“Nobody should remain at home”: Catholic Bishops to Electorate in South Africa

Members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Credit: SACBC

Members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) are urging the electorate in South Africa to participate in this year’s general elections in which the incumbent, President Cyril Ramaphosa, is set to seek a second term as the country’s head of state.

On a date that President Ramaphosa is expected to make public this February, 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 will be elected. The 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.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on Friday, February 9, SACBC members, who include Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa urge the electorates to vote by “their experience and conscience”.

“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 emphasize the need for the electorate to participate in the polls.


They add in the four-page statement dated February 8, “For the good of the country, vote according to your experience and your conscience, not according to unquestioning loyalty to one political party.”

The three-nation Catholic Bishops highlight other considerations eligible voters need to keep in mind ahead of the polls, saying, “Consider what is important for the whole nation, not just what is good for you, your political party, and its alliance partners.”

“The election and its results will determine whether the country will be placed on a different path from the current path of corruption and incompetence,” SACBC members add in the statement that their President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, signed.

The Catholic Church leaders favorably compare the electoral process to life’s decisions and choices and underscore the need for the electorate to become aware of their voting rights and the need to vote wisely bearing in mind that a post-election coalition is possible. 

They go on to caution against post-election divisions that have characterized previous coalitions. “Coalitions must not reproduce the divisive and even toxic situations that we have witnessed in some places,” SACBC members say in their four-page statement that concludes with “2024 Election Prayer”.

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They go on to underline the power of prayer in ensuring free, fair, and peaceful elections, and appeal, “Pray that those tempted to commit acts of violence in efforts to manipulate the elections or even the results when the votes are being counted.”

“Pray that all forms of violence may be hindered by the responsible use of our democratic right to elect the persons of our choice,” SACBC members implore, and continue with gratitude, “We thank God for the right to determine the outcome of the elections. We commend our beloved country to the care of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and Mary, our great Patroness.”

They decry the “ever-growing gap between those who have and have not, deteriorating infrastructure, rampant corruption on the part of self-serving citizens, and violence,” and caution South Africans against despair, and to strive to keep the country’s vision of being “home to all” alive.

“As Catholic leaders, we call on all our fellow Catholics and all South Africans to keep working for a better future in our country. We must not give way to paralysing disillusionment and despair,” they say.

Disillusionment, SACBC members say, leads to hopelessness and discouragement among young people, a situation that impedes them from “taking their rightful place in the democratic institutions, which are the pillars of our democracy for which so many have sacrificed so much.” 


Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.