*** 2010 ***
The Dignity of Resistance in Solidarity: 2 Samuel 21:1-14
Dr Allan Boesak's theological reflections, shared on March 28, 2010 at the SACC consultation on Palestine
SACC NEC met with President Zuma
Matters such as poverty, national unity and moral regeneration were raised.
Of Power Perfected in Weakness: Challenges Facing the Ecumenical Movement and the People of South Africa Today
Professor Tinyiko S. Maluleke,SACC President and Executive Director Research: UNISA, challenges delegates at the SACC Central Committee in March
"Telling the Truth from a Position of Weakness": Press Statement
SACC Central Committee, overseeing policy and programmes of the organisation, met from 9 to 10 March in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.
NERSA Declares War Against the Poor
SACC considers national energy regulator's decision to raise electricity tariffs as tantamount to a war against the poor.
SACC Commemorates 20 Years of Liberation
New SACC publication looks at issues of liberation now and then.
SACC National Executive Communique
The quarterly meeting of the SACC's National Executive Committee comments on confirmed reports that President Jacob Zuma has fathered another child out of wedlock, as well as the contents of President Zuma's recent State of the Nation address, and also articulates expectations for the forthcoming National Budget.
Guardian of the light: Denis Hurley, a book review
Bernard Spong, former head of Communications at SACC, reviews and recommends a book about Denis Hurley, the late Catholic Archbishop of Durban.
*** 2009 ***
Act Now on Climate Change, SACC Urges
The SACC has endorsed the UN Conference on Climate Change taking place in Copenhagen and called on leaders to accept the challenge to make "significant and meaningful emission reductions" and on all citizens "to change our own behaviour and the way we contribute towards the devastation of our environment and this earth we live in".
SACC on the situation at Central Methodist Church
The people from South Africa and other African countries that have taken refuge in the Central Methodist Church in the centre of Johannesburg are not the problem. SACC asks some pointed questions in order to help find a solution.
Climate Change: A Challenge to the Churches
The SACC has published a timely new resource on climate change and the ways that Christians are called to respond to this threat to the integrity of God's creation. [PDF 1MB - ]
Living Under the Olive Tree
Ecumenical Accompanier France Mkhatshwa tells the story of the Hanoun and Ghwaai families who have taken up residence under their olive trees in East Jerusalem after they were evicted from their homes by the Ateret Cohanim Settler organisation.
SACC Appalled by Violent Attacks Against Democracy
Church officials decried the savage attacks on leaders of the shack-dwellers' movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, in Durban last weekend. "We are alarmed by the way in which legitimate community struggles are being criminalised," said SACC General Secretary Eddie Makue. Bishop Rubin Phillip called for the deployment of a "credible and independent force" to stop the violence.
Life in Tulkarem
Jade Orgill, an Ecumenical Accompanier based in Tulkarem in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, reports on life in the area and the social, political and economic issues that confront local residents on a daily basis.
The Strike by SANDF Personnel
The Council responds to the recent strike by SANDF personnel in Pretoria.
SACC Seeks Path of Religious Unity, Mutual Respect
SACC leaders counsel caution in response to the launch of the new National Interfaith Leaders Council.
Transforming Johannesburg's Alexandra Township into a Loving Mother of All
SACC President Tinyiko Maluleke makes an impassioned plea for the transformation of Alexandra while opening a new community edcuation facility in the township recently.
Shot and Killed on his Way to Pray
EAPPI Accompanier Simphiwe Pato tells the story of Hammam Nasseraldin, a 19-year-old Palestinian man gunned down by Israeli soldiers on the steps of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron after having passed through two security checkpoints.
I Would Rather Be a Hungry Dog That Runs Free ...
EAPPI Accompanier Deborah Donnell is part of a group of people who are harassed and shot at by Israeli soldiers in the village of Artas on Labour Day.
2009 Central Committee Communique
The annual meeting of the SACC Central Committee took place 27-29 May at Cedar Park in Woodmead, Johannesburg. The meeting issued this communique summarising key aspects of their deliberations and actions.
Piece by Piece the Land is Being Stolen: An EAPPI Report
Simphiwe Pato, an Ecumenical Accompanier based in Hebron, shares his experiences of security force bias at an action to protest the incursion of Israeli settlers onto land owned by Palestinians. Six members of Israeli anti-occupation organisations were arrested at the protest for refusing to leave occupied land hastily declared a "closed military area" by the Israeli Defence Force.
SACSEC Commends Free and Fair 2009 Elections
The South African Civil Society Election Coalition (SACSEC), a network of non-governmental and civil society organisations co-ordinated by the South African Council of Churches, announced today that it is satisfied that South Africa's fourth round of national and provincial elections was conducted in a substantially free, fair, transparent and credible manner. The Coalition's preliminary assessment comments on a number of aspects if the election, including voter education, election coverage, political party agents and voting day itself, as well as making suggestions for the post-election period.
Crucifixion by Corruption: Then and Now
In his Good Friday sermon at Diakonia Council of Churches in Durban, SACC President Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke warns against corruption, noting that Jesus Christ was a victim of corruption in his day. "He was a victim of systems, institutions and structures - colluding and intersecting religious and political systems," Maluleke said. Citing Micah's condemnation of "cannibalistic" leaders who prey on the people, he lashes out at the "shenanigans" of contemporary political, economic and religious leaders and offers a perspective on the NPA's recent decision not to prosecute Jacob Zuma.
No Room for the Poor in Our Cities?
Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip slates the "odious" KwaZulu-Natal Slums Act and endorses Abahlali baseMjondolo's campaign for decent housing for all. "We need to recognise that shack settlements, imperfect as they are, have been an effective means of providing housing for the urban poor," Bishop Rubin observes. "Working with people in a respectful way should be the basis for a proper partnership that begins to change our cities to more just, equal and shared spaces where shalom reigns."
Report to the SACC on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme
At the end of 2008, an evaluation team appointed by the SACC visited Palestine and Israel to assess the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment programme and to make recommendations regarding the SACC's continuing participation in the programme.
Excavated Palestinian Lives in Silwan
Ecumenical Accompaniers Scott Smith and Dudu Masango recount the experiences of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem where Israeli authorities have destroyed a growing number of homes in the past decade. Smith and Masango visited Silwan on 5 November 2008, shortly after the demolition of several homes the al-Bustan neighbourhood. They share their experiences and insights in this article. [PDF - ]
An Open Letter to South African Political Leaders
Addressing members of the Mpumalanga provincial legislature at the fourth annual Speaker's Breakfast, the SACC President, Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke, issues a challenge to all political leaders on the eve of the nation's fourth democratic general election. He warns against both the "politics of the stomach" and the "politics of disgrace" and invites leaders instead to pursue the "politics of affirmation" and to aspire to servant leadership.
SACC Warns of Challenges Ahead
Council officials comment on the electoral and economic challenges that confront South Africa in the coming months.
The SACC National Executive Committee met for the first time in 2009 and commented on the looming national and provincial elections, moral reconstruction, the continuing battle against HIV and other preventable diseases, poverty and inequality, and the crises in Zimbabwe and the Holy Land.
The SACC details plans to work jointly with the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and the Gift of the Givers Foundation to dispatch emergency humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza.
*** 2008 ***
Peace is Cool and there is Nothing Sexy About Violence!
In an address at Marianhill, outside Durban, SACC President Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke calls the Church to the task of building peace. "We must seriously reflect on our many ways and many layers of complicity in society's project of violence," Prof. Maluleke told the gathering. "We must seek to understand the many ways in which we both opt for and are co-opted in the service of violence. All of us must come to recognize our roles, positions and job descriptions in the kingdom of violence."
SACC Gives Thanks for the Life of Miriam Makeba
The General Secretariat and the Praesidium of the Council have written to the family of the late Dr. Miriam Makeba to extend condolences on the world- renowned singer and activist's untimely death in Italy on 10 November. "Her unique gift was her ability to use her musical talents to enrich and inspire others, to open our eyes to injustice and to impart a vision of a more humane and compassionate world,” the Council wrote.
African Child Rights Advocates Urge Corporal Punishment Ban
The SACC joined child rights advocates from across the continent to make a joint submission to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in Addis Ababa on 3 November. The submission asked the Committee to issue a written statement urging African states to prohibit corporal and other forms of humiliating punishment of children and to develop measures to promote compliance with the ban.
Attack on Zim Women's March a Sign of Continuing Crisis
Council officials condemned the recent attack by Zimbabwean police on a peaceful World Food Day demonstration organised by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). The SACC expressed concern that the current climate in Zimbabwe is not conducive to a fair trial for detained leaders Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams. The Council reiterated calls for civil society to be involved in the search for a peaceful and just resolution to the country's ongoing political crisis.
Israeli Military Incursion into a Hebron Home
Ashwin Pienaar, an SACC-trained Ecumenical Accompanier in Palestine and Israel, shares his experience of witnessing the occupation by Israeli soldiers of a Palestinean family's home in Hebron. His eyewitness account gives a powerful glimpse into the hardships and indignities that residents of the West Bank face on a daily basis.
CSG Abuse Claims "Anecdotal" Say SACC, Black Sash
The SACC and the Black Sash have issued a joint statement to challenge unsubstantiated claims that young mothers are abusing the Child Support Grant by squandering it on non-essential items. They note that recent studies have shown the grant to be well-targeted and effective in helping to tackle child hunger and promote school attendance.
SACC Statement on the Resignation of President Thabo Mbeki
The Council has expressed disappointment at the manner in which President Mbeki has been forced to resign and called upon the ANC to act swiftly to address the leadership void and to reassure both South Africans and the international community that good governance is not under threat.
A Plea to the ANC NEC and the People of South Africa
The Council of Churches has called for all political groupings, including the ANC and its alliance partners, to respect the ruling of Judge Chris Nicholson and to desist from using the judgement as a pretext for rash political action that might plunge the country into political crisis.
Violence Must End for Credible Zim Talks, Churches Say
The National Executive Committee has issued a strong call for the cessation of violence in Zimbabwe as a necessary condition for credible talks. Church leaders said Robert Mugabe's government had primary responsibility for halting the violence, which has reached alarming levels. They said the negotiations must make space for all voices to be heard, and they slammed the government's "incoherent and ad hoc" responses to xenophobic attacks.
