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Southern African Bishops Decry Corruption in Member Nations, Urge “solidarity with needy”

Logo of the Inter-regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA). Credit: IMBISA

Theft of COVID-19 response funds in nine Southern African countries is a cause for concern for Catholic Bishops in the region who are decrying the vice and urging solidarity with “weakest and needy members of society.”

In their September 10 statement obtained by ACI Africa, members of the standing committee of the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) also decry violence and looting in some of the countries in the region.

“We have witnessed acts of corruption connected with the misappropriation of resources which were ear-marked for the alleviation of those affected by the pandemic,” members of the Stnading Committee of IMBISA say.

In the statement signed by IMBISA President, Bishop Lucio Andrice Muandula, the Catholic Bishops in the nine-nation Inter-Regional forum add, “Many young people, who have all along been waiting on the side-lines and not participating effectively in the economy, are fast losing hope that things will never change.”

They continue, “In fact, some of our countries have witnessed troubling scenes with violence and looting at a grand scale. The end result of this is displacement of people."

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“The receiving countries and communities, normally lack resources to even cater adequately for their own, find it even more difficult to cope with the added responsibility. On occasion, this brings about tensions between the new arrivals and the locals,” members of the IMBISA Standing Committee say.

Amid the tensions, representatives of the Catholic Bishops in Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana encourage the “practice of solidarity, especially with the weakest and needy members of society, migrants, refugees and other displaced persons.”

“This includes the attitude of welcoming those who knock on our doors searching for basic needs whether they have come from the same country or other countries,” the Catholic Church leaders in Southern Africa say the September 10 statement.

They further encourage “formation at all levels in the Church in promoting the common good” saying such formation “should especially be offered to those who wish to assume political office.”

“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good,” members of the IMBISA Standing Committee say.

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They urge the people of God in Southern Africa to “support efforts by governments and other institutions in the promotion of public health as we go through the pandemic.”

They also encourage participation in the ongoing vaccination exercise saying, “We believe it is an act of love to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and we encourage everyone to do so.”

“We believe in the importance of prayer and encouragement for all healthcare workers during the period of the pandemic and those who have suffered under various ills during this period as well as those who have died,” IMBISA Standing Committee members say.

Making reference to Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, the representatives of the Catholic Bishops in nine Southern African countries advocate for the fostering of good values among community members.

“Let us return to promoting the good. Every society needs to ensure that values are passed on; otherwise, what is handed down are selfishness, violence, corruption in its various forms, indifference and, ultimately, a life closed to transcendence and entrenched in individual interests,” the Catholic Bishops say.

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They encourage hope amid challenges saying, “Even in the midst of so many difficulties, our hope in Christ remains, as we do not grieve like those who have no hope. The Lord is with us and he will never abandon his people.”