Call for peaceful elections

Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, South African Council of Churches

As the country and its various political parties prepare for the 2016 municipal elections in August, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) appeals to every South African to retain the spirit of peace, in the expression of our constitutional right to freedom of political affiliation.

The conflict over lists and assignment of office bearers by political parties is part of South Africa’s current constitutional dispensation, as a party candidate cannot stand on his/her own, and declare a desire to be considered by the community.

However, a tendency is growing, where, when such assignments are made by political parties, whoever is unhappy with that decision can mobilise for protests that violently destab-ilise the political and social environment.

The ugly scenes we have witnessed in Tshwane are totally out of place in the democratic culture of our country, and we condemn this in the strongest possible terms.

People can and should feel free to express themselves within the structures of their chosen parties, but no one has a right to break down all social order, which has nothing to do with their chosen party, in order to vent their party frustrations.

The SACC is also saddened by the even more deadly phen-omenon of political assassinations, particularly KwaZulu-Natal.

Too many lives were lost in our struggle for democracy – and yet, even in sovereign freedom, killings continue.

To anchor our democracy in integrity of processes, the SACC requests that local churches intensify prayers and pastoral interventions in communities where peace must be restored, to maintain orderly coexistence across political divisions.

We appeal to leaders of all political parties in the run-up to the August 3 local government elections to exercise much prudence and temperance in managing sensitive political situations, and to help contain dissent.