Council Condemns "Unhelpful" Approach to Undocumented Refugees
SACC leaders have reiterated their strong condemnation of hostility towards foreign nationals and their willingness to work with public officials to facilitate the reintegration of displaced people into communities, where feasible. In this context, the Council has been "appalled" by the recent actions of the South African Police Service and the Department of Home Affairs officials at the Glenanda shelter. Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke, President of the SACC, said their behaviour "makes a mockery of government's commitment to respect the rights of foreigners."
Statement of the Ecumenical Summit on Zimbabwe
Delegates from around the region adopted a strongly- worded statement at the end of their four-day summit. The statement asks SADC governments to refuse to recognise former President Robert Mugabe's illegitimate regime and to impose targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe. It also urges President Mbeki to intensify his efforts to mediate the crisis and to refrain from any action that might be seen to compromise his impartiality.
Summit Backs Zimbabwe Sanctions
Church leaders from around the region have strongly endorsed a call for the imposition of targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe as a practical measure to loosen former President Robert Mugabe's "illegitimate" grip on power and promote a negotiated political settlement.
"The Drought is Ending" Ecumenical Leader Tells Zimbabwe
In his sermon at the opening of an ecumenical summit on Zimbabwe, Council for World Mission Moderator Rev. Dr. Roderick Hewitt told worshippers that a day of accountability is coming for Zimbabwe and former President Robert Mugabe. He likened Mugabe's unjust rule to that of King Ahab and called on churches to speak out and to work vigorously for justice and peace in Zimbabwe.
Ecumenical Leaders to Convene Zimbabwe Summit
The SACC, together with the Council for World Mission and two SACC member denominations, will convene an international ecumenical summit on Zimbabwe. Entitled "Overcoming Fear by Faith: Churches in Solidarity with the People of Zimbabwe", the meeting will bring together more than 60 church and community leaders to explore ways in which churches can bring their faith to bear in practical ways in support of the quest for justice, peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.
SACC Calls for Stronger Action on Zimbabwe
In the wake of Zimbabwe's farcical one-candidate presidential "run-off election" on Saturday, the Council calls on nations to refuse to recognise the illegitimate leadership of former President Robert Mugabe and to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to intensify pressure for a political settlement there.
SACC Executive Condemns Zimbabwe Violence
At an extraordinary meeting on 23 June, the SACC National Executive condemned the intensified violence in Zimbabwe that has led presidential frontrunner Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from the presidential runoff election scheduled for 27 June. The NEC said it was clear that the conditions for a free and fair election did not exist. The Executive also discussed ways of ministering to those displaced by recent "xenophobic" violence in South Africa and called on political and community leaders to desist from using violent and inflammatory language.
SACC Apologises for Attacks on Foreign Nationals
In a move mandated by the SACC Central Committee, the General Secretary has written to other Christian Councils in the region to express the SACC's shock and contrition with respect to a recent wave of attacks on foreign nationals living in South Africa. The Council invites sisters and brothers in faith in neighbouring countries to work together to find development paradigms that promote justice, equality and human dignity.
Justice in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Earlier this year, SACC President Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke gave the keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Foundation for Church-led Restitution in Cape Town. His remarks, "Toward a Theology of Restitution," were much-commended, so we are pleased to make the full address available here.
"Bread for the Poor, Bread for the Stranger" say Churches
The SACC held its annual Central Committee meeting in Johannesburg around the theme of "Give us this day our daily bread". The meeting commemorated the Council's fortieth anniversary, but the celebrations were bittersweet as delegates met in the midst of enormous human suffering occasioned by rapidly rising prices for food and fuel, violent community protests that have targeted foreign nationals from other parts of Africa, and the continuing crisis in Zimbabwe.
Colonialism Runs Riot!
As the South African Council of Churches celebrates its fortieth anniversary, former Head of SACC Communications, Rev. Bernard Spong, assesses the new colonialism of globalisation and consumerism and asks what theses phenomena mean for the future role of the Council.
Churches Leaders Call for Peace with Justice in Alex
Following a visit by a delegation of Gauteng church leaders to conflict-torn Alexandra, the Council has condemned the violence and has made a commitment to working with community leaders to address the underlying social and economic factors. It has also warned against simply attributing the conflict to "xenophobia" without recognising the complexity of the forces at work in South Africa and the region.
Churches Applaud Aid to Distressed Households
The General Secretary has welcomed Minister Zola Skweyiya's announcement that the government will make more than R120 million available to relieve short-term economic hardships faced by many families.
Apartheid Wall Divides Bedouin Communities
A further report from Ecumenical Accompanier Scott Smith on the challenges faced by Bedouin families in occupied Palestine.
SACC Calls for Release of Zimbabwe Election Results
The Council says that, in spite of "worrying signs" of electoral irregularities, the people of Zimbabwe have spoken in that nation's 29 March poll, and the SACC calls for the release of long-delayed results to ensure that people do not lose faith in the electoral process.
Chaos at Qalqiliya's North Terminal
Ecumenical Accompanier Scott Smith submits an eyewitness account of a morning at the north gate in the town of Qalqiliya, a community completely surrounded by Israel's apartheid wall.
Buys Family Thanks Ecumenical Movement
The family of the late Rev. James Buys, who died suddenly on 1 March 2008, expresses its thanks to the members of the ecumenical family around the world for the love and support shown to them following Rev. Buys' death.
SACSEC Begins Preparations for 2009 Elections
The South African Civil Society Election Coalition (SACSEC), formerly known as SACSOC, has reconvened in preparation for the 2009 national and provincial elections. The Coalition is a national initiative of more than 40 non-governmental and faith-based organisations committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.
Bedouin Homesteads Near Zufin Face Destruction
Bedouin families outside of Qalqiliya contend with the destruction of their property by the Israeli Defense Force. EAPPI Accompanier Scott Smith shares a brief sketch of one family's struggle.
Roadblocks Inhibit Palestinians' Free Movement
EAPPI Accompanier Scott Smith reports on the intentional obstruction of transportation routes around Azzun and the impact it has on the lives of Palestinians.
Council to Honour Chikane and Other Ecumenical "Heroes"
As part of it fortieth anniversary celebrations, the SACC will hold a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving on 23 February in Kliptown. The service will give thanks to God for sparing the life of former SACC General Secretary Dr. Frank Chikane, who was the target of an assassination attempt in 1989. The Council will also recognise the contributions of dozens of "unsung" heroes and heroines who played a vital role in the struggle for jutice and democracy in South Africa.
Leaders Condemn Attack on Church
At its first meeting of 2008, the Church Leaders' Forum discussed a wide range of topics including election-related violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Pakistan; the state of South Africa in the wake of the Polokwane conference, and a variety of economic concerns. The discussion was dominated, however, by the alarming attack by police on hundreds of people living at the Central Methodist Church, many of whom have been displaced from Zimbabwe. The Church Leaders' Forum, which is convened by the SACC, brings together Christian leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Churches Call for Action to Prevent HIV Transmission
The SACC has called on government to release the long-overdue revised guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The National Strategic Plan endorsed last year provides for the upgrading of the current mono therapy protocol to the more effective dual therapy recommended by the World Health Organisation. The General Secretary expressed concern that South Africa is not doing enough to prevent children from being born with HIV.
Fraudsters Attempt to Swindle Churches
An unscrupulous individual has apparently been attempting to defraud churches by posing as an SACC employee and using the promise of donations to gain access to congregational banking details. The General Secretary warns churches to be caution about unexpected gifts or unreasonably advantageous offers.
*** 2007 ***
Hedging About: An Assessment of the ANC Conference
Former SACC Communications head Bernard Spong offers a personal assessment of the recent ANC Elective Conference and, in particular, the leadership contest that dominated the event. The key challenge for church and state alike, he argues, is the destruction of walls of separation and privilege, not merely revising the ways that we tend these barrier "hedges".
The Message to the ANC, its Leadership & Delegates
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) has engaged in various interventions and intercessions in view of various developments relating to the 52nd elective Conference of the ruling party ANC. The Council has been particularly concerned with the tone and conduct of the leadership succession processes in the run-up to the Polokwane conference. As part of our concern, the Council has previously issued statements condemning what we have come to call the ‘politics of disgrace’.
Vision & leadership, the challenge we face today
My 14 year old son has taught me many things, from hip-hop to play station two. One of the finer lessons I will always appreciate from him though, relates to a film genre based on a view of the world from the future back to the present. These are the so-called futuristic films in which things are fast-forwarded to fifty or a hundred years or more from now. In such films we get a glimpse of how life will be lived in the future. Inspired and emboldened by the schooling received from my son, find below my attempt to do a futuristic scenario our beloved country of South Africa – sixty years from now.
Consultation on Genetics and New Biotechnologies
The Aide Memoire from the SACC Consultation on Genetics and New Biotechnologies demands that the creativity of science be harnessed to the advancement of the common good, calls for enhanced study and understanding of various aspects and implications of the new technologies and the protection of peoples and cultures.
Consultation on Genetics and New Biotechnologies
An SACC consultation on Genetics and New Biotechnologies agreed that the teachings of the churches need to be developed further in response to the challenges of biotechnology and the impact it has on peoples' lives. At the same time, participants stressed the need for caution in light of the potential for damage and the tendency for commercial interests to eclipse other concerns. Dr Puleng Lenka-Bula, the SACC's Vice President, said "Biotechnology, in many of its current applications, is like the apartheid system; it thrives on and leads to the indignity of persons and communities."
Biko on Religion and Black Liberation
Thirty years after Steve Biko's death in detention, Professor Maluleke analyses the SASO leader and Black Consciousness founder's profound impact on politics, culture and theology and examines the continuing challenges facing South Africa.
SACC Prays for SA, its People and its Political Leaders
South African Council of Churches (SACC) calls on politicians and the media of our country to stop and remember where we come from as a fledging nation and as a people recently formed.
PBC: Expectations from the medium term budget policy statement
The Peoples' Budget Campaign (PBC), a civil society coalition consisting of COSATU, SACC and SANGOCO, has for the past nine years tabled proposals on spending and revenue. The PBC bases its proposals from a pro-poor perspective and within the framework of the realisation of socio-economic rights, including but not limited to the right to dignity and life.
SACC's Conversation on Succession Matters
Representatives from SACC member churches called on the religious community to encourage diversity of opinion and a free, frank and open debate in the processes leading to the selection of the new ANC leadership and all political leaders of our country. Processes relating to elections are critical for the strength of democracy in our country.
