.

Today a new chapter begins in the life of this Cathedral Parish, and in the life of its calling to serve God’s church and God’s world. Let God write that chapter for you. Let him direct you. Let him empower you. Ask his leading, seek his guidance, knock that he may open the door of the narrow gate – and be ready to walk through it, knowing that it is the pathway to life: life for the people of the Cathedral community; and life for the people to whom he sends you. The gate is narrow, and the path may sometimes be strewn with challenges, difficulties and setbacks. But be confident that as you journey with the Lord, he will give you all that you need. For everyone who asks, receives; everyone who searches, finds; for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

May it be so – for you, Dean Michael, and to everyone who has ears to hear these words. Amen

Friday, May 20, 2011

Installation of New Dean of Cape Town

The following statement was issued on 19 May 2011.

On Sunday 22 May 2011, at 3pm, at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba will institute the Very Revd Michael Weeder as Rector of the Cathedral Parish of St George the Martyr and install him as 15th Dean of Cape Town. Various dignitaries from all walks of life are expected, including from the political, civil society and diplomatic worlds, and representatives of other faiths.

Further details of the appointment, together with the new Dean’s CV are available at . A note giving some background information on the service is appended below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Inquiries: Wendy Tokata on 021- 763-1320 (Bishopscourt, office hours); St George’s Cathedral 021 423 3371 (office hours); Revd Terry Lester 073 402 0064 (Cathedral Sub-Dean); Very Revd Michael Weeder 083 384 4854 (Dean-elect)

A note on the Service of Induction and Installation

The service reflects the continuity of the past in the life of the Church today. It is made up of two distinct rites: the Office of Evening Prayer, in the form found in Book of Common Prayer (South Africa), with the canticles sung to the form found in the Anglican Prayer Book of 1989; and the Service for the Institution of a Priest to a Pastoral Charge. The South African Book of Common Prayer is based on the English Book of Common Prayer of 1662, which itself drew on ancient Latin liturgical texts. The continuity of the prayer life of the church is shown through these forms of service, from different ages, being used as a harmony.

We are a church in Africa, so the lections for this service are being read in Arabic and Nama, declaring the continuity we share with the oldest cultures of both our continent and our country. One of the processional crosses used today gives witness to the oldest Christian Church in sub Saharan Africa – the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

On Friday the 23rd May, 1958, Fr Ted King was instituted and installed as Dean of Cape Town. One day short of 53 years later we celebrate a further point in the continuing story of the Cathedral and Anglicans in Cape Town. When Fr Rowan Smith was instituted and installed as Dean, on the 13th October 1996, the Precentor was Fr Christian Hartnick. Archdeacon Hartnick plays that role on Sunday.

Within the service we celebrate today, there are also those elements which show that we are a church living and bearing witness in the third millennium of the Christian era. We hold these things together as we serve our God, who is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

The Magdala Cross: The Processional Cross used for the Archbishop’s procession is usually kept in the Cathedral Treasury. It was found on the battlefield after the destruction of Magdala in Abyssinia in 1868, and was presented to the Cathedral in 1898. It is believed to be over a thousand years old. This is the first time it has been used in over a century.

Election Monitoring Network, Voting Day Report

Election Monitoring Network, Final Voting Day Report – 7.30 p.m., 18th May 2011

In the bulk of South Africa, the Local Government Elections were substantially peaceful. Where incidents arose, the agencies responsible for ensuring a successful election, as well as those tasked with protecting the electoral democratic space, dealt with them quickly, professionally and appropriately.

The ‘peace’ component in our maturing democracy has once again been demonstrated through these elections.

Although confirmation is awaited, it will be encouraging if the 50% turnout threshold is crossed.

While noting the above, however, we are gravely concerned by the reports of Election Day violence from Ulundi. Although this seems to have been an isolated case, one incident of violence remains one too many.

While Election Day was peaceful, it came against the backdrop of discontent and sometimes violence around service delivery. The low point of the election campaign was undoubtedly the death of Andries Tatane at Ficksburg. Tensions remain in our society which needs to be monitored in the short-term, while in the medium-term; the primary duty of our newly elected councillors must be to end the conditions which create such discontent.

