[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] South Africa’s church leaders have said that the country is facing a constitutional crisis. In a joint letter, 31 church and other-faith leaders – including the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa – say that the “fees must fall” university protests are just one aspect of a much wider crisis facing the country.
The comments came in a statement issued at the end of the annual National Church Leaders Consultation, which took concluded yesterday at the O R Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
On education, the leaders said that “an education system that is free, decolonised and of high quality, is a just and moral plea for our society to give content to the promise of freedom won in 1994.”
The religious leaders say that the current crises “will come back to haunt us again” unless the current “systemic problems within the education system at large” are addressed.
“As religious leaders we support the quest for solutions by the students, the vice-chancellors, parents and government,” they said. “We acknowledge and applaud the work of mediation, prayer and peace efforts done by different faith leaders across our nation during these difficult times.
“In the days and weeks ahead this work may be even more necessary and we need to be more co-ordinated through the national ecumenical structures.”
But they urged protesting students to “conduct the struggle with the dignity and with due regard for human life and to our national public assets. We urge all role players to strive to conclude the 2016 academic year successfully.”
The leaders also spoke of the “enormous leakage of state funds” and call on “all relevant parties to dig deeper into this matter.
“We are convinced that this situation is aggravating the already desperate situation of the poor. We are thus saying this in solidarity of the poor and pray that justice will prevail.”