Towards a Nation of Black Diamonds
In an address to the Holy Cross Education Trust, SACC President Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke urges South Africans to invest in life and the education of the nation's youth.
SACC salutes the Anglican Church for the election of its new bishop
SACC President Professor Tinyiko Maluleke welcomed Anglican Bishop Thabo Makgoba's election as the Archbishop Elect of Cape Town calling the choice an excellent one for the Anglican Church and the ecumenical movement as a whole.
SACC calls on South Africans to support Burma's democracy activists
The SACC salutes the courage of thousands of Burmese democracy activists and Buddhist monks who have peacefully protested devastating price increases imposed by Burma's military junta. The Council expressed concern about the brutal tactics that have been used to disperse demonstrators.
New SACC Executive Slates "Politics of Disgrace"
At its first meeting, the new National Executive Committee of the SACC, elected at the Council's triennial National Conference in July, deliberated on a wide range of theological, social and economic issues. The meeting issued a communique expressing concern about the growing use of the "politics of disgrace" and commenting on the upcoming ANC Policy Conference and the situation in Zimbabwe.
Vlok Decision May Complicate Quest for Justice
Mr Vlok and his four co-conspirators reached a plea bargain deal with the NPA and pleaded guilty to the crime of poisoning the Rev Dr Frank Chikane. Maluleke expressed concern that this court judgment may set a precedent complicating our national search for justice and subsequent reconciliation and healing.
Activists Call for a "New Vision" of Land Reform
Land activists from churches, communities and civil society have called on government to work with communities to develop a new, more ambitious land reform programme that can ensure that all landless households have access to land, sustainable livelihood and food security.
SACC Calls for Intensified Action to End Public Service Strike
The South African Council of Churches is profoundly concerned about the impact that the current industrial action in the public service sector is having on ordinary South Africans, particularly those living in poor and marginalised households.
SACC Concerned About Strike Action
An SACC delegation, led by SACC President Prof. Russel Botman, met with representatives of both government and striking public sector workers this week to hear their concerns and to impress upon both sides the need for a fair, just and sustainable settlement that minimises the burdens on poor and and marginalised households.
SACC Joins WCC Call for Peace in Palestine and Israel
In preparation for the global week of church action for peace in the Holy Land, the SACC has called on its member to join the initiative and has asked participants to "be peaceful in advocating peace". The Council also announced a schedule of events to take place during the week.
International Church Action for Peace In Palestine and Israel
To highlight the urgency of peace in Palestine and Israel after 40 years of occupation, the World Council of Churches (WCC), member churches and related organizations are organizing a week of prayers, seminars and advocacy to mark this June's anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Tribute to Sophie Mazibuko
Mrs. Sophie Mazibuko, the former head of the SACC Dependant's Conference during the apartheid era, passed away on 15 May and will be greatly missed by friends and colleagues around the world. The Council remembers Ma Sophie in a tribute prepared by the Rev. Bernard Spong.
Former SACC General Secretary named Ambassador to DRC
Dr. Molefe Tsele, who served as SACC General Secretary from May 2001 to March 2006, has been appointed by the South African government to serve as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The SACC has congratulated Dr. Tsele and commended the appointment in the light of Dr. Tsele's strong commitment to peace and justice.
Is This Really 'A World Fit for Children'?
Ecumenical Accompanier Kimendhri Pillay talks examines the conditions in which most Palestinian children live in light of United Nations' resolutions on children.
10080 Minutes in Paradise - The Ride to Agadir and Other Stories
Michael Oliphant relates some of his experiences as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Palestine.
Its Time to Act for Peace and Justice in Zimbabwe
The SACC expressed concern over the beating and detention of church and human rights activists in Zimbabwe. The General Secretary said that South Africa's silence was aggravating the problem, which he said threatened to destabilise the region. He called on SADC governments to enhance peace and security for all people of the region and he challenged churches to take a stand against xenophobia.
*** 2006 ***
Ecumenical Movement Gives Thanks for the Life of Dr. Kistner
Dr. Wolfram Kistner, the former Director of the Council's Justice and Reconciliation Division, has passed away in Johannesburg at the age of 83. The SACC gives thanks for the life of this great pastor, theologian, activist and friend.
Civil Society Partnership to Save Lives
A group of civil society organisations, including the SACC, issued this statement on World AIDS Day.
SACC Outraged by AIDS "Cure" Claim
The Council is outraged by reports that a traditional healer has claimed that more than 500 people have been cured of HIV infection in the past two years using a variety of African herbs. The General Secretary has called on churches to be centres of accurate information about the disease and its prevention and to provide compassionate care and support for those infected with and affected by the virus.
Council Concerned About Torture, Poll Delays in Western Sahara
Following a meeting with representatives of the Saharawi Republic, the General Secretary has expressed concern about reports of torture and human rights abuses in Western Sahara. He called on the South African government to use its influence at the United Nations to hasten the promised referendum on the territory's future.
International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel
ICAPPI will hold its second annual advocacy week 3-9 June 2007 and the SACC will participate once again. Clement John's letter shares advance information about the event.
Sabeel Conference Calls for Prayer, Advocacy
The General Secretary of the SACC took part in the Sixth International Conference of Sabeel, an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. The Conference Statement calls on Sabeel's friends to commit themselves to active prayer, education, and advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people.
Council Urges Retailers to Reconsider Court Bid
Reacting to reports that some of South Africa's largest clothing retailers are planning to take the government to court to block the introduction of protective quotas on Chinese textile imports, the SACC General Secretary urged the retailers to reconsider the move. He encouraged them to use established negotiating forums instead to resolve the dispute in a way that would help to save and create jobs for South African workers.
Civil Society HIV/AIDS Congress Statement and Resolutions
Three hundred and fifty delegates from civil society organisations met 27-28 October to discuss and assess the national response to HIV prevention and treatment, to devise programmes and to share knowledge and experiences. The unprecedented Congress, hosted by the SACC, TAC,COSATU and SANGOCO, took place at a critically important time, as government leads the process to review the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and develop a new National Strategic plan on HIV and AIDS (2007-2011).
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu Celebrates his 75th Birthday
The SACC invites friends and well-wishers to send greetings to Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and former SACC General Secretary Desmond Tutu to mark his recent 75th birthday.
People's Budget Coalition Responds to the 2006 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
The People's Budget Coalition (SACC, COSATU and SANGOCO) welcomed the expansionary three-year budget framework for the period leading up to the 2010 World Cup, but challenged government to ensure that the World Cup does not just become a short-lived turn on the world stage but "a springboard to meeting broader state objectives: achieving sustainable reductions in unemployment, poverty, and inequality; investing in basic infrastructure - such as reliable and efficient public transport - that serves the needs of all South Africans, especially the poor and the working poor.
Civil Society Coalition Releases Discussion Documents for HIV/AIDS Congress
The Civil Society Coalition (SACC, COSATU, SANGOCO and TAC) organising the 27-28 October Civil Society Congress on HIV/AIDS has released a series of discussion documents in preparation for the event.
SACC Outraged by Murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento
The General Secretary expressed the Council's shock at the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento, the former Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (IFI). Bishop Ramento was stabbed to death in the rectory of his church in Tarlac, Philippines, on 3 October. His death is the latest in a series of murders of Christian leaders and human rights activists in the Philippines.
Churches applaud South Africa's Security Council Seat
The SACC welcomed South Africa's election to the United Nations Security Council and urged the South African government to use its mandate to promote economic justice, peace and good stewardship of the environment.
SACC Executive Aims to Expand Dialogue on Moral Regeneration
The quarterly meeting of the Council's National Executive Committee expressed concern about the moral decay evident in our society's casual attitude to poverty, greed, crime and violence. It also urged Christians not to allow differences of opinion on the question of same-sex marriages to divide the church or to divert it from the task of moral regeneration.
Building Solidarity and an Action Plan to Save Lives
The South African Council of Churches, COSATU, the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and the Treatment Action Campaign announced details of a major new initiative to prevent and treat HIV in South Africa.
SACC, UUCSA Issue Joint Call for Respect and Tolerance
In the wake of an international furore over the remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI at a scientific colloquium at the University of Regensburg, the South African Council of Churches and the United Ulama Council of South Africa have issued a joint call for calm, religious tolerance and mutual respect. The statement was motivated in part by reports of attacks on Christian churches in Palestine, an area in which there has historically been cordial relations between the Christian and Muslim communities.
SACC Calls for Justice for the "Cuban Five" and All Political Prisoners
The General Secretary joined with other civil society organisations around the world in expressing concern about the fate of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States. On the eighth anniversary of their incarceration, the General Secretary called on the US to ensure justice for the "Cuban Five", to end its punative blockade of Cuba, and to take action against individuals who use US soil as a base for launching terrorist attacks on Cuba.
Ecumenical Leaders Applaud Import Quotas
The SACC and the Economic Justice Network have welcomed the South African government's plans to introduce new quotas on clothing imports from China. SACC General Secretary Eddie Makue noted that the restrictions were coinsistent with the principles articulated by the global ecumenical campaign for trade justice and pledged the Council's support for trade union efforts to secure compliance from clothing retaillers.
SACC Letter on Marriage
As Parliament prepares to consider how best to respond to the Constitutional Court's December 2005 ruling that the Marriage Act must be developed to bring it in line with South Africa's Constitution, the General Secretary of the SACC has written to the Chairs of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and Justice & Constitutional Development to articulate a religious motivation for marriage equality.
Vlok's Act of Contrition Welcome, But Insufficient
Following press reports that former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok had washed the feet of former SACC General Secretary Dr. Frank Chikane as an act of contrition for apartheid-era crimes, the SACC welcomed Vlok's private apology but called for full disclosure and a public apology as a further sign of repentance.
SACC Calls for Cooperation to Fight HIV/AIDS Pandemic
The General Secretary called for much more to be done to combat the "epidemic of death that is sweeping our nation" following a meeting with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to discuss the issues raised in TAC's 24 August Global Day of Action.
Prayers for the Month of Compassion
The SACC Central Committee voted to dedicate the traditional August "Month of Compassion" to remembering victims of crime and violence, especially violence against women. The Council's Faith and Mission Unit has compiled prayers and litanies appropriate for use during the month.
