Bishop Abel Gabuza, the chairperson of SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, has cautioned that the current uncertainties around the future of the finance minister and the treasury are not in the interest of the poorest of the poor.
“In the context of the current fragile economy, and given the enormous hardships that the poor are already facing in our country, it is ethically improper of our political leaders to create uncertainties around the treasury and diminish the country’s ability to avert a credit-rating downgrade that would hurt the poor. That is why we are calling on the presidency and the parliament to do more to intervene in the current crisis around the treasury.”
A group of business leaders and academics made similar calls last week.
But President Zuma said on Thursday that, while he has confidence in the finance minister, he could not bring a halt to the probe even if it was negatively affecting the economy.
Bishop Gabuza has however insisted that the President can and should do more.
“We ask the president to intervene in the current impasse in a manner that assures the country that the probe against the finance minister is not politically motivated.”
He added: “As there is a lot at stake for the economy and the poor, we ask the president to offer the country a greater level of assurance that the Hawks’ probe against the finance minister was not initiated as a part of a broader ploy to remove the finance minister from office and weaken treasury’s capacity to fight tender corruption and inefficient governance of state owned enterprises.”
“The statement that the presidency issued last week has failed to offer such a high level of assurance. More needs to be done.”
Gordham is accused for allegedly breaking anti-spying laws by setting up an unauthorized unit at the South African Revenue Service, or SARS, and facilitating a generous early-retirement package for the unit’s leader.
Analysts have argued that the probe of the finance minister is politically motivated and is designed to justify his removal from his post in a broader cabinet reshuffle.
They have also argued that the charges mentioned in the police summons to the finance minister have no basis in facts and in law.
Commenting on this development, Bishop Gabuza has said that “we continue to affirm and emphasize that all South Africans, including the finance ministers, are not above the law.”
At the same time, while, as Church leaders, we do not have the competence to determine the merits and demerits of the alleged criminal case against the finance minister, we strongly caution our political leaders against the use of state agencies and judicial processes to fight their factional battles and advance their narrow interests, without regard to its consequences on the economy and the poor.”
The police summons to Gordhan came just days after the government handed oversight of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises, including the national airline (SAA) and energy company (Eskom), to the president.
This move may make it harder for Gordhan to complete the promised overhaul of the state owned enterprises, which is a part of a broader plan to control government spending and avert a credit-rating downgrade.
One key policy disagreement between the treasury and the presidency has been a plan to build a fleet of nuclear power plants, estimated to cost around $60 billion.
“We wish to state without reserve that we support the finance minister and the treasury in their efforts to clean up tender irregularities and to end inefficient governance of the state owned enterprises, which is a part of a broader plan to avert a credit-rating downgrade. We also support him in his insistence on the need to act in a fiscally responsible manner in relation to the nuclear power plants.” Says Bishop Gabuza.
The annual Winter Living Theology (WLT) School was held last week at St. Luke’s Retreat Centre in Port Elizabeth recently.
Presented by Fr. John Baldovin S.J., Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology from the prestigious Boston College’s School of Ministry and Theology, presented this year’s Winter Living Theology on “Worship and Social Justice – The Implications of Belonging to a Worshipping Community”.
Winter Living Theology is a collaborative venture between the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Jesuit Institute South Africa. This annual event is an opportunity for people in Southern Africa to be exposed to some of the best current theological scholarship in the world. Fr. Baldovin explored all the ways that worship relates to justice: in prayers, rituals, the use of Scripture, the liturgical calendar, music, art and liturgical environment during the School..
Fr. Baldovin has been teaching at universities and seminaries for the past 28 years. He worked for the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) for many years. He is the past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the international ecumenical Societas Liturgica. He is currently president of the international Jungmann Society for Jesuits and the Liturgy. Baldovin has published extensively and is considered to be one of America’s leading liturgical theologians.
