Monday, 28 December 2020

Letter of condolence to the NUM

The text of a letter of condolence sent to the National Union of Mineworkers following the death of their General Secretary, David Kolekile Sipunzi, on Christmas Day: 

Friday, 25 December 2020

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Archbishop's Christmas sermon

The text of the sermon preached by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at a Christmas Eve Mass with Lessons and Carols at the Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr in Cape Town. The Archbishop began by thanking the Dean, staff and members of the Cathedral congregation for their faithful service during the pandemic. He continued: 

Let me begin bluntly by saying that 2020 has been a lousy, unspeakable year for too many South Africans, and this Christmas – coming during a time of such intense suffering across the world – is not the Christmas we would have asked for. But it is the Christmas we have been given, and I invite you to reflect on the observation that it is probably the Christmas in our lifetimes which has the strongest resonance with the first Christmas. 

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Important Guidelines -- Second Wave of the Coronavirus

 Dear People of God 

Please find for careful study and implementation an important report and recommendations from the Provincial COVID Advisory Team on the second wave of the coronavirus now being experienced in many parts of our Province. 

Key implications of the report: 

    • Most urgent, in South Africa, all faith-based institutions have to be closed by 9pm in the evenings, whether events are held indoors or outdoors. This means ensuring all Christmas Eve services are finished by 9pm on Thursday. 

    • The Advisory Team recommends that services be restricted to 80 worshippers, where that number can be accommodated while observing social distancing of 1,5 metres. Where capacity is smaller, places of worship should not be more than 50% full. 

    • In South Africa, the latest regulations in any event limit attendance of a funeral to 100, observing 1,5m social distancing, or 50% of capacity where 100 cannot be accommodated. Night vigils and after-funeral gatherings, such as "after-tears" events, are prohibited. 

    •  In some churches, mask-wearing, proper sanitising and the prohibition on handshakes and singing without masks is not being observed.  

    • Where possible, we should return to on-line services and Diocesan bishops should seriously consider requests from parishes who wish to close for Christmas due to local conditions where such requests are properly motivated.  

    • Older people are often those who are most lonely in lockdown, but those over 60 and have co-morbidities are still the most vulnerable and ought to avoid returning to services. 

    • A vaccine is our best and only defence against the virus. We need to participate in advocacy efforts to see that access to the vaccine happens on a just and equitable basis. We need to support education initiatives around the vaccine and call for vaccination as  a common good. 

    • We need to focus anew on addressing food insecurity and other social needs and also strengthen our response to this is a more intentional way. As a mark of solidarity and hospitality to honour the birth of the Christ child in a manger, we should consider donating food, school shoes or a stationery pack instead of buying presents.

    • Since the Advisory Team met, it has become evident that new infections are highest in the 15-19 age group, so where possible the number of servers should also be reduced for the time being. 

Please read the accompanying report carefully. I am sure you will all join me in thanking the Advisory Team for their extensive and detailed work.  

 God bless you. 

† Thabo Cape Town

You can download the report here >>


Monday, 14 December 2020

Friday, 11 December 2020

Human rights award for Archbishop Emeritus Tutu

Remarks prepared for the granting of the Article 3 Human Rights Global Treasure Award to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu:

It is a great honour to have been asked to speak on behalf of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond today. I am privileged and grateful to have the opportunity. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Message for International Anti-Corruption Day

The following message was delivered on the Archbishop's behalf at an International Anti-Corruption Day protest in Cape Town: 

More than six years ago, religious leaders in Cape Town led a march to Parliament to protest against the corruption of the previous administration. At the rally we held at the end of that march, I described the collapse of standards and values we were seeing as something that began as a trickle but became a flood. But as alarming as the picture was, we never realised how extensive that flood was, or how deeply corruption reached into our public and private sectors. 

Monday, 30 November 2020

Sermon for Ordinations in the Diocese of Natal

The text of a sermon preached at an Ordination Service in the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, Pietermaritzburg, on 28 November 2020: 

Readings: Zachariah 8: 20-23, Ps 119:3 3-38, Romans 10: 8b-18, John 1: 35-42

May I speak in the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of our lives, Amen.

Dean Sibisi – Vicar General, bishops here present, fellow clergy, candidates for ordination and your families, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, people of God: it is a great joy for me to be here with you as we give thanks to God for this time together amidst the challenges of Covid-19.

It is an honour and privilege to have been asked to celebrate with you at this historic moment in the lives of the candidates, the community and the Diocese. 

Daily Reflections - Nov 30-Dec 4

 These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Copies of audio and video files are available for sharing

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

16 Days of Activism: In conversation with Mandy Marshall

As part of the Anglican Communion's contribution to this year's 16-Days of Activism, Archbishop Thabo took part in a discussion with the Anglican Communion's Director for Gender Justice, Mandy Marshall.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Brackenfell school conflict is a "wake-up" call

The fear and tension to which children at a Brackenfell school are unfairly being subjected are a wake-up call to every parent and governing body in South Africa. 

The conflict at the school reflects the failure of society, and particularly of parents and teachers, to root out racism among our children. If parents and teachers fail to heed the warning which Brackenfell sends, their children are in danger of being exposed to similar confrontations in future. 