Bishop of Jerusalem appeals for urgent ceasefire
The SACC received a letter from The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, appealing for increased international pressure for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East.
SACC Protests US Ban on Aid to Cuban Council
The General Secretary has written to US President George Bush to object to the recommendation of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba that the United States halt the distribution of humanitarian aid through the Cuban Council of Churches.
SACC Asks SA Government to Broker Mideast Peace
The SACC has called on the South African government to host a peace process, modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for all parties to the current conflict in the Middle East.
SA Accompanier Attacked by Settler in Hebron
Duduzile Masango, a South African volunteer participating in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel, was assaulted by an Israeli settler whilst waiting for the girls whom they had been accompanying to and from school. This is Duduzile's account of the incident, over which the World Council of Churches has lodged a complaint with the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa.
Central Committee Discusses ASGI-SA, Violent Crime
The SACC's Central Committee discussed a range of domestic and international issues at their two-day annual meeting on 11-12 July. The Committee affirmed the need to work with government on the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative, but emphasised that the moral obligation to share applies independently of the success of growth-oriented measures. Delegates expressed concern about increased levels of violence locally and globally and authorised the production of materials to help churches separate fears from fiction and grapple with the underlying issues. Other topics included: Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Palestine and Israel, and HIV/AIDS.
Council "Shattered" by the Death of Former President, Bishop Sigqibo Dwane
The SACC and AACC are shocked by the tragic deaths of former SACC President Bishop Sigqibo Dwane, the outgoing Presiding Bishop of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church, and his wife, Ntombezinhlanu, in a multi-vehicle accident last night.
SACC Statement on Violence tearing South African Society Apart
úViolence is the problem that most concerns Americans. And it is a problem that has defied most of the solutions we have adopted against it; from longer prison sentences to the death penalty.î-James Gilligan, an American psychiatrist.
SACC Executive Discusses National and Regional Issues
The National Executive Committee of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) discussed a range of national and regional issues at its quarterly meeting yesterday, including the persistently high levels of violence in the nation and the forthcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
SACC Mourns the Death of Eric Molobi
The General Secretary said that South Africa had lost a great leader and patriot with the passing of Eric Molobi. Molobi, Executive Director of Kagiso Trust, played a central role in establishing the Joint Enrichment Project to equip youth for church and community leadership.
Church, Union Agree to Explore New Partnerships
SACC and National Union of Mineworkers officials met in the wake of the NUM President's critical comments on Christianity. The NUM apologised unreservedly for the remarks and invited churches to explore new partnership opportunities.
Justice for the Rich; Nothing for the Poor
In the wake of the acquittal of five accused murderers in the Phongola district this week, activist organisation Church Land Programme has expressed outrage at the lack of legal support and access to justice for the rural poor in South Africa.
Council Backs Call to Action on AIDS
The Council of Churches endorsed the the 23 April march by the Treatment Action Campaign, the SA Democratic Teachers' Union and the Rural AIDS and Development Action Research Programme intended to promote the call to prevent the infection of two million people over the next four years.
SACC Mourns Death of Bishop Harold Ben Senatle
The General Secretary, Mr Eddie Makue, extended the Council's condolences to the family of AME Bishop Harold Ben Senatle who died this week at the age of 79. Bishop Senatle was remembered as a vocal opponent of apartheid, an advocate of education and a friend of the ecumenical movement.
SACC Appoints New General Secretary
The National Executive Committee of the SACC has named Mr. Eddie Makue, the current Deputy General Secretary, to replace Dr. Molefe Tsele when his five-year term as General Secretary concludes on 1 April 2006.
SACC Executive Considers Elections, Arms, Same-Sex Unions
In its first meeting of 2006, the SACC National Executive Commmittee discussed a range of topics including the recent municipal elections and forthcoming elections in the DRC, small arms control, improving living conditions for refugees in South Africa, Palestine and Israel, and February's ecumenical seminar on same-sex unions.
SACC Joins World Churches in Calling For Mideast Peace
The South African Council of Churches will take part in a global week of "International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel" from 12 to 19 March 2006 in response to a call from Jerusalem church leaders. There will be a service at St. George's Cathedral in Cape Town to mark the commencement of the week, and, in Johannesburg, the SACC will train more volunteers to take part in the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.
SACSOC Commends Free and Fair Municipal Elections
The South African Civil Society Observation Coalition (SACSOC), which is co-ordinated by the South African Council of Churches, pronounced the 1 March municipal government elections "free and fair". The Coalition said it was proud of the maturity of South Africa's voters and the efficiency of the Electoral Commission machinery. It noted some minor administrative problems which will be taken up with the Commission, but which did not mar the outcome of the elections. The Coalition expressed the hope that the election will "build a foundation for accelerated and improved delivery of services, particularly to poorer households."
People's Budget Response to the 2006 Budget
The People's Budget Coalition -- which includes the SACC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) -- welcomed the Minister of Finance's 2006-2007 National Budget, saying that it "promises real benefits for the poor". At the same time, the Coalition questioned the budget's capacity to support employment creation, contribute to more equitable access to assets, skills and infrastructure and extend social protection to ensure that no South African suffers destitution.
Churches Initiate a Broad Discussion of Same-Sex Marriages
More than 100 delegates from Christian churches - both members and non-members of the SACC - gathered on 6-7 February to discuss same-sex marriage. The meeting took place following the recent Constitutional Court ruling that South Africa's Marriage Act is inconsistent with the Constitution's prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The event was just a preliminary conversation on a complex and emotive subject, yet participants broadly supported a number of key principles concerning the role of scripture, the importance of the Constitution, the imperative to love and affirm all people and the need to continue the dialogue.
Jerusalem Church Leaders Urge World Churches to Advocate for Peace
Church Leaders in Jerusalem write to motivate participation in the World Council of Churches International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel, 12-19 March 2006. The South African Council of Churches has endorsed this initiative and urges all people of faith to pray for a just peace in the region.
SA Interfaith Delegation Explores Reconciliation in Rwanda
An interfaith delegation to Rwanda, led by the SACC in December 2005 at the invitation of the South African Ambassador to Rwanda, HE Mr. Ezra Sigwela, recounts its experiences. The delegation met with senior officials of the Rwandan government, officials of Rwanda's Gacaca courts, leaders of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, and representatives of the country's faith communities. The report concludes with suggestions for what people of faith in South Afirca can do to support peace and reconciliation in Rwanda.
Tulkarem Youth: Hopes and Fears in a Troubled Society
Ashwin Pienaar, a South African participant in the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), introduces us to the Dar Qandeel Cultural Centre in Tulkarem and shares insights gleaned from conversations with young Palestinians.
Churches, Equality and Same-Sex Unions
The South African Council of Churches will convene a theological consultation on same-sex unions in early February. In an opinion column prepared for theFinancial Mail, the General Secretary of the SACC discusses the Church's public ministry in the midst of this contentious debate.
*** 2005 ***
Interfaith Delegation to Explore Reconciliation in Rwanda
At the invitation of the South African Ambassador to Rwanda, the SACC's Proclaiming Reconciliation Programme is organising a visit to Kigali by seven South African Christian and Muslim leaders members, to coincide with South Africa's Day of Reconciliation celebrations on 16 December. The delegation will meet with their counterparts in Rwanda to discuss the role of faith communities in promoting reconciliation and national unity.
SACC Mourns the Passing of Mr. Richard Khanyi
SACC members mourn the death of Mr. Richard Khanyi, a 15 year veteran of the Council's national staff. Richard was the driver for four successive General Secretaries and was many visitors' first point of contact with the Council as he met them at the airport. He will be sorely missed by family, friends and colleagues.
SACC Responds to Constitutional Court Decision on Same-Sex Marriage
The SACC commended the Constitutional Court for the sensitivity of its decision declaring the Marriage Act unconstitutional because it discriminates against same-sex couples. The Court emphasised that its decision does not impose any additional duties on local congregations. The Council welcomed the opportunity for Parliament to be involved in drafting a new Marriage Act.
COSATU, SACC and TAC Step Up Campaign to Prevent and Treat HIV
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the SACC and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) have issued a joint statement and plan of action designed to press for an effective national HIV prevention plan and improved access to anti-retroviral therapy for as a step towards universal treatment access.
The Road from Aqraba Ends at Yanoun
EAPPI trainer Rev. Janet Trisk gives a poignant perspective on the history of the West Bank, the significance of Wall and recent events in Hebron and Yanoun following a visit to Israel and Palestine to attend the opening of the Jerusalem Ecumenical Centre.
Faith Leaders Endorse Statement on Violence Against Women and Children
Marking the commencement of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Violence Against Women and Children, faith leaders in the National Religious Leaders Forum (NRLF) endorsed a statement acknowledging that "even those who have been entrusted with the care of vulnerable people ... have often abused that trust." The faith leaders committed themselves to taking action to halt such abuses.
SA Churches Ask What Must Be Done About Namibian Graves
The General Secretary of the SACC has written to the Namibian Council of Churches to ask for recommendations on how South Africans can honour the memory of Namibian soldiers found in mass graves in northern Namibia. He has also called on South Africans with information about the apartheid-era massacres to come forward and reveal what they know.
General Secretary's Contract Coming to an End
The President of the SACC, Prof Russel Botman, announced that the NEC would form a Search Committee to seek a successor for the current General Secretary, Dr. Molefe Tsele, when his contract expires early next year. Prof. Botman praised Dr. Tsele's leadership at a critical juncture in the life of the Council and the nation.
Meeting a West Bank Settler
Ms. Afiefah Osman, a South African participant in the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompanier Programme for Palestine and Israel, tells about her encounter with a young woman whose family had settled in the West Bank. Their conversation provides a rare glimpse into one settler's views on faith, culture and relationships.
WCC Ecumenical Team Reports on Visit to Zimbabwe
A six-person team of ecumenical leaders visited Zimbabwe at the beginning of October to gain a better understanding of the situation in that country. Their report summarises their major findings and makes recommendations for further action.
Resolutions of the National Conference on Racial and Gender Justice
The SACC National Conference on Racial and Gender Justice adopted resolutions on the policies and practices of faith communities, the development of a spirituality to combat racism and sexism, internalised racism, and the use of specially trained Racial/Gender Justice commissioners.
