AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - “No to violence; yes to a free and peaceful vote”, the Bishops appeal on the eve of the elections

Tuesday, 7 May 2019 elections   bishops   xenophobia  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "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", the Bishops of South Africa ask in view of the general elections to be held tomorrow, May 8th. The nation will head to the polls for the "sixth general elections" since 1994, the year of the end of apartheid, the Bishops' statement specifies.
"The exercise of the right to vote is a both sacred and moral duty. Many people suffered and died to enable us to exercise the vote", the document underlines, sent to Fides.
For this reason the Bishops condemn all acts of violence that prevents a free and peaceful vote. "Violence has always achieved only destruction not construction, kindling of passions not pacification, the accumulation of hate and ruin, not the reconciliation of the contending parties.
The Bishops urge 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.
"We need to pray earnestly and intercede for our nation during the coming electoral activities: before we vote, as we vote, and after we vote for the common good", the Bishops conclude.
In recent weeks there have been acts of xenophobic violence against immigrants from neighboring Countries. Violence attributed to propaganda against foreigners carried out by several candidates in the elections, who in order to get votes, feed fear and hatred towards migrants. The Bishops have recently strongly condemned the xenophobic wave, which they believe "risks bringing the Country back to the time of apartheid". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/5/2019)