A quarter of a century after our political liberation, it is unacceptable that children still openly make judgements about other children based on their race, let alone use crude and hurtful racial epithets. It is even more unacceptable that the parents of such children bring them up to think there is nothing wrong with racial stereotyping. And it is unacceptable that parents organise "private" parties to which admission in a community such as Brackenfell is restricted by affordability. 

Nearly 30 years after the structures of the National Peace Accord negotiated a framework for the holding of protests, it is also unacceptable that leaders of political organisations and government agencies do not appear able to agree on conditions which allow for peaceful, controlled protest which respects the rights of others and the well-being of children. 

Dialogue is not an optional extra in South Africa, but an urgent imperative if we are to move into a non-racial future.

Daily Reflections on Eucharist readings - Nov 23-27

 These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Copies of audio and video files are available for sharing

Monday, 16 November 2020

Ad Laos - to the People of God - November 2020

Dear People of God 

As President Ramaphosa gave South Africans a timely warning last week to remain alert and prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus during the Christmas holiday season, I was at the same time reminded by the themes of hope and joy in Psalm 145 that we also need to look to the future beyond the pandemic. 

Yes, it is true that Covid-19 infections are increasing in a number of areas, especially the Eastern Cape. And as other issues reduce the dominance of reporting on the virus on our TV screens and radio channels, we need to remember it is real and in our communities. We must please keep up the distancing, we must maintain health protocols, wear our masks and pray for equitable access to vaccines once they become available. 

Yet I want to repeat what I said a couple of years ago – that social scientists caution us against too much focus on crisis, negativity and fear, since they can easily beget the very outcomes we seek to avoid. Both hope and joy are twinned in Psalm 145, and perhaps a good way to stare the pandemic in the face and ensure we flatten the curve is not to deny its impact, not to deny the science, but to look to a future promised by a God who has always, and will always, provide for our sustenance, even into that future. 

In remaining hopeful, we need not discount the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the poor, who have in the main been those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. We must continue to intervene with relief measures even as we find ways of living joyfully and hopefully in the midst of the challenges we face: the emotional stress, the anxiety, the fatigue and the uncertainty. Looking back at the 234 days of lockdown, when last did you smile and laugh or talk about things such as care for others and for the environment? 

There have been some differences in the way dioceses are dealing with singing hymns during worship. Our legal experts tell us us that there is some uncertainty in the law, so our advice is either not to allow congregations to sing, or to allow them to sing only wearing masks, observing the 1.5 metre distance rule and keeping to the legal limits on the number of worshippers. My advice is: If in doubt err on the side of safety, especially if older congregants insist on coming to church. 

In recent weeks we have held innovative meetings on Microsoft Teams to take the steps required by Canon 4 to fill episcopal vacancies. I am happy to report that candidates have been nominated and I will make their names known soon. We are looking beyond the time of closed doors at how we can put episcopal leadership in the vacant dioceses to continue God’s mission in the world through God’s church. 

Also in recent weeks, 37 of the 41 Primates of the Anglican Communion – the heads of the churches across the world, including those in Africa – have met online [Communique - PDF] to reflect on the impact of coronavirus at the Communion level and to receive an update on the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and their spouses in 2022. We welcomed plans for an 18-month process leading up to Lambeth which will be an ongoing “virtual” Anglican Congress, drawing in bishops and their spouses, young and old, lay and ordained, ahead of the face-to-face conference. 

Discussing the work of the Communion’s Safe Church Commission, we re-committed ourselves to making the Church a safer place for all those who are vulnerable. We also heard stories of the impact of Covid-19 across the Communion and of new Provinces, the restructuring of the Anglican Communion Office in London and of the establishment of an Anglican Communion Science Commission, which will deal with matters of science and faith. We were addressed by senior World Health Organisation officials on Covid-19 and progress on a vaccine. The Archbishop of York, Dr Stephen Cottrell, briefed us on Living in Love and Faith, a new teaching resource from the Church of England designed to help discuss issues of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in a biblical context. 

Turning back to our own Province, we have declared the youth and Theological Education Sunday as priorities of our church, but declarations alone – important as they are – are no substitute for action. The parish is the basic unit of any diocese and of the Province, and as such we rely on you in the parishes to take such broad and general declarations and translate them into concrete action applicable to your own circumstances. 

Please pray for our sisters and brothers in northern Mozambique, where more than 50 people have been reported beheaded in a vicious attack by militants on a village in Cabo Delgado province. We urge Mozambique's government to act firmly to root out this form of terrorism, and for the international community to devote as much attention to this conflict as to others in the world. On a more positive note for ACSA, Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports good progress in setting up working committees to plan for new dioceses in Tete and the PĂșngue River area. 

Lastly, following a decision of the Provincial Standing Committee, I am declaring through this Ad Laos that Lent 2021 will focus on combatting gender-based violence (GBV). The liaison bishop on GBV, Bishop Margaret Vertue, Hope Africa, the Provincial Liturgical Committee, the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission and their teams will provide us with more details and the necessary liturgies and study materials. A guide to some resources follows to help you devise contextually relevant material for your parishes and dioceses, and I commend to you the full PSC resolution on GBV for your prayers and action. 

God bless you. 