Occupation and the Oppression of Identity in Palestine
Ms. Afiefah Osman, a South African participant in the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompanier Programme for Palestine and Israel, writes about her experiences on her return from the Middle East: "Freedom in South Africa has taken on a new meaning for me as I had forgotten what it was like to be restricted, but being in Palestine brought back those memories. It was like having a scab pulled off a wound that has not completely healed."
SACC Convenes National Conference on Racial and Gender Justice
The SACC's Healing and Reconciliation Unit is convening a national conference on racial and gender justice, 25-26 October 2005. The consultation will mark the completion of a cycle of research which was launched by the SACC National Conference in 2004. It is hoped that the conferencve will enable participants from various faith communities to develop a common plan of action to confront discrimination within their own structures.
SACC Executive Discusses Social and Political Concerns
Following its quarterly meeting in Johannesburg, the SACC's National Executive Committee issued a communique outlining the Council's views on a range of current issues. The statement touched on floor crossing, party funding, local government elections, circumcision and HIV, orphans, poverty, violence against women and children, and the proposed National Child Safety Watch scheme.
"Operation Hope for Zimbabwe" Relief Arrives
Zimbabwe's Christian Care reports the arrival of food and blankets destined for families displaced by Operation Murambatsvina. The relief, donated by South African churches, was delayed for six weeks by Zimbabwean agricultural and customs restrictions.
Premier Urges Church Factions to Reconcile
Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa has called on warring factions of the St. John's Apostolic Faith Mission Church of South Africa to put aside differences that have divided the church for more than 30 years. The Premier was speaking at a reconciliation meeting convened by the SACC at Khotso House.
Archbishop Tutu to Intervene in Church Dispute
The SACC has asked a team of Eminent Leaders, including Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Mrs. Adelaide Tambo, and former SACC President Dr. Khoza Mgojo, to mediate a dispute among factions within the St. John's Apostolic Faith Mission. A reconciliation indaba will take place at Khotso House next week ahead of a major meeting of the church.
Council "Relieved" By Release of Zimbabwe Supplies
The Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Eddie Makue, has said he was "relieved" that the SACC, with the help of the South African Department of Agriculture, had finally acquired the necessary papers to enable relief supplies collected by South African churches to be shipped to Zimbabwe.
Zim Food Cleared
The South African Department of Agriculture has helped the SACC to certify that the emergency food supplies being shipped to Zimbabwe are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Relief shipments have been blocked by the Zimbabwe government's refusal to accept the documentation originally provided by the food supplier.
Church Leaders Bless Initial Zim Aid
Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane led prayers for the people of Zimbabwe at today's "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe" blessing ceremony on a busy Johannesburg street. The consignment of 37 tons of food and nearly 5 000 blankets is the first SACC relief shipment to victims of "Operation Murambatsvina".
Church Leaders to Bless Zim Relief
Details of the ceremony of blessing to take place at the South African Council of Churches headquarters, Khotso House, on Monday as part of the "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe" initiative.
First SA Church Aid for Zimbabwe
More information on the first shipment of Operation Hope for Zimbabwe relief supplied to be sent off by the SACC on Monday, 1 August.
"Operation Hope for Zimbabwe" to Send First Batch of Relief
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) will dispatch a container of relief supplies to churches in Zimbabwe next week as the first outcome of "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe". SACC members will announce their pledges to the campaign at a press briefing at Khotso House at 14h00 on Monday, 1 August.
Christian Bodies Worldwide Call for Inquiry into Attack on HIV Activists
The World Council of Churches, the SACC and two dozen other church and ecumenical bodies on six continents have written to South African officials to call for an investigation of the 12 July attack by police on a peaceful Treatment Action Campaign demonstration outside Frontier Hospital in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. Fifty-four people were injured when police used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse TAC activists campaigning for accelerated roll-out of the government's antiretroviral therapy programme.
Church Leaders Launch "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe
Following on the action by the Central Committee in condemning the Zimbabwean government's "Operation Murambatsvina", a second pastoral delegation has returned from Harare calling for the launch of a massive relief campaign dubbed "Operation Hope for Zimbabwe.
SACC Pastoral Delegation to Zimbabwe Reports
Speaking to the Central Committee of the SACC on their return from a pastoral visit to communities affected by the Zimbabwean government's "Operation Murambatsvina", Prof. Russel Botman and other church leaders described the "shocking" suffering they witnessed. They called on South African churches to launch a National Campaign of Relief, to write letters of solidarity and to pray for the people of Zimbabwe.
Churches Leaders to Visit Zimbabwe
In light of recent reports on the situation in Zimbabwe, the SACC and the All Africa Conference of Churches are co-ordinating a pastoral visit to Harare by a delegation of senior church leaders. The delegation will be led by Prof. Russel Botman, President of the SACC, and Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.
SA Churches to Present Further Tsunami Relief Funds
On behalf of the SACC, the General Secretary will present a representative of the Fellowship of Christian Councils of Churches in Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) with a further R500 000 in relief funds on 6 July. The gift comes six months after a tsunami devastated much of South Asia and the east coast of Africa.
Methodist Church Leaders Speak Out on Zimbabwe
Leaders of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa have called on President Mbeki to revise the South African Government's present policy on refugees from Zimbabwe, called for their humane treatment, and warned of potential genocide in that country.
WCC Condemns Forced Evictions in Zimbabwe
The World Council of Churches has written to Zimbabwe's Minister of Justice to protest the forced evictions associated with Operation Murambatsvina, which has left more than 200,000 homeless. The letter highlights similar concerns expressed by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference.
Church Leaders Herald "New Era" of Children's Rights in SA
Church leaders, including the SACC's General Secretary and Senior Vice President and Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Chair of the South African Church Leaders' Forum, have welcomed the passage of the Children's Bill. Nine years in the making, the landmark legislation gives further recognition to children's rights and regulates the way in which the state deals with vunerable children. Dr. Tsele called the Bill "an appropriate and timely indication of our shared political and moral will to shape our nation around values of mutual care and accountability".
Zuma Decision Shows Strength of SA Democracy
Following President Mbeki's announcement that Deputy President Jacob Zuma has been relieved of his duties, the General Secretary expressed pride in the strength of South Africa's Constitution and respect for the Deputy President's "enormous and laudable contributions ... to freedom and democracy" in South Africa and across Africa.
SACC Delegation to Meet with Deputy President
A pastoral delegation of senior clerics will meet with Deputy President Jacob Zuma to express the concern of the churches and provide a ministry of accompaniment to the Deputy President as he considers the implications of the recent Durban High Court judgement in the Schabir Shaik corruption trial.
EAPPI Observer Reflects on His Experiences
Maj. Paul Khantsi, Ecumenical Representative Officer for the Salvation Army in South Africa, is currently serving in the West Bank village of Yanoun as part of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). In this article, prepared for the Salvation Army magazine, he reflects on his experiences and the importance of EAPPI.
Four Pastors Head List of 18 New Ecumenical Accompaniers in WCC Programme
Four pastors, including three of the five South African delegates, are part of the latest group of 18 Ecumenical Accompaniers to arrive in Israel and Palestine under a two-year-old World Council of Churches programme. Accompaniers work with local churches and non-governmental organisations in Israel and Palestine in an effort to reduce the brutality of the Occupation and improve daily life for people on both sides of the border.
Don't Be Confused by Unproven Medical Claims, SACC Warns
The SACC expressed concern about a recent series of advertisements sponsored by Dr. Matthias Rath. The ads allege that anti-retroviral medications are toxic and claim that AIDS can be effectively treated with multivitamins. They also grossly misrepresent the motivations and strategy of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). The SACC reaffirmed its support for the TAC and its right to protect its name through legal action. In an effort to dispel any confusion generated by these ads, the SACC reiterated its understanding that, according to the best available medical evidence, adequate nutrition and appropriate medical treatment - including antiretroviral therapy where clinically indicated - both play an important role in sustaining and improving the lives of people living with HIV.
Interfaith Service Marches for Trade Justice
Singing "Siyahamba - We are marching in the light of God", faith leaders from Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions led 500 worshippers on a procession from St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, opposite the Houses of Parliament. During the service, organised as part of the Global Week of Action on Trade, Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane made an impassioned plea for an end to poverty and unjust trade rules. Textile workers, whose jobs are being threatened by imports of cheap goods produced under sweatshop conditions in other parts of the world, also spoke movingly of their plight.
Queenspark Visit Marks Start of Global Week of Action on Trade
A group of 30 religious, labour and community leaders observed the beginning of the Global Week of Action on Trade by paying a visit to clothing retailer Queenspark's outlet in fashionable Cavendish Square shopping mall. The delegation presented a memorandum to the store's manager, calling on Queenspark to sign a local procurement agreement and on Queenspark's parent company, Rex Trueform, to negotiate with workers to prevent closure of its Salt River garment factory. Mall security banned cameras from the premises - citing the need to protect their clients' "intellectual property rights" - so the delegation held an impromptu press conference on the pavement outside the mall.
Statements on the Zimbabwe Elections
At a joint press conference in Johannesburg on 7 April, the members of the Zimbabwe Observer Consortium (the SACC, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, SANGOCO, IDASA, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, and the Centre for Policy Studies) released a statement assessing the 31 March Zimbabwe parliamentary elections. The Consortium lauded the "bravery and demeanour of Zimbabweans who contributed to what was largely a peaceful election day" but concluded that the election "has fallen short of ... stringent SADC standards". At the same time, some of the Consortium members, including the SACC, released their own supplemental statements. The SACC statement celebrated the unexpected peacefulness of the elections and urged all parties to work together to address the suffering of Zimbabwe's people.
South African Churches Celebrate the Life of Pope John Paul II
"This is not a time to mourn the passing of a friend, but a moment to celebrate a life lived faithfully and in solidarity with the poor of the world," said Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Chair of the South African Church Leaders' Forum, about the death yesterday of Pope John Paul II, one of history's longest serving pontiffs. The SACC General Secretary remembered the Holy Father as "a friend of South Africa and a supporter of the struggle for democracy, human rights and dignity for all."
SACC General Secretary Refused Entry to Zimbabwe
Dr. Molefe Tsele, the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, and Mr. Abie Ditlhake, the General Secretary of the SADC NGO Council, were prohibited from entering Zimbabwe to take part in observing the country's general election, scheduled for 31 March.
