Ahead of the upcoming 2024 General Elections in South Africa, Catholic Bishops in South Africa, Botswana, and Eswatini, have issued a collective pastoral letter, appealing to the faithful to cast their vote, and also consult the Bishops’ Conference’s made-available guidance and resources.
In the pastoral letter released leading up to the national and provincial elections, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) urge believers not to take their having maintained the democratic right to go to the polls and choose their leaders for granted.
The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference is composed of the Catholic Bishops of South Africa, Botswana, and Eswatini.
In their collective text signed by the Conference’s President Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, the Bishops acknowledge the difficult periods during apartheid, and in particular, the country’s transition from apartheid to a constitutional democracy.
The Southern African Bishops recognize that, through this experience, they have come to discover that “we as a people, have the God-given right to rise from the ashes, overcome insurmountable crises and find new paths.”
The SACBC also expresses gratitude for the great efforts of the independent electoral commission and many others who have made great strides to prevent and minimize pre-, and post-electoral violence.
“We strongly appeal to all eligible voters,” they write, “to go out and vote and send a message to incoming parliamentarians. Nobody should remain at home.”
The SACBC also calls upon all parish priests and pastoral councils to ensure that their parishioners are informed about materials and aids which were jointly prepared by the Conference’s Justice and Peace Commission with the Jesuit Institute of South Africa and can be found online, to help them make responsible decisions when voting.