The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has sent a letter to the office of President Jacob Zuma to express the churches’ concern and discomfort over the removal of Nhlanhla Nene as the country’s Minister of Finance.
In a statement‚ the SACC described the Cabinet reshuffle as “bordering on financially irresponsible”.
It added that the reshuffle related to four contextual factors: “The context of the country’s credit ratings; the potential impact of that on the livelihoods of poor communities; the instability that may arise as a result; and the unfortunate perceptions that accompany this development‚ that undermine public confidence in the Executive and the Person of the President.”
Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana‚ General Secretary of the SACC‚ said the churches’ primary concern was around the “seemingly abrupt manner in which the Nene dismissal happened‚ on the basis of his redeployment to another strategic position‚ which raises the question of whether such a position and its needs can supersede the considerations for corporate South Africa‚ of the impact of the Nene removal in the face of such uncertainty on the economic front”.
“The churches have therefore sought an audience with the President‚ to present their concerns and request clarity on the recent cabinet reshuffle and all its ramifications.
“The SACC awaits a response from the office of President Zuma‚” the bishop stated.
He noted that since the announcement of Nene’s removal‚ ‚ the money markets had seen the rand devalue against all major global currencies‚ leaving South Africa points away from a downgrade to junk status.
“With 33% of South African government debt being held by foreign investors‚ a downgrade to junk status would force the likes of international pension and bond funds to move their investments to other markets.
“The performance of the South African Rand in the last few days will undoubtedly affect all South Africans‚ but the poor are likely to be hit hardest by the possible turn of events. We anticipate a higher cost of living affecting the cost of food‚ transport‚ clothing and energy. This will lead to higher inflation‚ and poor people‚ the majority in our country‚ will watch an already small basket of goods‚ shrink even further. This form of manufactured economic oppression cannot be condoned‚” Bishop Mpumlwana added.
He said the SACC would make a fuller statement on its position when it launched its nationwide campaign called “The South Africa We Pray For”‚ which was introduced earlier in December. The campaign tackles the issues of healing and reconciliation‚ poverty and inequality‚ economic transformation‚ family fabric‚ and anchoring democracy.
“It would be inconsistent with our prayer and action campaign‚ were we not to interrogate this decision‚ speaking in our capacity as the leaders of churches in South Africa‚” said Bishop Mpumlwana.
’The SACC continues to take its role as the voice of poor and marginalised people seriously‚ and our communique to President Zuma expresses our deepest concern for the ripple effect of the cabinet reshuffle on the average family in our communities‚” he said.