† Thabo Cape Town


Guide to resources: https://anglicanchurchsa.org/16-days-of-activism-resources/


Sunday, 15 November 2020

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Tribute to South African Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu

Issued by Archbishop Thabo on November 12, 2020:

“A great ethical, principled and courageous moral leader has died. Outgoing Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu's service to South Africa is unparalleled in its commitment to the values of good governance and his determination to make the country accountable for public spending.

“It is a great pity that despite his and his staff's work, the number of qualified audits remains so high, and that so much money is wasted on expenditure which does not serve the common good. I call on all South Africans, and especially those running municipalities, to commit to serving all of our citizens with integrity.

“Kimi Makwetu addressed Anglican formal events and our Synod of Bishops on a number of occasions and always pressed home the importance of honesty, integrity and courage. We will miss him and send our condolences to his family and loved ones.”

November 12, 2020

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Monday, 2 November 2020

Monday, 26 October 2020

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Archbishop announces ACSA 150th anniversary appeal - Ad Laos - to the People of God

Dear People of God

The top deliberative body of our church in Southern Africa between our three-yearly Provincial Synods is the Provincial Standing Committee (PSC), which meets annually at the end of September. This year’s meeting was unique for two reasons: firstly as a consequence of the coronavirus we had to hold it virtually, with more than 100 people linked up on video screens from diocesan hubs as far away as Angola and northern Mozambique; and secondly in 2020 we are celebrating the inauguration of the Province in 1870.

Our 150th anniversary is indeed a momentous milestone, and as we look back over the decades we can see that what has been achieved is nothing short of God-inspired. From the five founding dioceses of the Province – those of Cape Town, Grahamstown, Natal, Saint Helena and Bloemfontein (now Free State) – we have grown to 29, covering not only South Africa but Angola, eSwatini (Swaziland) Lesotho, Namibia and Mozambique. We have touched the lives of countless people from all walks of life and played a pivotal role in the shaping of our respective societies through the leadership and sacrifices made by many Anglicans. And in an exciting development which we heard about at PSC, the existing four dioceses in Mozambique and Angola plan to multiply into 12 and, in time, to form their own Province with Portuguese as their lingua franca.

To celebrate both our history and our present reality, I am launching a Sesquicentennial Campaign to raise funds to digitise our church records and archives. Over the past century-and-a-half we have generated immense quantities of written and printed material, from liturgies and records of celebrations to St Helena’s parish baptism registers dating to 1680, to letters from David Livingstone and James Calata, to Charles Johnson’s letterbooks from Zululand, to the angry letters of Desmond Tutu to P W Botha in the 1980s, to documents on the clash that Archbishop Njongo had with Madiba in the late 1990s. Wits University, which has kept our archives for more than 80 years, is running out of space; not only that, but numbers of our parishes and dioceses are now keeping only electronic records, necessitating a complete overhaul of our archival systems.

The aim is that this Campaign will become an ever-evolving record of the life of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, an easily-accessible resource for researchers and Anglican lay people and one which enhances the theological formation of our clergy. Please support this campaign with your prayers and financial contributions.

Diocesan representatives brought a diverse and encouraging range of issues to PSC: poverty and inequality; “Building Back Better” after COVID-19; gender-based violence and the patriarchy that underlies it; the integrity of the environment; the evil of racism which lives on in some of our schools; and domestic matters such as the need to hold “virtual” elective assemblies online to fill episcopal vacancies in the dioceses of Kimberley & Kuruman, Lesotho, Natal and Zululand.

You can read more detail in the news section of the Provincial website but at the heart of all our efforts is the need to move our church from maintenance to mission, for our ecclesiology is sound and relevant only if it is missiological. Mission is about people and where we live and move and have our being. Hence we must care not only for human life but for the whole of God’s creation, not as an optional extra but as a focus essential to the future of human life on our planet. As we end the Season of Creation, have you used the season to give back to future generations?

One way of contributing to the mission of the Church is to invest in the theological formation of all our people, from infants at baptism to the elderly in their last years. Anglicans Ablaze this year played its missional and teaching role online and the College of the Transfiguration (Cott) does it for ordinands. Please remember to give generously on Theological Sunday to the work and ministry of Cott.

Also commit to your own theological nurture, reading and discussing scripture to understand current concerns about the effects of patriarchy in church and society, and doing your part in naming it and rooting it out. Ask your clergy to help you with resources such as contextual Bible studies.

Let us also pay heed to what Pope Francis says in his new encyclical, in which he warns us that the “magic theories” associated with what he calls the “dogma of neoliberal faith” is not resolving the inequality which is threatening the fabric of societies in many parts of the planet. What steps might you and your parish, as individuals and families, take towards transforming elements of our local economies which annihilate instead of nurturing abundant life?

Finally, a very happy birthday to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond, who as I write turns 89, and to Mama Leah, who also has a birthday in a few days. I pray with him regularly, and I know he also prays for you.

God bless

†Thabo Cape Town


Monday, 21 September 2020

Celebrating 150 years of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's introduction at a Service of Solemn Evensong, held at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, with St George's, Parktown, on Sunday September 20, 2020. The sermon preached by Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury follows the introduction. 

What a milestone, what an occasion! We celebrate today 150 years of faithful, worship, witness and service as Anglicans in Southern Africa. 

