SACBC Justice and Peace Commission has urged an end to pre-election violence and criticized politicians for fuelling it.
“We are disappointed that our political leaders have not been visible and loud enough in their condemnation of the recent factional violence and political assassinations,” Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, who chairs the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference justice and peace commission, said in a recent statement.
At least three people have been killed in the Tshwane area around South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, in late-June riots triggered by the ruling party’s choice of a mayoral candidate for municipal elections, scheduled for Aug. 3.
Shops have been looted and cars and buses set alight in violent protests over economic hardship.
Politicians “are mobilizing the young people in our communities, especially the unemployed youth, to engage in pre election violence,” Bishop Gabuza said.
He urged young South Africans “not to allow themselves to be used by politicians who show signs that their primary interest is greed for power and government tenders.”
“The peace that we currently enjoy in our country should not be taken for granted. To maintain it, it requires the responsibility of all citizens and political maturity of our leaders, especially during the election period. The current levels
of political violence do not reflect this sense of responsibility,” he warned.
The South African Human Rights Commission warned that politically motivated murders and other acts of intimidation ahead of the polls are endangering citizens’ constitutional rights.
The commission’s mid-June statement came after arrests were made for the murders of two African National Congress members in KwaZulu-Natal province; the murders are said to be politically motivated.
South Africa’s political leaders have not “been vigorous enough in disciplining their candidates and members who are involved in disrupting campaign rallies of other parties and in creating no-go zones,” Bishop Gabuza said.
“At the root of many social ills in our country, including the current upsurge of pre-election violence, one finds greed and patronage politics,” he said.
This political culture must be stopped before it destroys the country and sends it “into a downward spiral from which it will struggle to recover,” he said.
He has also appealed to all eligible South Africans to cast their vote on 3rd August and elect leaders who have the courage to speak out against greed and patronage politics.
The Justice and Peace Commission, in partnership with Diakonia Council of Churches, organised a prayer service for peaceful elections that was held in Durban on 6th July.