There were many clear signals of a maturing democracy shown today. Foremost among these was the conduct of our citizens. They were called upon to act in a responsible manner, and as before their conduct has been impeccable.

We would also like to congratulate the IEC on their conduct of the election. While there were some minor administrative weaknesses, once again their machinery was capable of dealing with these in an appropriate manner. This helps ensure citizen confidence and peaceful elections. We would also like to congratulate SAPS for the way they responded to problems.

The media – both the print and electronic media – reported fairly and contributed to the robust debate and informed citizenry which are the cornerstones of democracy.

At this stage, today’s election seems to have been the most peaceful in South Africa’s democratic history, and we trust that this bodes well for our future.

For further enquiries contact: Derrick Marco on 0825607026

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Election Monitoring Network Report No. 2

Election Monitoring Network Report No. 2 was issued on 16 May 2011 - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is Patron of the EMN

Summary and Introduction

The core mandate of EMN is early detection of and early response to threats of violence in the Local Government Election 2011. This mandate is executed through a network of fieldworkers and Provincial Coordinators, as well as media tracking on the Local Government Election 2011, in so far as it points to potential conflict and violence.

Today, we release our second pre-election report to provide a sense of the electoral democratic context, as it relates to conflict and violence, as well as signalling concerns that might arise beyond Election Day itself. In this election, service delivery is rightly dominating the electorate’s concerns.

Despite a number of serious incidents, by and large this has been most peaceful election since the advent of democracy, with the least experience of political intolerance. We would like to commend all of those who have contributed to making this election, for most South Africans, a passionate and vibrant contest and a credit to South African democracy. We have come a long way since our founding election of 1994.

Service Delivery

Service delivery protests have grown in significance and intensity over the past two years. It is understandable that, as so many of the protests relate to failures by municipalities, that this local government election has provided them with renewed energy.

Service delivery protests have become a major item on the political agenda and in the news headlines during the campaign. This was most graphically captured in the death of Andries Tatane in Ficksburg, as well as the ‘toilet saga’ in the Western Cape, North West, and the Free State. Other, no less dramatic, examples of the citizenry making it heard through protests occurred with regard to housing in Hout Bay (Hangberg) and Randfontein (Bekkersdal).

While citizens have every right to protest peacefully, our worry is that service delivery protests are a consequence of people losing faith in the democratic process, and its ability to deliver change. This point has been made explicitly by service delivery protestors on a number of occasions. A further concern is that, while most service delivery protests are peaceful, some have turned violent. Service delivery protests are likely to remain a feature of political life in South Africa, untill government and municipalities become more effective in engaging with communities.

Cause of Incidents

Although election violence has been sporadic, there are definite trends to be noted. In addition to service delivery, the early part of the campaign, incidents relating to candidate selection, often linked with service delivery complaints, were the most prevalent type of incident reported to the Election Monitoring Network. In the past number of weeks, incidents relating to conflict between parties have become more common, and those about candidate selection have subsided a little. By and large, the incidents relating to conflict between parties have not been as serious as those occurring earlier in the campaign, such as the killing of Councillors in KwaZulu-Natal, when candidate selection disputes were at their height.

However, a further period of tension between parties is likely once the results are announced, particularly in municipalities where there has been a change in party control or where no party obtains a majority and coalition negotiations are required. The process of post-election candidate realignment is another potential cause of instability.

Other Potential Hotspot Areas

We have identified three metros that are, and remain, very high on the radar, if not for visible conflict and violence, then at least for potential swings that could lead to conflict and violence. These are Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane. Parts of eThekwini remain a focus of tension and politcal intolerance, particularly in the hostels.

Beyond these metros, a number of other areas are potential hotspots for violence and other incidents: Buffalo City (due to become a Metro after the election) and Alfred Nzo District Municipality, both in the Eastern Cape; much of rural KwaZulu-Natal; Setsoto (Ficksburg), Moqhaka and Botshabelo in Mangaung in the Free State; Moutse in Limpopo; Midvaal in Gauteng and Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) in the North West.

Our Concerns

• We are concerned about inflammatory and inappropriate messages from parties

• We are concerned about the media overstating and sensationalising issues.