I want to make special mention today of my predecessors as Archbishop and to our clergy and people down the last century-and-a-half – remembering in particular the two living Archbishops, Njongonkulu Ndungane and Desmond Tutu. We remember Archbishop Njongo for his powerful witness against poverty, and his fierce independence from secular power. We remember Archbishop Desmond for his courage, his powerful witness against oppression and injustice everywhere, and for reconciliation based on justice for all. 

Almost all of our forebears knew the importance of the ecumenical family, represented today by our partnership in this service with the South African Council of Churches. We are better Anglicans if we belong to the ecumenical family and the wider household of faith. Thank you very much to the SACC and to the Solidarity Fund for making possible both this service and the other denominational and interfaith services to follow in the coming weeks. 

We are privileged to partner with them both with the aim also of uplifting people's spirits in the time of the coronavirus, of inspiring the nation's courage in moments of darkness and of enlivening hope for the future for all our people. We are here to say thank God for God’s mercies and protection. Many have died during this time of COVID-19, and we are here to celebrate their lives and to recharge our resolve to do everything possible to wear our masks, observe health protocols, practise social distancing, wear personal protective equipment and encourage others to do so also. We also give thanks for the health workers and scientists, and pray for a vaccine and changes in behaviour which will keep people safe. 

Finally, our warm thanks to the Chair of the Solidarity Fund, Dr Gloria Serobe, and your team, to Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana and the the SACC team, to the Anglican and SABC teams here in Cape Town and in Parktown, Johannesburg – have a blessed day.

 President Cyril Ramaphosa’s message to us aptly sums up the essence of today: 

MESSAGE TO ANGLICAN COMMUNITY ON COMMEMORATION OF 150 YEARS OF FAITHFUL WORSHIP FROM PRESIDENT MATAMELA CYRIL RAMAPHOSA 

I extend heartfelt congratulations to the Anglican community in Southern Africa as they celebrate 150 years of faithful worship, witness and ministry in our country. 

Today they lead and open a series of interfaith services arranged by the South African Council of Churches and Solidarity Fund aimed at inspiring hope, gratitude and courage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has in our communities. 

 I wish you all well, and hope to join you in one of your future services. 

Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa 
President of the Republic of South Africa


Reflections on weekday readings from Archbishop Thabo - Sept 21-25

  These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Copies of audio and video files are available for sharing


Saturday, 12 September 2020

Tribute to George Bizos SC, Madiba's friend and lawyer

Another giant of our struggle for freedom and a pillar of a non-racial vision for South African has fallen. George Bizos was a man who loved and lived social justice in our country. I met him at a couple of functions, but the most memorable was at Madiba's home at Qunu in the Eastern Cape, when he, Lungi and I arrived together for Madiba’s funeral and, finding the front door locked to visitors, entered the Mandela home together through the kitchen; we were sternly rebuked but were nonetheless welcomed.

George was a man who knew, smelt and touched township and village alike with his soul and the hands of his love. My family, the Church and I send his family, friends and faith community our condolences. His death calls on us to dedicate ourselves to non-racialism, equality, fairness and an economy with particular eyes for the poorest township and village. We will miss his tears and warm heart for all of humanity. 

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Three Biblically-based Challenges to Corruption

 A message for the launch of the SACC Churches' Anti-Corruption Campaign in South Africa on Sunday August 30: 

Having called for 2020 to be the Year of the Orange Jumpsuit, I am pleased and privileged to add my voice to this service of lament and protest and to support September as a month of church action against corruption. 

I have wept. I have agonized. 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. Corruption, as I said in a message to South Africa's president a few days ago, is annihilating the very lives of the poorest of the poor. It is as if the corrupt big-wigs – those people who joined the party only to enrich themselves – have declared genocide against the poor. Like the scribes and Pharisees who Jesus called out in Matthew's Gospel, they are hypocrites; they are thieves, and they must return the stolen treasures of the poor. 

As I have thought and prayed and agonized, my heart has often returned to that sobering story in 2 Samuel 12, where you will recall the prophet Nathan confronts, directly and unambiguously, the mighty David. I have three direct Biblically-based challenges that I ask you to open your hearts to.

When David reacted with shock and disgust to the theft of the lamb from the poor man, Nathan said: “It is you.” No wriggle room, no excuses, no pussyfooting around the fact of theft. It is you! I say the same to those accused of theft and corruption and deceit and of impoverishing the already poor. It is you! As with David, so it is with you. There is no wriggle room. Let me say categorically: it is not enough to take special leave, to stand aside or to disappear onto the side-lines unscathed, your crimes covered up. No, it is you! It is you!

Secondly, Nathan says to David, “I have anointed you the king of Israel and taken you out from under the hand of Saul.” We know what it took to bring this country out from under the hands of many Sauls – that proud and incredibly noble history, under the hand of God over the long years of struggle, in the harsh conditions of prisons and torture chambers across our country, in the lonely years of exile. We recognize and have saluted it over and over again. But let me repeat this very categorically. It is precisely that noble history, those sacrifices, the courage of the foot soldiers, that makes the betrayal and lies of so many of your leaders and those connected to the systems of patronage so much more despicable, so much more reprehensible. We raise the question which Nathan raised, and we ask it as he did, “Why did you despise the Word of the Lord and do evil?”

