SOUTH AFRICA: Bishops’ Caution Against Dependency on Government Grants, Appeal to The Poor to Take Initiative

By Paschal Norbert

PRETORIA, JANUARY 31, 2023 (CISA)- Cognizant of the dire situation of life and numerous challenges affecting South Africans, especially the poor and vulnerable, Catholic bishops in South Africa have called on the disadvantaged in society to take initiative and responsibility over their situation and avoid over-reliance on a government bailout.

“We are troubled by the phenomenon of the poor failing to take responsibility and initiative within the scope and the means available to them, choosing instead to depend on and rely only on government grants. The morally right government policy of giving grants to the poor and the elderly has unfortunately engendered a culture of dependency and laziness, where people do not make use of available opportunities and do what they can to earn their living,” the bishops addressed in a communique issued at the end of their plenary session on January 24, 2023.

The bishops cautioned the poor against engaging in illicit activities while calling on them to play their role as responsible citizens and “to appreciate their dignity and to do what they can to provide for themselves.”

“Part of the problem of electricity in South Africa that is rarely spoken about is that the poor engage in illegal electricity connections to avoid paying. Then there is the growing culture of vandalization of property, theft, refusal to pay for services when one can lawlessness, lack of consideration for the other, the practice of littering, and the failure to keep one’s space of living clean,” the prelates observed.

The Catholic bishops also decried the spate of corruption that has taken root in the country and “the poverty of responsible and ethical leadership on the part of many of our political leaders who put their personal interests and those of their political parties first instead of the common good of the people they are elected to serve.”

They observed that the deep corruption scourge in South Africa has become an accepted norm in both the public and private sectors coupled with failure to hold those responsible to account.

“This is currently evident in the continued instability in a number of our metropolitan municipalities where political parties seem to be more interested in playing power games than focusing on service delivery,” they said.

The prelates castigated some political leaders for using “the legacy of apartheid as an excuse for their failure to do their job and deliver the necessary services.” They said the lack of basic service delivery was a result of “sheer greediness and corruption.”

The Southern African bishops, however, appealed to the conscience of all ethical and courageous leaders who put the good of the people before their interest to transform the country for the economic betterment of the people.