Archbishop in South Africa Prohibits Use of Parish Venues as Political Campaign Forums

Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara of South Africa's Durban Archdiocese. Credit: SACBC

Archbishop Siegried Mandla Jwara of South Africa’s Catholic Archdiocese of Durban has prohibited the use of Parish venues in his Metropolitan See as political campaign forums.

In a Friday, March 1 statement, Archbishop Mandla says Parish venues are “spiritual homes” for all and their use by political candidates would make a section of parishioners feel “strangers”.

“No political party should use any parish church as a platform to campaign,” Archbishop Mandla says referring to the ongoing political campaigns in South Africa head of the country’s general elections scheduled for May 29.

In the statement that his Auxiliary, Bishop Elias Kwenzakufani Zondi, cosigned, the South African Catholic Archbishop cautions against sidelining a section of Parishioners through political activities in Parish premises. 

“One thing we should all keep in mind is that our parishes are spiritual homes to all our parishioners regardless of their political affiliations, and when one political party campaigns in a parish church it may make some parishioners feel like strangers in their own spiritual home,” Archbishop Mandla, a member of the Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries (CMM), says.


Eligible voters in South Africa are to take part in the country’s seventh general election organized under the universal adult suffrage conditions since the apartheid era ended in 1994. 

Members of the National Assembly and those of the Provincial Legislature in each of the country’s nine Provinces are to be elected. 

Meanwhile, the South Africa’s Chief Justice is to oversee the election of the country’s president from among the members of the National Assembly, which is the lower house of Parliament.

On February 8, members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) called upon the electorate in South Africa to actively participate in this year’s polls in which the incumbent, President Cyril Ramaphosa, is set to seek a second term as the head of state.

“We strongly appeal to all eligible voters to go out and vote and send a message to incoming parliamentarians. Nobody should remain at home,” SACBC members, who include Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa said in the statement that was shared with ACI Africa.

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The Catholic Church leaders urged eligible voters in South Africa to cast their ballots according to their “experience and your conscience, not according to unquestioning loyalty to one political party.”

“Consider what is important for the whole nation, not just what is good for you, your political party, and its alliance partners,” they further said, adding that taking part in the polls and the results after the voting exercise “will determine whether the country will be placed on a different path from the current path of corruption and incompetence.”

SACBC members also published a 2024 Election Prayer that the people of God in South Africa are to be recite during Sunday gatherings in their respective Parishes ahead of the polls.

On his part, Bishop Neil Augustine Frank of South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Mariannhill appealed to Christians in the country to fast during lent for the good of the African nation as it prepares for general elections. 

“During this Lent, let us offer our fasting for our country as we prepare for the general elections,” Bishop Frank said on February 16, and added, “Let us fast, that the elections would be peaceful; that we would have a government that cares for the poor; that we will have honest leaders.”


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