Please hear my last word, spoken with all the desperation I can muster. Verse 13 says: “David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.'” I beg you who stand accused, you who are still hiding, who are trying to wriggle out of your sin and complicity; with a pastor's heart I beg of you: repeat the words of David! Acknowledge your corruption and your collusion. Repent of your wrongdoing, return the monies you have stolen, step down from your positions no matter how high or low they are. It is you who we need to hear from.

If today I speak to you because you are currently in the dock, know that tomorrow I will talk to others. I will talk to those in business who rob the poor, I will speak to other political parties, for indeed, corruption is an insidious virus. I will talk to the churches, to my church, and the faith communities who have also often trampled on the poor and ignored the cries of those on the margins. But today is the day I choose to talk to you and, with you, to pray that God will bless our country, guide her rulers, guard her people, and establish her in justice and peace.

A call to transparency

To hold the corrupt to account, we need urgently to transform our corruption-fighting agencies, both by urgently cleaning out and strengthening existing agencies, and adding a Chapter 9 institution to fight corruption which is independent of the control of the Executive. Such a body needs a toll-free number to enable whistle-blowers to report corruption, and we need more robust protection for those whistle-blowers. We have seen too much interference with the investigative and prosecution arms of government over the past two decades to depend only on the Executive to ensure justice. 

However, ending corruption in our land does not only involve bringing corrupt individuals to justice – but we must also end the dependence of political parties and their leaders on donations from the rich and the powerful. This fundraising practice roots the crisis in the structures of political parties, so we must also overhaul the system of financing parties. As a means of curbing corruption, I call on President Ramaphosa to bring into effect legislation that will regulate fundraising for political parties. 

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. 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. 

Finally, let us draw inspiration from the successes we have achieved in keeping up with ministry and worship during the coronavirus lockdown and follow it up by working to change our economic and governance models to bring about equality and the flourishing of all. 

The Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba

Monday, 31 August 2020

Reflections on weekday readings from Archbishop Thabo - Aug 31-Sept 4, 2020

 These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Copies of audio and video files are available for sharing


Transform our corruption-fighting agencies!

 The Archbishop's contributon to an SACC Anti-Corruption Service held on Sunday August 30 to launch the SACC Churches' Anti-Corruption Campaign:

Having called for 2020 to be the Year of the Orange Jumpsuit, I am pleased and privileged to add my voice to this service of lament and protest and to support September as a month of church action against corruption. 

I have wept. I have agonized. 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. Corruption, as I said in a message to South Africa's president a few days ago, is annihilating the very lives of the poorest of the poor. It is as if the corrupt big-wigs – those people who joined the party only to enrich themselves – have declared genocide against the poor. Like the scribes and Pharisees who Jesus called out in Matthew's Gospel, they are hypocrites; they are thieves, and they must return the stolen treasures of the poor. 

As I have thought and prayed and agonized, my heart has often returned to that sobering story in 2 Samuel 12, where you will recall the prophet Nathan confronts, directly and unambiguously, the mighty David. I have three direct Biblically-based challenges that I ask you to open your hearts to.

When David reacted with shock and disgust to the theft of the lamb from the poor man, Nathan said: “It is you.” No wriggle room, no excuses, no pussyfooting around the fact of theft. It is you! I say the same to those accused of theft and corruption and deceit and of impoverishing the already poor. It is you! As with David, so it is with you. There is no wriggle room. Let me say categorically: it is not enough to take special leave, to stand aside or to disappear onto the side-lines unscathed, your crimes covered up. No, it is you! It is you!

Secondly, Nathan says to David, “I have anointed you the king of Israel and taken you out from under the hand of Saul.” We know what it took to bring this country out from under the hands of many Sauls – that proud and incredibly noble history, under the hand of God over the long years of struggle, in the harsh conditions of prisons and torture chambers across our country, in the lonely years of exile. We recognize and have saluted it over and over again. But let me repeat this very categorically. It is precisely that noble history, those sacrifices, the courage of the foot soldiers, that makes the betrayal and lies of so many of your leaders and those connected to the systems of patronage so much more despicable, so much more reprehensible. We raise the question which Nathan raised, and we ask it as he did, “Why did you despise the Word of the Lord and do evil?”

Please hear my last word, spoken with all the desperation I can muster. Verse 13 says: “David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.'” I beg you who stand accused, you who are still hiding, who are trying to wriggle out of your sin and complicity; with a pastor's heart I beg of you: repeat the words of David! Acknowledge your corruption and your collusion. Repent of your wrongdoing, return the monies you have stolen, step down from your positions no matter how high or low they are. It is you who we need to hear from.

If today I speak to you because you are currently in the dock, know that tomorrow I will talk to others. I will talk to those in business who rob the poor, I will speak to other political parties, for indeed, corruption is an insidious virus. I will talk to the churches, to my church, and the faith communities who have also often trampled on the poor and ignored the cries of those on the margins. But today is the day I choose to talk to you and, with you, to pray that God will bless our country, guide her rulers, guard her people, and establish her in justice and peace.

