The South African Council of Churches (SACC) this week hosted the first phase of a national convention aimed at reaching broad consensus on public values and standards to facilitate building a just and equitable society.
The convention in Johannesburg, attended by various religious and civil society representatives, is a direct response to state capture and a culture of gross corruption and declining public morality.
The SACC says the crisis in the nation follows the mistake of surrendering public values to the whims of politicians amidst the euphoria of 1994, and that now is the time to restore the sovereignty of the citizenry over its servant — the government.
“This [the national convention] is a process to reimagine, redesign and reorganize the future of our South Africa, a country currently in crisis,” Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana general secretary of the SACC told media on Monday, ahead of the convention sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The primary vision of the national convention process is to enable South African citizens to work on and offer the country a firm foundation of public values and minimum standards –- the basis for a common, reconciled understanding of South African citizenship – that should inform the governmental environment and service for the common good, regardless of who is in government.
He continued: “As part of our anchoring democracy work, the SACC created the Unburdening Panel in April 2016, a special panel that I chaired, of persons of integrity, as a safe space for citizens to report corruption. This is still open for people.
“The national convention has a broadly inclusive oversight plenary including religious leaders of diverse traditions, representatives of structures of civil society that are seized with the urgency of the moment, such as FutureSA and #Unitedbehind, OUTA; representatives of extra-parliamentary organisations, the various labour federations – Cosatu, SAFTU, NACTU, FEDUSA etc., and structures of organised business.
“This is for civil society organisations and faith communities to, together reimagine a different experience of South Africa: the post apartheid promise of a free, just, reconciled and peaceful South Africa; free of racism, tribalism, xenophobia, and gender prejudices, free of corruption and the poverty it causes.”
The convention has four focus areas — healing, economic transformation, anchoring democracy and education — and this week’s sessions were the first phase of a process likely to be followed up by further sessions in May and November 2018, with much research and workshop activity going on continuously.