Tuesday 29 June 2021

On Mr Zuma going to prison - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

President Zuma visits Bishopscourt in 2009.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has pledged to visit former South African President Jacob Zuma in prison. 

The Archbishop said this in a statement issued in response to the Constitutional Court judgement jailing Mr Zuma for 15 months for refusing to obey a court order to appear before a commission of inquiry into high-level government and private sector corruption. 

The full text of Archbishop Makgoba's statement follows: 

“I had prayed that we would not get to the point at which Mr Zuma was jailed for contempt. 

“But it is to the credit of our democracy that the judiciary and institutions of accountability remain strong in the face of pressure. They are a source of reassurance and hope that all that we have struggled for has not been lost in this last period, years which the locusts have devoured. We remain a resilient democracy.

“The Court has done what it is mandated to do and that is to uphold the Constitution and its values without fear or favour. This is also a moment to pledge to continue to strengthen and respect these institutions, as they represent the best of our humanity and our social convictions as democrats and artisans of justice. 

“South Africa is built on a strong constitutional foundation and this judgement needs to be seen in that light. It needs to be stressed again and again that it is the Rule of Law that is paramount. That  includes the principle that no one is above the law.  We all need to respect the Rule of Law, its principles and the organs of our society that give expression to it. 

“To those who are inclined to push back against this judgement, to those who have been preparing the ground by denouncing the judiciary, I urge them:  do not go this route. Instead devote your energy to supporting campaigns to popularise our Constitution, to broaden education around the basic tenets of democracy and to engage in activities that offer hope for the future. 

“Jesus asked, 'When I was in prison, did you visit me?' As a pastor, my heart is heavy over Mr Zuma going to prison. I will pray for him and, when apt, I will ask to visit him.” 

Sunday 27 June 2021

Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Natal

 21st June 2021

Pastoral Letter to the Diocesan Family of Natal

Dear People of God,

Greetings to each of you in the name of our Lord.

I began this Ad Laos on the feast day of St Barnabas, who in Acts 4 is called “Son of Encouragement”, in order to encourage you as you discern the way forward for the Diocese. I also wanted to follow up on my Pentecost Pastoral Letter inviting you “to be courageous, to trust God” and to examine the relevance of your structures for today with a view to moving the Diocese from maintenance to mission.

Since that letter, Chapter has prayerfully reflected on the challenge and has expressed its mind. Last week I had an enriching encounter with the Diocesan Trustees, during which I presented to them the request to consider multiplying the Diocese. The invitation was issued in humility, acknowledging the wrestlings of the past and the uncertainties of the present, including Covid-19, but asking them to have faith in the Lord of the Church in taking this step.

After robust and thoughtful responses, the Trustees unanimously agreed in principle to the multiplication of the Diocese of Natal. They also agreed that the Archbishop as Diocesan should begin the process set out in Canon 21. This entails presenting the case to Synod of Bishops in September 2021, and consulting Provincial Synod thereafter. Following these consultations, a Provincial Task Team will begin a further process of consultation and evaluation of the feasibility of such a development.

The good news is that the Trustees recalled that the exercise has been done in the past, that there are records of its work and that we can revive a Diocesan “multiplication team” to work with the Diocese and Province. We experienced some anxiety, but also excitement and a sense that this is a Kairos moment in which we can trust God to carry us forward.

Please pray on the matter, engage others and share your thoughts with me or the Diocesan Secretary as we commit to this act of faith. When you read this, the Dean (acting as Vicar-General) will be on well-deserved leave for a month. I am so grateful for the leadership, friendship and love of this church which he provides, at times to the point of forgetting to take a break. Enjoy your break, Vicar-General!

In the meantime, I have appointed Canon Belina Mangena as Acting Vicar-General. Please pray and support her as she leads the Diocese from the North over this time.

Please also take special care of yourselves during this third wave of Covid-19. In our Province of Southern Africa, we have lost many parishioners and clergy, as well as the Bishop of Swaziland.

Lastly, I have summoned the Bishops of the Province to gather virtually on 9th July 2021 for an Elective Assembly of the Diocese of Natal. Please pray that we may discern well and that God will send us a faithful servant even in the midst of the multiplication of this huge and precious diocese.

Do not fear: over the past 31 years, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has created six new dioceses, and we are about to birth a new Province in the form of the Igreja Anglicana de Moçambique e Angola (IAMA)!

Let us renew, reimagine and rebuild!

God bless you.

++Thabo Cape Town

Saturday 26 June 2021

Message for the Memorial Service for Bishop John Osmers

Message for the Memorial Service for Bishop John Osmers in Christchurch Transitional Cathedral on Saturday, June 26. Bishop Osmers, born a New Zealander, died aged 86 of Covid complications in Lusaka on June 16. During the liberation struggle he lost his right-hand to a bomb sent by apartheid security forces: 

John Osmers was an exemplary pastor, prophet and priest who selflessly dedicated his life to the liberation and welfare of God’s people, especially in Southern Africa. Although we mourn his death, we also – along with the many thousands of people to whom he ministered – celebrate an extraordinary life.

As the Church in Southern Africa said when we conferred upon him the Archbishop’s Award for Peace with Justice , Bishop John achieved distinction in multiple countries for multiple reasons as a consequence of his lifelong work as a faithful servant of God. First in Lesotho, then in Botswana and then in Zambia, he served as a chaplain to South African exiles, by whom he is fondly remembered. 

I can do no better than to quote the words of one of them:

“John Osmers gave his home, telephone and meagre food supplies to all of us.

