The bishops of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference say they are concerned about “the current high levels of unemployment and the rising cost of living and how they disproportionately impact the lives of those at the margins of the economy.”
The bishops denounce the continued preoccupation of the leaders with self-enrichment, party politics and factional battles stating that there’s a need to regularly review the adverse impact of structural reforms on the poor. They appeal to the government to introduce stronger social review mechanism so as to ensure that the austerity measures and other structural reforms are regularly reviewed, “We are scandalised by the government’s decision to increase the salaries of ministers, premiers, MECs and Members of Parliament by 3 per cent,” added the bishops.
The Catholic Bishops are also concerned about the persistent gap between the rich and the poor in our country and how it continues to impose great risk to the country’s economic growth and national security, creating conditions that could fuel violent unrest and social instability. Coupled with the above concern is the one about the vast disparities between the rural and urban economies, which has resulted in the exclusion of the rural poor from equal and significant participation in the country’s economy.
The Eskom Crisis, as well as Transnet’s failing rail infrastructure are also mentioned by the bishops because they negatively impact the lives of the poor and the prospects of economic recovery. On the political front the SACBC says there’s a need for parties to work together in fixing failed municipalities, and all implicated in state capture and other forms of corruption must be held to account.
“Stop the culture of cable theft, non-payment of municipal rates, vandalism, and damage to infrastructure,” notes the bishops as they ask God to continue healing the economy.
Full Statement below