• We are concerned about intolerance, intimidation, harrassment and disturbances.

• We are concerned about accessibilty, accountability and potentially unrealistic promises being made by politicians.

• We are concerned about attempts to impede the voting process.

A Call to South Africans

We commend the citizens, political parties, the IEC, CSOs, faith-based groups and the media for their overall conduct during the election campaign. We further call on all South Africans to create an environment which enables everyone to express their political views and to vote freely.

We call on the voters to:

• maintain their vigilance and not be drawn into conflict and violence;

• exercise their right as citizens to vote responsibly, after due reflection on all the options that are available;

• choose leaders who themselves will act responsibly and respect the office they are holding.

We call on the IEC to:

• continue to administer the election responsibly and with the utmost care;

• provide the nation with accurate and speedy results;

• provide speedy dispute resoultion after the election.

We call on the security forces to:

• conduct themselves with restraint, observing and upholding the rule of law in the conduct of their duties;

• protect citizens and their rights.

We call on political parties to:

• exhibit the level of maturity expected in a democratic society;

• call on their supporters to respect the election results in all localities;

• utilise the dispute mechanisms that have been put in place to contest results and the conduct of others, including the IEC, to uphold the rule of law under all circumstances;

• remain responsive and accountable between elections.

We call on the media:

• to recognise the level of maturity South Africa has reached as a democracy, to refrain from sensationalism, and to report appropriately and responsibly as expected in a mature democracy.

Finally:

• We call on all young people to exercise their right to vote;

• We call on all employers to enable their employees, as well as their employees’ families, to exercise their right to vote, especially in the agricultural sector.

For media interviews: 1. Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, 082 429 4719; 2. Derrick Marco, 082 560 7026

Election Message from the Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum

This statement was issued on 12 May 2011 by the Western Cape Religious Leaders' Forum, which Archbishop Thabo Makgoba chairs.

The local elections which will take place next Wednesday, 18th May, will determine the leadership of our cities, towns and districts for the next five years. Those elected will have enormous power – and responsibility – to ensure our nation moves forward and does so in a way that is fair to everyone.

As faith communities we remember that all human beings, including members and supporters of all parties, are children of the divine. We therefore have a duty to treat one another with respect, tolerance and fairness. It is important that every South African can take part in political activities freely, and support the party they choose, without fear of violence, poor treatment, ostracism or abuse.

While we support no one party, we do believe that every citizen has a responsibility to cast their vote. All of our faith traditions demand that we take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for our neighbours, for our communities and for our environment. Failing to vote is failing to live up that responsibility.

As people of faith, we have a responsibility to speak truth to power, and to ask difficult questions of politicians in all parties. In particular, all of our traditions demand that we pay particular heed to the needs of the poor, vulnerable and defenceless, and to be the voice of those who are unable to speak for themselves. We therefore call on all people of faith to ask those difficult questions of politicians before casting their vote, and to remember the impact of political decisions on the whole of our society rather than just on themselves.

We also remind all people of faith that democracy does not come to an end once the election results are out, and neither does our responsibility to be active citizens. It is important that people of faith continue to engage politicians once the elections are over, and hold them to their campaign promises in the years to come.

Power exercised without underlying values is a very dangerous thing. We call on our politicians who are people of faith to always have in mind the values of their faith tradition, both when they are campaigning and once in office. To our politicians who hold no faith, we ask them to remember the humanist and humane principles enshrined in our Constitution, principles which resonate with all of our faith traditions.

We also call on all political leaders to remember that true leadership is expressed in the service of others. We ask them not to use public office to amass power and wealth, or to dominate others, but to serve the whole nation.

Finally, we ask all people of faith to pray for a peaceful election, and to pray for those who disagree with them as well as those with whom they agree.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Climate Change is Moral Imperative for All

The following Press Statement was issued on 6 May 2011.

The Archbishop, who is a participant at the World Economic Forum in Africa, has written to his faithful that Climatic change must be regarded as a moral imperative for all and hopes that others at WEF will take heed of his call. His full statement follows:

In one sense, I imagine I might be ‘preaching to the choir’ about climate change, as we sometimes say in the church. But even if we agree on its reality and the dangers which it poses for our planet and our people, we need to make our witness bolder and take more courageous steps to bring others to our state of awareness and to work for real change.