His little van carried young refugees around... He remembered their birthdays,

took them to the hospital when ill and took them blankets… in winter. He

arranged the all-night vigil yearly on 16 June... He took our traumatised

children to stay with him… South African parents whose children were exiled in

Lesotho, Botswana and Zambia owe John Osmers a debt that can never be


To that ministry, he added sterling service in our neighbouring Province of Central Africa, where of course he became the first Bishop of Eastern Zambia, Rector of St John’s Seminary and and Dean of Holy Cross Cathedral in Lusaka. 

Our condolences go to Elizabeth and all in his extended family. To John: well done, you good and faithful servant. Praise be to God for a life well lived. May you rest in peace and rise in glory.

Friday 18 June 2021

Archbishop commends Holy Land studies

The Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem’s hospital in Gaza provides emergency care in the conflict.

My dear sisters and brothers of ACSA,

In September 2019, our Provincial Synod passed a resolution expressing our strong support for justice for the Palestinian people.  In order to give effect to our Provincial Synod resolution, one of the actions I have taken is to commission a series of studies for use in parishes around the Province.  Those studies are now ready and are available freely on our Provincial website or here>> I commend them to you and would strongly urge that as many Bible study groups as possible make use of them.  

The issues of the Holy Land and its conflict are deeply complex and there are no easy answers. But before we express opinions it is a good spiritual discipline to try and understand more clearly and listen to one another more carefully.  It is my belief that these studies will facilitate this understanding and listening process.

Since the passing of the Provincial Synod Resolution and my recent Pentecost letter concerning the conflict in Israel and Palestine, I have received a number of comments both commending and condemning our Provincial decision.  It is very clear that there are strong feelings about the issues which divide the people of the Holy Land.  It is my hope and prayer that the use of these studies will assist us all to make more informed opinions and thus contribute to peace and justice rather than fuelling divisions and conflict. 

As always, I implore you to pray for a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

God bless,

+Thabo Cape Town

LINK to the studies: 

Southern Africa mourns Kenneth Kaunda

"The night has passed, rest in peace KK." This was Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's response to the death announced yesterday of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda. He is remembered in the Province of Southern Africa especially for his wise and unstinting support for the liberation of all our nations. The following is the text of the citation of the Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice, conferred upon KK on April 16, 2016, while the Archbishop was in Lusaka for a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council: 

Archbishop’s Award for Peace with Justice

Kenneth David Kaunda

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

   and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

   and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

The role played in Southern African history by his Excellency Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia, epitomises how a statesman can fulfil the injunction in Micah to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God. 

Born the son of a minister and a teacher, President Kaunda was steeped in the values of the Gospel from an early age. From early adulthood, his life revolved around service to his fellows, as a teacher, a community activist and a founding member of the liberation movement in Zambia. His commitment to service found its highest expression in his term as founding president of Zambia and in his unwavering commitment to liberation for others, making exceptional sacrifices as a consequence of harbouring fellow liberation fighters who were branded by white minority regimes as “terrorists”. At the end of the Cold War, he achieved new distinction as an exemplary leader when he became one of the first leaders to allow multi-party elections and afterwards to step down from power. Respected and loved by Nelson Mandela and the other liberators of Southern Africa, he was rightly honoured with an important role at Madiba’s funeral.

Supported by the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Bishop of Lusaka and the Dean of Lusaka, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is honoured to present the Archbishop’s Award for Peace with Justice to President Kenneth Kaunda. 

“The inability of those in power to still the voices of their own consciences is the great force leading to change.” – Kenneth Kaunda

Tuesday 1 June 2021

A Pastoral Letter on the tragic situation in Palestine and Israel

My dear Sisters and Brothers,

In September 2019, our Provincial Synod passed a resolution expressing our strong support for justice for the Palestinian people. We did not do this lightly: our own experiences and the way the Christian faith was manipulated in the service of apartheid meant that we could not keep silent in the face of similar developments elsewhere.

Our resolution was a cry from the heart aimed at avoiding new outbreaks of violence such as that we have seen recently in the Holy Land. The indiscriminate attacks on whole communities which we saw are to be condemned in the strongest of terms, particularly when aimed at the blockaded territory of Gaza, which has taken on the nature of a huge open-air prison.

The rise in tensions which lay behind the recent violence is partly attributable to attempts to evict Palestinian families from their homes in a largely Palestinian neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and to replace them with Jewish settlers. It shocks the conscience to learn that Israeli law gives Jewish people the right to return to property said to have belonged to them before the state was established in 1948, but that Palestinians have no such right.

The dispute over land goes to the heart of the conflict: because Israel has been declared a homeland for the Jewish people, those of Jewish descent who have no connection to the land other than that biblical Israel was the historic home of their faith have the right to settle there. Yet Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in 1948 have no right to return to their land and properties. And in recent years, the invasion of Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967 by Jewish settlers renders any “two-state solution” even less viable than our Bantustans were.

The current state of affairs is unjust and evil. We therefore call for an arms embargo to be placed on all fighting forces in the region, just as there was a United Nations arms embargo on South Africa. We also call for other pressure, including sanctions, to be imposed to bring all the parties around a conference table to negotiate a just peace.

God must be weeping when God sees what is happening in the place where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again. The “Holy Basin” should be a place where God’s reconciliation is showcased, but the current imbalance of power means that the Palestinians are suffering disproportionately.

We pray for those working for change. We pray for citizens across the world as they rise up in protest. We pray for a united response from across the world and we pray that the Holy Spirit will intervene and unite us across all barriers so that what happens in the Holy Land will surprise us and that we will glorify God because of it. It is possible. We must not lose hope. We must not become cynical. Let us hold onto faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is always love.

May God bless you during Trinitytide.

† Thabo Cape Town