A call to transparency

To hold the corrupt to account, we need urgently to transform our corruption-fighting agencies, both by urgently cleaning out and strengthening existing agencies, and adding a Chapter 9 institution to fight corruption which is independent of the control of the Executive. Such a body needs a toll-free number to enable whistle-blowers to report corruption, and we need more robust protection for those whistle-blowers. We have seen too much interference with the investigative and prosecution arms of government over the past two decades to depend only on the Executive to ensure justice. 

However, ending corruption in our land does not only involve bringing corrupt individuals to justice – but we must also end the dependence of political parties and their leaders on donations from the rich and the powerful. This fundraising practice roots the crisis in the structures of political parties, so we must also overhaul the system of financing parties. As a means of curbing corruption, I call on President Ramaphosa to bring into effect legislation that will regulate fundraising for political parties. 

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. 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. 

Finally, let us draw inspiration from the successes we have achieved in keeping up with ministry and worship during the coronavirus lockdown and follow it up by working to change our economic and governance models to bring about equality and the flourishing of all. 

The Most Revd Dr. Thabo Makgoba

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

August 30, 2020




Thursday, 27 August 2020

ANC's 'corrupt bigwigs' must return 'stolen treasures' – Archbishop Thabo

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that “hypocrites” and “thieves” in the ANC return what they have stolen from the public and be sent to jail. 

He made the call in a message recorded to support a new anti-corruption campaign launched by the SA Council of Churches, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights and the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution. 

Representatives of the organisations met the ANC's “top six”, headed by President Ramaphosa, on Monday, where they said that “the governing party leadership appears compromised within itself.” They added: "There comes a time when the moral depravity of some in positions of authority, and in the private sector, undermine the very notion of nationhood and the underlying value of public service. We are compelled to assert: This is not how we shall be known as a nation. We refuse to allow corrupt networks in different provinces to go about their criminal activity, trampling on the rights of honest and law-abiding people.” 

Addressing President Ramaphosa a video and audio message, Archbishop Makgoba said: 

“Mr President:

“In the Book of Kings in the Old Testament, God tells Elijah to leave the cave to which he has retreated, and to engage with the world. Similarly today, God compels us as the Church to come out of our sanctuaries and to speak out about the conditions that afflict our people. If we don't, then as Jesus says in Luke's Gospel, the very stones will cry out. 

“Today, Mr President, our hearts, our souls, our bodies and our minds are consumed with the national crisis that faces South Africa. The public's money, life-saving money that is meant to provide oxygen to the breathless poor in the midst of a pandemic, has been misappropriated, stolen in brazen defiance of the commandment in the Book of Exodus which enjoins each of us: Thou shalt not steal. 

“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. 'Ha bana letswalo, Mr President, ba feteletse.' They are, like the scribes and Pharisees Jesus called out in Matthew's Gospel, hypocrites. 

“At this time in the history of our country, we must draw a line in the sand and say anew: Thus says the Lord, on whom our hope is founded, the hypocrites and the thieves must return the stolen treasures of the poor, and they must be dispatched to jail, where they must wear orange jumpsuits.”

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Archbishop hopes Church will declare GBV "evil"

 Amid the Covid-19 lockdown this National Women's Day in South Africa, gender-based violence has become a “second pandemic” as serious as the coronavirus, in the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The South African Council of Churches has responded by launching a process to guide and train church leaders to address the crisis, and the St Bernard Mizeki Men's Guild in the Diocese of Cape Town has marked Women's Day by marching to the Provincial Government to show their  commitment to hold themselves, the Church and the broader community accountable. 

As ACSA, we lament the incidence of this violence and we recommit ourselves to just, fair and transparent processes to root it out. We recommit to celebrating and respecting women, as we are called to do by the example Jesus set in his interactions with women. We hope and pray that our Synods and PSC will declare gender-based violence as evil and contrary to the will of the One who calls us and promises us lives of fullness.

To the women of the Province and the world, we will walk alongside you as we change the policies of Church and State to reflect our commitments. The road will be painful as we search for the life-transforming truth of Christ, but we shall overcome and will celebrate with you when together we end this scourge. To all the women of our church, we wish you a blessed Women's Day. 

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Weekday Reflections by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - August 3-7, 2020

These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.


Friday, 7 August 2020

A message to the people of Lebanon

We send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the people of Beirut after the explosion in the city's port on Tuesday. We have our own corruption and mismanagement to fight, but we are all part of the human family. In the interests of the families of the injured and the dead, we must speak the truth and condemn the inaction of the Lebanese authorities which led to the disaster.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba 


Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu loses his sister, Sylvia

On behalf of the Province, I have sent our heartfelt condolences to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and the Morrison family on the death of his older sister, Sylvia Morrison. 

Please soak Archbishop Desmond and his family in prayer. He and Mama Leah have permission to drive to Johannesburg to be with the Morrison family - please pray for travelling mercies and that they will keep safe and healthy on their travels. We commend them to the love and pastoral care of the Diocese of Johannesburg. 

When I called Archbishop Desmond today, he said Sylvia had a "good innings" of more than 90 years. We are grateful for Sylvia's life, and may she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Monday, 3 August 2020

To the Laos - Daily Reflections on Eucharist Readings - COVID-19 - Patriarchy in the Church

Dear People of God

As someone who has benefitted from the reflections of others on the daily Eucharist readings, I plan – beginning this week – to issue a thought for each week day from lockdown in Bishopscourt. You will find the first one here and at the end of this post. I hope you will find them useful.