SACC Warns Observers Not to Prejudge Zimbabwe's Election
Following a number of premature statements concerning the legitimacy of Zimbabwe's general election, scheduled for 31 March, the General Secretary of the SACC has discouraged observers from prejudging the fairness of the poll. "Making pronouncements on the legitimacy of the election before it even gets underway may undermine confidence in the process, discourage participation and skew the outcome. We must not forget that these are Zimbabwean elections, not South African or SADC elections," Dr. Tsele warned. He said that solidarity actions should be aimed at promoting justice and peace and enabling the people of Zimbabwe to regain control of their lives.
Tribute to Jean-Francois Bill - Pastor, Activist and Theologian
The Rev. Jean-Francois Bill, a former Administrative General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and Moderator of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa, passed away on 12 March, aged 70. Professor Tinyiko Maluleke remembers this remarkable man and his contributions to church and society in South Africa. Hamba kahle, Zukwa!
Save Rex Trueform!
The recently announced closure of Rex Trueform's garment plant in Salt River, Cape Town, threatens to put another 1000 people out of work in an industry that has lost nearly 100 000 formal jobs in the last decade. The SACC and COSATU have come together to form a "Save Jobs Coalition" that is calling on South African textile and footwear retailers to boycott sweatshop-produced goods and to commit to buying at least 75% of their inventory from domestic manufacturers. The Coalition is also calling on government to implement safeguards to protect the clothing and textile industry from unfair competition.
Zimbabwe Elections: SACC Concerned About Accreditation
SACC officials are to lead a team of South African civil society representatives to observe the 31 March elections in Zimbabwe. The observer team has been recruited by a consortium of six South African organisations that came together in response to the African Union's call for civil society to play an active role in Africa's renewal. The SACC General Secretary has asked the Zimbabwe government to approve the consortium's application for accreditation timeously to facilitate the formation of a credible observer delegation.
SACC Calls for a Save Jobs Coalition
As the result of a discussion at the February meeting of the National Executive Committee, the General Secretary has written to the Secretary General of COSATU to express concern about the rapid loss of jobs in the textile industry, to endorse a 75% local procurement agreement in the retail clothing sector and to call on labour, faith-based and community organisations to form a Save Jobs Coalition to promote ethical consumption, fair international labour standards and trade rules, and the creation and retention of quality jobs.
SACC Calls Churches to Mobilise for Justice and Human Rights in Zimbabwe
In a significant departure from its earlier emphasis on pastoral accompaniment of Zimbabwe's churches, the National Executive Committee has urged SACC members to mobilise support for justice, peace and human rights in Zimbabwe. The NEC adopted the resolution, which builds on the position of the 2004 National Conference, after a briefing by the Congress of South African Trade Unions that highlighted the systematic denial of workers' rights in Zimbabwe. "We have heard the cries of ordinary people and trade unionists in Zimbabwe, and we feel we must respond," said the SACC General Secretary, Dr. Molefe Tsele.
SACC Asks ANC to Act Against Komphela for Calling Tutu's View's "Treasonous"
At its meeting of 27-28 February, the National Executive Committee of the SACC expressed "grave disquiet" over remarks attributed to the Chair of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport, the Hon. Butana Komphela. Mr. Komphela reportedly termed "treasonous" the Archbishop Emeritus' view that the current approach to transformation in sport amounted to little more than "tokenism". The NEC has asked the African National Congress to address the situation as a matter of urgency. It will also send a high-level delegation to pay a pastoral visit to Archbishop Tutu.
SACC Says Condoms Not an Inferior Weapon in the Fight Against HIV and AIDS
In the face of further claims by religious leaders that condoms are not safe, the General Secretary of the SACC reaffirmed the Council's position that condoms have a role to play in preventing HIV transmission. "It is entirely appropriate for religious leaders to express their moral and strategic concerns as part of the national debate on HIV and AIDS," Dr. Tsele said. "However, they should not pretend that their ethical misgivings are validated by scientific evidence." Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Chair of the National Church Leaders' Forum, said that there was "broad acceptance [within Christian churches] that condoms are an appropriate and effective means of preventing infection in at least some circumstances."
Condoms Essential Component of Anti-AIDS Strategy, SACC Warns
The General Secretary of the SACC expressed shock and dismay over continuing assertions that condoms "don't work" as a means of preventing HIV transmission. He said that the scientific evidence showed clearly that condoms block the virus when properly used. He attacked the resurgent moral conservatism being fueled by the US President's war on condoms and applauded the South African government for its continuing commitment to condom distribution.
Interfaith Relief Commission Established
Leaders of South Africa's main faith communities -- Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist -- met in Johannesburg on 6 January to form a joint Interfaith Disaster and Humanitarian Relief Commission. The new body is to be a permanent forum that will not only respond to natural disasters, but also health concerns, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and malaria, and African debt.
*** 2004 ***
Church Leaders Respond to Indian Ocean Tsunami
SACC President Prof Russel Botman and other church leaders responded to the "seaquake" and resulting tsunami that caused untold suffering in many countries bordering on the Indian Ocean. They announced the creation of a special relief fund and called on churches to take up special offerings to assist the survivors of the disaster.
SACC Christmas Letter Calls for Love, Respect and Dignity for All
In his Christmas message to all South Africans, the General Secretary of the SACC writes: "Poverty, in a world that currently produces a surplus of goods, is an affront to all that God intends for humanity." He reiterates the Churches' call for the introduction of a Basic Income Grant as a small, practical step toward making love, respect and dignity a tangible reality for the poorest in South Africa.
Challenge Magazine Publishes Beyers Naudé Memorial Souvenir
To celebrate the life and work of Dr. Beyers "Oom Bey" Naudé, the former SACC General Secretary who passed away in September, Challenge Magazine and the SACC Communications Unit have published a 16-page "memorial souvenir" entitled "Beyers Naudé: A Man of Faith".
SACC Urges Caution in Wake of Marriage Ruling
Following the Supreme Court of Appeals' 30 November ruling that the common law definition of marriage must be developed to include same-sex couples, the General Secretary encouraged churches to respond to the action thoughtfully and with respect for the Constitution. He proposed separating the legal and religious aspects of marriage and called on churches to assist the Law Commission in developing new legislation that respects both the Constituion's equality clause and the varied and deeply-held religious beliefs of South Africans.
Statement on Archbishop Tutu's Nelson Mandela Lecture
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg on 23 November touched off a vigourous public debate on matters such as black economic empowerment, the basic income grant, and HIV/AIDS policy. The SACC welcomes that debate as a sign of a healthy democracy, but urges participants, including the media, to "resist the temptation to highlight and sensationalise personal differences."
Transcending Racism Report Finds Both Hurt and Hope
The SACC's Transcending Racism programme, revived in November 2003, surveyed church leaders and congregations earlier this year to assess progress in dealing with racism and exploitation in church and community. The survey's findings provide the basis for a number of recommendations to the SACC National Executive and the Church Leaders Forum intended to help facilitate the process of social transformation.
South African Accompaniers Share Apartheid Experiences
Six South African participants in the WCC's Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel identified some of the lessons learned from the struggle against apartheid that might assist Palestinians struggling to liberate themselves from the Israeli Occupation.
SACC Pays Tribute to Struggle Hero Ray Alexander
The General Secretary paid tribute to the late Ray Alexander, calling her "a champion for the cause of the worker and the poor as well as a pioneer in the struggle for women's rights in South Africa".
Hamba Kahle, Dr. Beyers Naudé
The South African Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement mourn the passing of Rev. Dr. Beyers Naudé, who died on 7 September 2004. Funeral services will be held at 14h00 on 18 September at the Dutch Reformed Church (Aasvoelkop), Lawley Avenue, Northcliff, Johannesburg.
Triennial National Conference Adopts Resolutions on Variety of Topics
The 2004 Triennial National Conference of the SACC met at the Cedar Park Conference Centre in Johannesburg from 11 to 14 July. Delegates from the SACC's 26 member denominations, 9 provincial councils and affiliated organisations adopted 21 resolutions on topics related to regional issues, economic and social justice, theological education, family life, and a variety of other matters.
First Group of South African Accompaniers Joins EAPPI
The first group of four ecumenical accompaniers from South Africa join a team of thirteen people from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to work with churches, community groups and non-governmental oragnisations in Palestine and Israel. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is modeled on the Ecumenical Monitoring Programme in South Africa, which operated from 1990 to 1994.
FOOD IS LIFE! Statement of an SACC Consultation on GMOs
The SACC held an ecumenical consultation on genetically modified organisms in Midrand at the end of May. The delegates' final statement affirms the right of access to food, condemns the delinking of science and ethics, and calls for action by churches and government to identify sustainable and responsible mechanisms to enhance food security.
Bishop Mpumlwana Delivers Homily at SACC World Cup Prayer Service
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, Bishop of the Northern Diocese of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church, delivered the homily at a prayer service on the eve of FIFA's announcement of the country chosen to host the 2010 football World Cup. He gave thanks for the unifying effect of South Africa's bid and called for "good stewardship of the opportunities that the success of our bid will bring".
SACC Supports South Africa's 2010 World Cup Bid
SACC General Secretary Dr. Molefe Tsele says that the Council backs South Africa's bid to host the 2010 football World Cup, in part because of the expected job creation and other economic benefits that will directly affect poor households in South Africa. He announced that the Council would hold a prayer service in advance of the announcement of the winning bid, due on 15 May.
SACC to Join Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
With the backing of the Christian Council of Sweden, the South African Council of Churches will send ten "Ecumenical Accompaniers" to Palestine and Israel later this year to take part in a World Council of Churches programme intended to promote respect for human rights, express solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and show that non-violence can promote justice, peace and an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. Volunteers are invited to contact the Rev. Canon Luke Pato, head of the SACC's Reconciliation and Healing programme.
SACC Celebrates Peaceful, Transparent Elections
The South African Council of Churches says that the fair and peaceful elections are "an appropriate present as our nation celebrates the Decade of Freedom and Democracy". The Council commended civil society observers, the Independent Electoral Commission, security forces, the media and voters for their contribution to the success of South Africa's third democratic election. Noting the possible need for peace-building following the election, church leaders offered to assist in mediating any disputes that might arise from the election.
Civil Society Observers Say Election "Free and Fair"
The South African Civil Society Observation Coalition (SACSOC), an initiative co-ordinated by the SACC and other civil society organisations, pronounced South Africa's third democratic election "free and fair". The Coalition deployed observers in all nine provinces, including 1 800 volunteers in KwaZulu-Natal. Although obesrevers experienced difficulty in gaining access to polling stations in certain areas, these obstacles were overcome. SACSOC commended the preparedness and efficiency of the IEC, but said that there was room for improvement in the training of electoral officers at the polling stations.
