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(FILE) Former South African President Nelson Mandela with his wife Winnie Mandela on 13 Feb 1990.  On 8 May, 2019 South Africans go to the polls again. (FILE) Former South African President Nelson Mandela with his wife Winnie Mandela on 13 Feb 1990. On 8 May, 2019 South Africans go to the polls again.   (ANSA)

SA Bishops appeal for peaceful and fair elections

As South Africans head to the polls on 8 May, the Catholic Bishops say the exercise of the right to vote is both a sacred and moral duty. The invite their compatriots to remember that many people suffered and died for them to attain universal suffrage.

English Africa Service - Vatican City

South African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) President, Sithembele Sipuka has appealed for peace in the country which has seen an electoral campaign marred by Xenophobic attacks.

Violence generates an accumulation of hate

 “Fellow South Africans, brothers and sisters, we beg you in the name of our common humanity and spiritual values to behave peacefully before, during and after the elections. Each citizen has a “grave responsibility to create the environment of tolerance and acceptance which enables every South African to support and vote for the party that they choose, without fear of violence and intimidation,” said the Bishop of Umtata as he quoted from a 2019 Pastoral letter written by the Bishops to the Faithful.

Bishop Sipuka has condemned all acts of violence emphasising that  violence has only brought about  “the accumulation of hate and ruin, not the reconciliation of the contending parties.”

Politicians: Desist from inflammatory statements

To political parties, the Bishop asks them to refrain from intimidation tactics and hate speech.

 “We also challenge the political leaders ‘to refrain from inflammatory, intimidating and inappropriate statements,’ ‘to take visible, decisive action when candidates and their supporters are involved in acts of intolerance, intimidation, harassment and disturbance,’ and to ensure that they respect the electoral process and subsequent results,” Bishop Sipuka said.

The Southern African Bishops also urge South Africans to pray earnestly and intercede for the nation during the upcoming electoral activities underlying the importance of prayer, “before we vote, as we vote, and after we vote for the common good.”

04 May 2019, 12:07