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: 


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