SACC Asks President Mbeki to Spark Zimbabwe Talks
The South African Council of Churches has written an urgent letter to President Thabo Mbeki asking him to send a delegation to Harare to revive talks between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Movement for Democratic Change. The General Secretary of the SACC said that the Church in Zimbabwe is "counting on us to assist them in finding a resolution to their acute economic and political crisis".
Ecumenical Movement Mourns the Death of Archbishop Denis Hurley
Ecumenical leaders, including former SACC General Secretary Frank Chikane, have paid tribute to the late Archbishop Denis Hurley, who died on 13 February, aged 88. In a memorial service at Khotso House, Archbishop Hurley was remembered as a tireless advocate for social and economic justice, a courageous opponent of apartheid, and a man of humility. The Archbishop's body will lie in state at Emmanuel Cathedral on 26 and 27 February, before the funeral, to be held at Durban's ABSA Stadium on Saturday, 28 February.
Civil Society Organisations Object to GM Wheat Imports
The SACC and 38 other civil society organisations have written to South Africa's Registrar of Genetically Modified Organisms to express their joint opposition to the granting of permission to the US chemical firm, Monsanto, to import genetically modified wheat into South Africa. The letter raised concerns about the uncertain human and environmental impact of the modified wheat and warned that South Africa must not become a gateway for dumping GM crops throughout the continent.
Churches Commend Proposed Social Assistance Regulations
In a letter to the Director-General of the Department of Social Development, the Director of the SACC Parliamentary Office, the Rev. Keith Vermeulen, welcomed proposed amendments to regulations published in terms of the Social Assistance Act that would improve access to social grants, especially the Child Support Grant. The proposed changes would make forms of identification other than a birth certificate or a bar-coded ID document acceptable as interim proof of a child's eligibility for a grant.
SACC Calls for Peaceful and Fair Election
The General Secretary applauded President Mbeki's announcement of the April 14 date for South Africa's third democratic national elections and called on all political parties to ensure that the poll is peaceful and fair. He announced that the SACC would work with other non-partisan civil society organisations to observe the elections through the South African Civil Society Observation Coalition and offered the Council's support to the Independent Electoral Commission.
SACC Commends President Mbeki's Call to Celebrate Progress to National Unity
The SACC welcomed President Mbeki's State of the Nation address at the Opening of Parliament and applauded the government's continuing commitment to a "people-centred society". The General Secretary said that churches have a role in realising that vision and, in particular, in working with government to promote poverty eradication.
Hefer Report a Landmark for Democracy
The SACC has welcomed the release of the Hefer commission report on its inquiry into apartheid-era spying allegations against National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka. The General Secretary, Dr. Tsele, hailed the process as a sign of the strength and maturity of South Africa's democracy and urged further follow-up to address concerns raised in the report.
*** 2003 ***
Reconsider N2 Toll Road, Says SACC
The SACC has appealed to the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to withdraw approval for the construction of a controversial toll road through the Eastern Cape's Wild Coast to permit broader discussion of the plan.
SACC Responds to Law Commission Discussion Paper on Domestic Partnerships
The SACC articulates a preliminary response to the South African Law Reform Commission's long-awaited proposals to harmonise marriage laws with the Constitution.
World AIDS Day Message
In a message issued to coincide with World AIDS Day, the SACC urges cooperation between government and faith communities to accelerate the delivery of life-giving anti-retroviral medications to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Churches Call for Simpler PBO Tax System
The SACC has asked the Portfolio Committee on Finance to facilitate compliance with the new tax laws for Public Benefit Organisations by creating a simpler system of registration for small PBOs. The Council also asked for relaxation of the limits imposed on trading by PBOs.
SACC Condemns eMsinga Truck Massacre
In the wake of a truck accident that claimed 15 lives in KwaZulu-Natal, SACC General Secretary Dr. Molefe Tsele extended condolences to the families of the victims and called on government to improve road safety and eliminate the need for pensioners to travel long distances to collect their pension payments.
Defence Ministry Fuels Stigma
The SACC urges the Minister of Defence to rethink his recent announcement that people living with HIV/AIDS will no longer be accepted into the Defence Force. "It is immoral to consider a person living with HIV/AIDS as unfit for service within the Defence Force," said the SACC's HIV/AIDS Programme Director, Fr. Gary Thompson.
Social Protection Policy Must Shape Legislative Agenda
The SACC calls for deferment of action on the Social Assistance Bill until an overarching policy framework can be developed to guide new legislative initiatives. The Council noted that key aspects of the proposed Bill were inconsistent with the priorities articulated in the 1997 White Paper on Social Welfare.
Churches Urge Government to Let Prisoners, Citizens Abroad Vote
In comments on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, the Council expressed concern about plans to disenfranchise all convicted prisoners and South African citizens resident abroad.
Gambling Policy Must Protect Communities, Strengthen Participation
The SACC urged lawmakers to adopt national gambling legislation that includes stronger measures to promote social responsibility in the industry, to protect vulnerable communities, and to enhance community participation in decisions about the situation of casinos other licensed gambling premises.
SACC Asks Parliament to Make 18 the Age of Consent
In a parliamentary submission on the Sexual Offenses Bill, the Council supports a uniform age of consent, but asks that this be set at 18. The SACC also raised concerns about plans to expand the definition of rape to include otherwise consensual acts where one partner conceals his or her HIV status.
SACC Urges Churches to Participate in Domestic Partnership Debate
In a letter to all SACC members, the General Secretary welcomed the publication of the SA Law Reform Commission's Discussion Paper on Domestic Partnerships and urged the Council's members to take part in the consultative process devised by the Commission to solicit public opinion on its proposals.
SACC Media Release on the UDF and Dr Allan Boesak
The SACC extends congratulations to the United Democratic Front on the occasion of its 20th anniversary and expresses sadness about Dr Allan Boesak's failure to take part in the anniversary celebrations.
A Sportsman Sails His Way Home
The General Secretary expresses shock and sadness over the tragic and untimely death of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana striker Lesley Manyathela.
Churches Unite Against Poverty
The SACC Central Committee held its annual meeting in Johannesburg 11-12 August 2003 under the theme "Churches Unite Against Poverty". Delegates from the SACC's 24 member churches adopted resolutions on a wide range of issues, including poverty and social security, HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwe, sexual violence, criminal justice, reparations, engagement with the Afrikaner community, the 2004 general election, and South Africa's first decade of democracy.
SACC Wishes Former President Mandela a Happy 85th Birthday
The General Secretary extended birthday greetings to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 85th birthday. "You continue to teach us to be able to live with difference and to accept diversity and otherness. As the community of believers, we are indebted to you," said Dr. Tsele.
Joint SACC/Umsobomvu Youth Fund Media Statement
The SACC and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund announce a joint one-year training programme to provide more than 500 unemployed graduates around the country with training and skills development programmes designed to enhance their marketability.
SACC Condemns "Necklace" Killings
In the wake of the horrifying "necklace" murders of two suspected criminals, the SACC calls on communities to work with the police to apprehend criminals and pledges to send delegation to Braamfischerville to meet with community leaders.
SACC Statement on Sam Ramsamy
The SACC expresses concern about alleged corruption within the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and calls for a comprehensive investigation of the sports body and its President, Mr Sam Ramsamy.
Property Rates Must Facilitate Redistribution and Social Delivery Says SACC
In a Parliamentary submission on the Property Rates Bill, the South African Council of Churches has called for property rates to enhance economic justice and to create a favourable environment for all public benefit organisations. The Council also called for a continuation of the existing rates exemption for places of public worship.
SACC Responds to President Mbeki's TRC Speech
The SACC responded to President Mbeki's 15 April Speech in Parliament on the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The General Secretary welcomed the government's prompt response but said that the TRC's "closed list" policy threatened to stifle the stories of many victims of apartheid who felt unable to appear before the Commission.
Church Leaders' Resolution on HIV/AIDS
The SACC brought Church leaders together on 11 April at the Nelson Mandela Foundation to discuss the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on children. The participants confessed that the Church has not done enough to stop new infection and called for national and local action to "avert national calamity among our young people".
National Conference on Multinational Reparations
The SACC announced on 10 April that it would work with other popular organisations to convene a national reparations conference to build a coherent strategy for addressing apartheid reparations from domestic and foreign banks and multinationals.
WEC Applaud Extension of UIF Benefits to Domestic Workers
The SACC's Women's Ecumenical Conference (WEC) congratulated the government on the recent extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits to domestic and seasonal workers and called on all employers to comply with minimum wage rulings and unemployment insurance legislation.
Statement of the WCC/AACC Pan-African Ecumenical Consultation on NEPAD
Ecumenical representatives of 24 African nations gathered at the Eskom Conference Centre in Johannesburg 23-26 March 2003 to discuss the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and to develop ways of increasing public awareness of the plan, enhancing popular involvement in its implementation and enriching its spiritual and cultural dimensions.
SACC General Says a General Amnesty for Apartheid-Era Human Rights Violations is "Not the Moral Option"
In an article for the 23 March 2003 Sunday Times, Dr. Tsele suggests that a general amnesty on human rights violations would be "a fatal moral misdemeanor" for political expediency.
Churches Say War Will Not Bring Justice to Iraq
In a statement released shortly after the United States and the United Kingdom commenced the bombardment of Baghdad on 20 March, the South African Council of Churches sharply criticised the attacks, warning that "War holds out little hope for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East." The SACC said that the United Nations was "part of the solution, not part of the problem" and called for the international body to be allowed to play a central role in resolving the crisis.
SACC General Secretary Commends Conviction of Racist Attackers
The General Secretary welcomed the conviction of two officers for setting their dogs on Mozambican immigrants, ostensibly as part of a "training exercise". "We are watching with interest if the sentence on them will match their heinous crime," Dr. Tsele said.
SACC General Secretary Condemns Racist Farm Murder
Dr. Tsele condemned the apparently racially-motivated murder of a farm worker in Mpumalanga province last week. "It is unfortunate that acts of racism still dominate our national life," the General Secretary said. He also raised concerns over suggestions that the police may have helped to conceal evidence.