Five months into the coronavirus pandemic, most parishes and dioceses across the Province are still in preparation mode for the return to worship – only the Diocese of Khahlamba in the northern part of South Africa's Eastern Cape province has indicated that it plans to open churches, which it will do next Sunday, August 7.

The protocols that must be observed before you can return to church are strict. Most countries in the Province do not allow congregations of more than 50, and we advise the elderly not to come back to worship at all at this stage. (As a reminder of the stringent conditions, see pages 3-8 of the South African Council of Churches' guide, to which we contributed.) 

Since I last wrote, some of our clergy, their spouses, and a number of our parishioners have died of complications related to COVID-19. Please pray for their families as they mourn, and that those who have died will rest in peace and rise in glory. 

We are going to have to learn to live with the coronavirus, and possibly with a second wave of infections, at least until a vaccine is available for all in our region. This means we have to change our behaviours, especially those involving physical contact with others, and also to keep hope alive – especially since scientists are reporting good results with vaccine trials so far. The “virtual worship” initiatives which most of you have adopted, offering services via Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and the like, are admirable, and essential in this time, but they can never replace in-person worship.

At a Communion level, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury has launched The Together in Unity Appeal to raise funds to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our world-wide church. Speaking during the week in which the Lambeth Conference was due to get under way, he has encouraged dioceses and parishes to support one another during the pandemic. Last week, I appeared on the BBC World Service to support the initiative and to talk about our experience in Southern Africa. (You can view the interview below my reflection at the end of this post.)

At least for the present – and in some areas of our life into the future – the coronavirus is changing how we do church. On September 1, the day on which we commemorate our Church's founder, Bishop Robert Gray, we will consecrate the new Bishop of Table Bay, Joshua Louw, in St George's Cathedral in Cape Town. In line with lockdown regulations, we will limit attendance to 50, which means only Bishop-elect Joshua's family and diocesan office-holders are likely to be present. 

In another step necessitated by the virus, we will consider at Provincial Standing Committee (PSC) a motion dealing with how we can amend our canons to hold elective assemblies for new bishops in the current environment. This is an urgent need, since the pandemic has already forced us to put on hold elections for the dioceses of Kimberley & Kuruman, Lesotho, Natal and Zululand.  Canon 22 stipulates that the Metropolitan is diocesan in such vacant dioceses, although a vicar-general is appointed. You can all imagine my wish and prayers for this particular motion to be passed.

Both the September Synod of Bishops meeting and PSC will be held virtually. Members of PSC will gather at diocesan hubs, with each diocese connected online to Bishopscourt. Other matters on the agenda include plans for establishing a new Southern-Central African Lusapho Province (comprising our dioceses in Angola and Mozambique) and reports from the Archbishop’s Commission on the election of women as leaders in the Church and from the Anglican Safe and Inclusive Church Commission.

Recently I joined an online meeting with a group of eight women to discuss a statement they had drawn up on patriarchy in the Church and the gender-based violence it generates. Although there was some criticism for engaging with a self-selecting group, mostly from Cape Town, I was happy to join the debate on how the Church, in the words of their statement, can “strive for the Kin-dom of God, where justice for women is restored” and for “a new, beloved community where all humans are affirmed as image bearers of the living God.” 

As it turned out, my exhortation that the way to achieve change in the Church is to work through those structures which can adopt and implement change was underlined afterwards by reactions from around the Province calling for a more inclusive, thorough-going approach. I urge all women – including those unhappy about not being included in the dialogue with me – to take up issues in their parish, diocesan and provincial structures. 

For instance, questions of language and liturgy are best worked through with the Liturgical Commission; theological matters with the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission; canon law with the Canon Law Commission; issues relating to women's leadership with the Archbishop's Commission on the election of women; theological education and doctrinal matters with coordinators of theological education and the relevant diocesan and provincial structures; gender-based violence with Safe and Inclusive Church; and wider gender issues with the Provincial Gender Desk. 

Since men do not suffer the lived experience of patriarchy, we need more women as leaders in the Church. As I told Provincial Synod last year, I am very concerned that we have only two woman bishops in the Province. Hence the decision to appoint a commission to make recommendations to address the problem. But we need to go beyond the episcopate – perhaps we need to legislate that there ought to be 50 percent representation of women among lay representatives at all levels of church leadership? 

We also need to make our language more inclusive. The use of the phrase “Father” in English has long been challenged for promoting patriarchy and male headship in the Church (apart from sitting uncomfortably with those in our more evangelical parishes). The problem is not as acute in the languages spoken by most of our members – at Bishopscourt, the rule has long been to address all clergy as “Moruti”, which is not gender-specific. In the Episcopal Church in the USA, numbers of parishes call their priests “Mother” – but what is your experience, and how would you suggest we address woman priests? I am comfortable with Thabo, but “Arch” is beautiful. Some call me variously Moruti, Solufefe, Mobabatsehi, Sua Graca or Aartsbiskop, but Olga Kgoroeadira will never stop calling me Father Thabo!  