We in the faith communities know that climate change will be hugely damaging to both people and our planet. We know too that it is not only an environmental, economic and social issue but essentially a moral issue. It must therefore be solved through moral principles.

We therefore ask this World Economic Forum to recognize the need to put justice first, in caring for people and planet, and to recognize that real prosperity can only come from making the well being of people and planet our primary concern. In our world today it seems clear that we put prosperity – and profitability – before justice, so that at a time when there is more wealth in the world than ever before, we also have greater poverty and inequality and alarming environmental destruction.

We are aware of what is happening - globally and nationally and locally. We are witnessing unprecedented and severe climatic changes and the effects are devastating. As the environment is harmed so are the local communities who live there. The impact is felt in terms of food production, of the availability of safe water, and of energy, in particular. The livelihoods of people may be changed forever.

When I attended the Lambeth Conference 2008 - a meeting of Anglican bishops around the world which is held every 10 years – and again at the meeting of Anglican Primates in Dublin earlier this year (2011) - we were told by some bishops that when we met again, parts of their dioceses would no longer be habitable. This is due mainly in their situations to rising water levels. Indeed we may be looking very soon at a new category of refugees in our global family – environmental refugees!

We can’t ignore these changes just because we don’t all agree scientifically. There is a need to look at ourselves. What patterns have changed in our attitudes to the creation which as been entrusted to us? How do we view our ‘rights’ to energy, water and land, to name but three of our natural resources?

In the Maplecroft Climate Change Risk Report 2009/2010 there was a devastating finding: that of the 28 areas in the world that would be most affected by climate change, 22 are in Africa! That is a frightening and sobering statistic for those of us living in our amazing continent. It may also speak to another aspect of the effects of climate change – it affects impoverished areas more. And this may be so, in part, because these areas have so few alternatives when environmental changes occur. By simple deduction, we can assume that the more developed and richer nations have more alternatives when facing the effects of climate change, most particularly because of their development and resources.

We in Africa also have a moral responsibility to speak out to those nations which have the greatest impact on climate change, through their high levels of carbon emissions. We are a global family – it is very hard to argue against that fact. Our actions impact on one another and our tragedies do as well. As we witness the insatiable desire for more and more energy, and increasing levels of deforestation around the world, we see these nations behaving as if these resources are limitless. They know and we know that they are not!

I want to say to this World Economic Forum that I believe your task is not to be led by financial interests nor to multiply your wealth. Your task - as is mine and that of all who recognise that we have responsibility for ourselves, for this world and all in it - is to be custodians of this planet, to care for it and look after it for the future – the future of your children and grandchildren and mine.

The UNFCCC COP 17 (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - Conference of the Parties) to be held here in Durban in November-December this year offers the world an opportunity to change direction. As host we pray our South African Government will “do the right thing” and set an example by seeking climate justice and radically reducing carbon emissions. However, we are deeply concerned that South Africa’s current energy policy as agreed by Cabinet and presented at Copenhagen falls seriously short of what science requires if we are to have any chance of preventing runaway global warming.

We also read in Scripture “From those to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48).

We look to the United States to give a lead and to do the right thing as a custodian of this planet and to make a clear commitment to reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the needs of the planet, and to work with the world community in overcoming this greatest threat humanity has ever faced. We also look to China. We know the commitment of China to bring development to its people, as in our own country. But, we say, do it the right way and set an example by developing your energy production only by renewable means.

Might these challenges and needed changes alter how we live our lives – especially the more affluent? They may very well. But we are a global family and we must learn to live as a caring and compassionate family – caring for all, and especially those who are struggling to find their place.

We must develop energy production through ways that are not destructive to the planet and the people, and that of course includes not destroying our climate and our water resources. We must live in harmony with the environment. We therefore call on this World Economic Forum to recognise that we are totally dependent on this planet and that we must therefore care for it and live within its natural constraints.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Inquiries: Wendy Tokata on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)