SACC Signs Anti-War Declaration
The SACC has joined dozens of religious, peace, political, cultural and business organisations in demanding a peaceful resolution of the current dispute between the United States and Iraq. The declaration warns that "war against Iraq is wrong ... because it is the poor who will be its main victims."
SACC Endorses TAC Call for National Treatment Plan
At a press conference in Cape Town on the eve of the State Opening of Parliament, the SACC joined with other religious bodies in endorsing the Treatment Action Campaign's call on the government to sign the framework for a National HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention Plan, negotiated at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).
*** 2002 ***
Implement TRC Reparations Recommendations, SACC Tells Government
The SACC says that legal challenges to the final sections of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report should not become an excuse to delay the payment of reparations. The SACC offers to assist the government in locating those eligible for reparations and in monitoring the distribution of benefits.
TRC Consultation Resolution
At a consultation on the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, convened by the SACC at end of November, participants called on the government to implement the TRC's recommendations without further delay and urged member churches and provincial councils to facilitate reconciliation, healing, and the payment of reparations.
Church Leaders' Forum Discuss Bombings
The Church Leaders' Forum met in Johannesburg on 29 November 2002 to discuss the recent spate of bombings. They expressed solidarity with Muslim sisters and brothers, called on all political parties to support the government's efforts to address the right-wing threat, and announced an interfaith march of solidarity to take place on 15 December.
SACC Condemns Gauteng Bombs
The General Secretary condemned the "barbaric" bombings in Soweto and Bronkhorstspruit on 30 October, extended the Council's sympathies to the family of the late Mamatsieng Mokone, and pledged continued cooperation with the Muslim and Buddhist communities.
SACC Mourns the Death of Mary Mxadana
The SACC mourns the 10 October death of Mary Mxadana, a former senior employee of the South African Council of Churches, personal assistant to President Nelson Mandela and a leading member of Soweto's Imilonji kaNtu Choral Society.
SACC National Executive Acts on a Range of Issues
The SACC National Executive Committee met at Kempton Park Conference Centre in Bonaero Park, 2-3 October 2002, to take action on a range of issues including Zimbabwe, the National Lottery, Reconciliation, the Basic Income Grant and Iraq.
SACC NEC Statement on HIV/AIDS
The SACC National Executive Committee called on churches to be "Christlike" in responding to those infected and affected by the virus, to explore practical ways to demonstrate God's love and compassion through programmes of care, testing and counseling and to address the issue of stigmatisation as a matter of urgency.
SACC National Executive Calls for BIG Christmas Campaign
The SACC National Executive Committee reaffirmed the SACC's support for the introduction of a universal Basic Income Grant to help combat poverty and food insecurity and voted to make the Grant the focus of the Council's annual Christmas public awareness campaign.
SACC Salutes Steve Biko
On the 25th anniversary of Steve Biko's assassination, the SACC remembers and celebrates the life of a leader with an "insatiable quest" for liberation who inspired a generation of church leaders "to look afresh at the Bible".
SACC Statement on Iraq and 11 September
The SACC joins with the World Council of Churches, the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, Pax Christi, and people of faith around the world in expressing concern about the United States' menacing attitude toward Iraq and calling on the superpower to use diplomatic channels to address its concerns.
SACC Leaders Visit SANDF Peacekeeping Troops in Burundi
A delegation of clergy from SACC member churches made a pastoral visit to South African troops on a peacekeeping assignment in Burundi. The visit also provided an opportunity for interaction between the SACC and the National Council of Churches in Burundi.
General Secretary Meets Swedish Official to Discuss Arms Deal
During the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the SACC General Secretary met with the Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Sweden to discuss South Africa's option to purchase 19 more Saab jet fighters. The following day, an open letter to the people of Sweden, signed by the heads of the SACC, COSATU and SANGOCO, was published in the Swedish press.
Dr Boesak Tells WSSD Delegates: "A Voice is Needed!"
Preaching at an ecumenical service in Alexandra organised by the World Council of Churches and the SACC to mark the opening of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Reverend Dr. Allan Boesak tells worshippers: "We are here at this world summit to be heard, to speak, boldly and unhesitatingly, for the sake of justice, truth and the survival of humanity." Read his full sermon.
SACC and SANDF Chaplains Commit to Working Together
In an historic meeting, the SACC agreed to work together with the SANDF chaplains' service to minister to members of the armed forces. The first opportunity for cooperation will come at the beginning of September when senior church leaders will visit South African peace-keeping forces deployed in Burundi.
World Summit on Sustainable Development
The World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place in Johannesburg, 19 August to 4 September 2002. Churches and religious organisations, including the SACC, have organised a number of parallel events to highlight the need for a just, people-centred and environmentally-responsible global development path. See a listing of events, day-by-day.
Advocate McCaps Motimele's Resignation as Chair of the UNISA Council
The SACC General Secretary comments on the 14 August resignation of UNISA Council Chair McCaps Motimele.
SACC Responds to Snow Emergency in Eastern Cape
Unprecedented snowfalls have paralysed a number of communities in the Eastern Cape, burying houses and exposing families to extreme cold. The SACC has responded by delivering blankets to the area and has called on member churches in the affected areas to "open their hearts" to those in need.
SACC Statement on the SA Municipal Workers' Union Strike
The SACC deplores the vandalism associated with the current strike and calls on Salga to respond "humanely and in a just manner" to workers' wage demands.
SACC Statement on Environmental Justice
At its meeting of 4 July 2002, the SACC Central Committee called on the world to "live in harmony with nature and each other".
NEC Releases Discussion Document on NEPAD
At its meeting of 5 June, the SACC National Executive Committee received a document entitled Un-blurring the Vision, and commended it to members for discussion and study.
Gauteng Liquor Bill Ignores Church Views
The SACC National Executive Committee has expressed anger about the insensitive manner in which the Gauteng provincial government has pressed ahead with plans to legalise Sunday liquor sales. At a 6 June press conference, SACC General Secretary Dr. Molefe Tsele condemned the decision as "arrogant" and "hurtful".
SACC General Secretary Condemns Student Violence
In a 28 May statement, SACC General Secretary Dr. Molefe Tsele recent vandalism by students at the University of the North and in Johannesburg.
SACC Hails Lesotho Poll
The SACC congratulated the people of Lesotho on the successful completion of their general election.
Church Agencies Say HIV/AIDS Stigma Is "Un-Christian"
SACC Programme Director for Health, Fr. Gary Thompson, tells South Africans: "Do not stigmatise people living with HIV/AIDS. It is wrong to do so; it is un-Christian and another form of injustice." The SACC will team up with Church World Service to convey this message of hope at a musical concert at Soweto's Regina Mundi Catholic Church at 3:00 pm on Sunday, 12 May 2002.
SACC Media Statement on the Death of Shirley Sebenya
The SACC deplores the murder of Shirley Sebenya, wife of Ebenezer Evangelical Church minister Rev. Itumeleng Sebenya, on 21 April 2002 during a brutal hijacking. The SACC General Secretary, Dr. Molefe Tsele, reiterated the Council's support for the Moral Regeneration Movement launched last week and expressed the hope that the Movement will become a "beacon of hope" to all who confront such incidents of brutality on a daily basis.
SACC Consultation Calls on All Stakeholders to Join Hands in the Fight Against AIDS
SACC Communications Head Joe Mdhlela reports on the outcome of the SACC's 8-10 April 2002 consultation on HIV/AIDS.
SACC Disturbed by New Arms Purchases
The SACC responds to the South African government's decision to take up the second tranche of the strategic defence procurement deal signed in 1999.
SACC Media Release on Zimbabwe, NEPAD, AIDS
A 3 April 2002 media release from the SACC addresses a range of topics including the Zimbabwean elections, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), and recent developments on HIV/AIDS.
Zimbabwe Presidential Election Observers' Reports
Read the report of the team of international ecumenical peace observers from the World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches invited to assist the Zimbabwe Council of Churches in observing the Zimbabwe Presidential Elections, 9-10 March 2002. Read also the report of the multi-sectoral South African Observer Mission appointed by President Mbeki. Both teams included representatives of the South African Council of Churches.
SACC Response to the 2002/2003 National Budget
Statement analysing the impact of the 2002/2003 national budget, issued by the SACC at the end of a Budget Week workshop in Cape Town, 18-22 February 2002, sponsored by the Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation.
*** 2001 ***
SACC and NLC Convene a National Land Indaba
The South African Council of Churches and the National Land Committee held a national consultation on land reform in Kempton Park, 7-9 December 2001. The indaba adopted a final statement calling for land expropriation, restrictions on land ownership and other measures to promote just and equitable access to land.
SACC Calls for Action on Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV
The SACC signals its support for the objectives of the Treatment Action Campaign's law suit against the government and calls for calls for South Africans to "rediscover common ground" in the battle against AIDS.
GS Calls the Church to be a 'Nuisance'
The SACC General Secretary told a Diakonia Council of Churches Breakfast Briefing in Durban on 30 October 2001 that "the Church must once again become a 'nuisance' to the nation".
SACC Meets Minister of Defence
The SACC National Executive Committee and other church leaders met with the Minister of Defence on 26 October to discuss concerns about the strategic defence acquisition programme.
NEC Response to Events of 11 September
The SACC National Executive Committee adopted a statement calling for justice in the wake of the 11 September tragedies in the United States.
Towards an Agenda for New Patriotism and Responsible Citizenship
The SACC General Secretary delivered the opening address to the National Waste Summit in Pietersburg, Northern Province on 25 September 2001. The Summit was convened to discuss plans to implement the government's March 2000 White Paper on an Integrated Pollution and Waste Management Strategy for South Africa. In his address, "Towards an Agenda for New Patriotism and Responsible Citizenship", Dr. Tsele called on South Africans to "recapture the Green Agenda and realign it with Brown issues of landlessness, poverty, migration and underdevelopment.
The SACC Triennial Conference was held on August 14-17 at the Liban Conference Centre, Woodmead, Johannesburg (corner of Western Service and Mount Lebanon Roads). The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser was the guest of honour.
Statement on Bredell Evictions
Statement of Bishop Mvume Dandala, President of the SACC on behalf of the SACC National Executive Committee on the Bredell Evictions of 12 July, 2001.
International Conference on Racism
Bishop Mvume Dandala, SACC President and Dr. Molefe will lead the SACC delegation to the World Conference Against Racism on August 31 to Spetember 7, 2001.