In this Month of Compassion – and Women's Month in South Africa – I invite all of us to orient ourselves to the experiences and plight of women, and to shine a spotlight on those behaviours that are life-transforming for us all.

God bless.

†† Thabo Cape Town




Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Statement on the death of Andrew Mlangeni

The sad loss of Andrew Mlangeni marks not only the passing of a generation prepared to lay down their lives for justice and freedom, but of a leader who continued to model ethical, values-based leadership in the interests of the poor.

Our society owes an inestimable debt to the Rivonia generation, and we owe it to the memory of Baba Mlangeni and his comrades to recover their values and work not for our own personal gain but instead pursue the common good.

I will miss seeing and warmly interacting with Baba at the annual State of the Nation address.

We send our condolences and those of the wider Anglican Church to his family. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Condolences to the family of Zindzi Mandela

On my own behalf and on behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, we send our condolences to the family of Ambassador Zindzi Mandela upon her untimely death.

She was one of the icons of our struggle and I personally recall her appearance at Jabulani Stadium in 1985 when, during a celebration of Archbishop Tutu's Nobel Peace Prize, she memorably delivered a message from Madiba in prison in which he refused an offer of conditional release and declared "I shall return".

Our prayers ascend for her and her family, including her "second mother", Graca Machel, and we pray that they may experience God's consolation in their sad loss.     

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Challenges of COVID-19, Gender-Based Violence and Conflict in Mozambique & the Holy Land - To the Laos, the People of God

Dear People of God


More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, we are beset by ever-changing challenges as governments ease lockdowns to help save jobs and the economy, while at the same time the incidence of COVID-19 cases is rising in parts of our church Province.

Since I issued my Pentecost letter, hardly two days go by without reports of people known by name in the Church dying, being hospitalised or going into quarantine after being tested positive – parishioners, clergy, clergy spouses, bishops and their families. As I write, the number of cases in South Africa alone has exceeded 160,000, with the number of deaths heading towards 3,000. As Bishop Brian Marajh of George says in an Ad Clerum, “These numbers are no longer just statistics made up of numbers, the numbers have faces, and it is persons known to us or to others that are close to us.”

The financial implications of the pandemic are also afflicting the church, notably bringing about the sudden closure of the Bishop Bavin School in Bedfordview, Gauteng. The school, founded in 1991, was having difficulties already when the pandemic and lockdown hit us, putting paid to efforts by the school and the Diocese of Johannesburg to rescue it.

At a time such as this we are all called upon to be leaders, helping guide our congregations and our communities to make decisions which both keep them safe and allow them to live their lives as normally as possible. But with changes coming so fast, we don't always know in advance what we will be called to make decisions about. Asked at a recent webinar hosted by the Gandhi Development Trust about leading in times of crisis, I emphasised the importance of how we make decisions in disruptive times: approach problems with an open mind; hold firm to your values but be flexible on the policies and actions you adopt; listen to experts with differing opinions; follow the data and the science; seek to find a consensus response; and then communicate your course of action early and often. I repeated this call in an address to the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business.

Most important, in the Church we should strike a note of hope as we steer our way through the pandemic: hope in facing the challenges with eyes of love, sensibility and as much certainty as we can. We need to be asking, who is my neighbour and how do I care for her or his welfare? What can I do to alleviate hunger? How can I help those in quarantine? And we must be disciplined about wearing masks outside the home, observing distancing and generally behaving as Christians with loving hearts, acting lovingly towards others.

I have written before of the shocking occurrences of gender-based violence during lockdown, not only here but across the world. In an important initiative, the authorities in South Africa want to create a National Council for Gender-Based Violence and Femicide which would have as its objective "amplifying the national response to GBV" by building "a strengthened, survivor-focused, resourced and coordinated strategic response" to the problem. Such developments challenge us: what is our response as a Church to the problem, which affects us also? Please pray for the Sithole family in the Diocese of Natal, where Mrs Nomthandazo Cynthia Sithole, the wife of the Revd Sandiso Sithole, Rector of St James Parish, Tongaat, died tragically recently. (Since writing this has come the tragic news that Father Sithole was shot and killed overnight.)

Pray also for the Revd June Major, formerly a priest in the Diocese of Cape Town, who at the time of writing was camping and on a hunger strike outside the gates of Bishopscourt after alleging that she was sexually abused in 2002. Our Canons, Pastoral Standards and the Charter for Safe and Inclusive Church now lay a firm basis for dealing effectively with allegations of abuse – you can find full details here: https://anglicanchurchsa.org/safe-church-guide/ (Also since writing this, we have issued this statement.

Please pray for the people of northern Mozambique, and especially the Diocese of Nampula, where an insurgency that has grown in recent months and years is bringing terror to people's lives. Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports that last weekend the town of Mocimboa da Praia, in the province of Cabo Delgado, was invaded and 30 people were butchered, and their bodies set on fire with petrol from motorcycles in the town. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and Bishop Manuel Ernesto is living in fear.

Pray too for the people of Palestine and Israel, where the Israeli prime minister is threatening to annex the West Bank. Already the establishment of Jewish settlements there has undermined the viability of the long-promoted two-state solution (one supported by the Lambeth Conference) to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land. Annexation would finally put paid to it.

God bless.

† Thabo Cape Town