The picture at left below shows; from left Ursula van Nierop (Deputy Director – Jesuit Institute), Fr. Russell Pollitt SJ (Director – Jesuit Institute), Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM, Fr. John Baldovin SJ (Presenter WLT 2016) and Fr. Jerry Browne (Vicar for Pastoral Ministry – PE). Picture at right shows all the participants of the Winter School.
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.
Bishop Vincent Mduduze Zungu OFM, Bishop of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, recently opend the new Catholic Resource Centre at the Chancery in Port Elizabeth.
The centr,e known by its acronym CRC, combines the roles of archives, library and repository, adding technology to enable Christian communities to acquire knowledge and ongoing faith formation.
Port Elizabeth Catholics have access to the centre to use its library, research the archives, browse the Internet or buy Catholic merchandise from books to crucifixes to coals and candles—and, of course, The Southern Cross.
The library and repository will be looked after by Denise Steenkamp.
The CRC takes over the functions of the old Cathedral Bookshop, using the old bookshop, as well as the library prmeises.
The launch was preceded by an Open Day during which PE Catholics could find out more about the centre.
At the launch, Bishop Vincent Zungu and diocesan financial administrator Alberto Trobec welcomed dignitaries including Prof Garth Abraham, president of St Augustine College; Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, director of the Jesuit Institute; and Fr John Baldovin SJ from Boston College in the US, who is lecturing the Winter Theology School in South Africa this year.
The launch brought to fruition an idea 30-years in the making, starting with the late Bishop Michael Coleman.
Bishop Zungu described the CRC as the “hearth” of his diocese.
The CRC is structured on the foundations of the diocese’s extensive library of religious books, which will now be made more accessible to the wider public through dissemination of information through the Internet.
The inclusion of the diocesan archive is intended to make local historical information more accessible to the people whom it was designed to serve.
The centre will also serve as a depot for parish’s parcels of The Southern Cross. Due to inefficient postal services the delivery of the newspaper was erratic. The allocations for parishes in the area will now be couriered to the CRC for dispersement.
For information phone Denise Steenkamp on 041373-1686
Fr Xolisile Augustine Kondlo, a young Port Elizabeth priest who was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, has died.
He passed away last week after being in hospital for a week. He was born on 26 October 1978 and Ordained to the Priesthood on 27th Aril 2012.
About a month ago, Gushwell Brooks interviewed him on Radio Veritas’ afternoon drivetime show, Changing Gear, where he described his condition and also made an impassioned plea on organ donation.
He called on the Church to do more awareness campaigns for organ donation and conducted workshops around the country to encourage people to overcome their fears, prejudices and indifference regarding organ donation, thus potentially save countless people.
The young priest founded an organisation called #DonorSaves7Lives which can be found on facebook under the same name.
The Vicar of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, Fr Christopher Slater has expressed shock at the passing of Fr Kondlo and has said he will be remembered as very joyful person who will be dearly missed by the Church and his family.
Fr Slater said the Diocese and indeed his family feel saddened that his life was cut short as they believed the priest had a lot to give and offer the church.
Fr Kondlo died whilst still on the organ donor list.
The Requiem Mass for Fr. Xolisile Kondlo will take place on Tuesday 28th June 2016 at 10am at Pawulos Oyingcwele in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, followed immediately thereafter by the burial at St. Dominic’s Priory, Miramar.
Funeral Programme – Tuesday 28th June 2016
7am - Arrival of body at home.
8am - Departure to the Church.
8:35am – Tributes
Friend: Fiks Mahola
Organ donation presenter
Brother; Andile Kondlo
10am – Requiem Mass
12pm – Departure to St. Dominic’s Priory
"Please continue to pray for the repose of the soul of our beloved Priest and brother. Please also keep in your prayers Father Xolisile’s mother, family, relatives and friends.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace," said Bishop Vincent Zungu OFM.
Below is the interview with Fr Kondlo on Radio Veritas describing his condition and also his impassioned plea on the importance of organ donation.