SOUTH AFRICA: Bishops Criticize Government for Spending Billions on Weapons

PRETORIA MAY 10, 2016 CISA- The Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) has criticized the government for spending excessively on weapons given the country’s major social problems.

“We insist that, in the absence of discernible external military threat to our country, and in a country which is struggling to recover from high levels of unemployment and extreme poverty, it is ethically irresponsible and unnecessary to spend billions of scarce resources on weapons of war,” Bishop Abel Gabuza said.

Bishop Gabuza who chairs the Justice and Peace Commission- SACBC noted in an April 26 statement that the arms spending ignored the real problem.

“The greatest threats to our national security are economic inequalities and youth unemployment which are themselves fuelling violent social protests,” he added saying forms of protests are becoming increasingly violent in the country.

The bishop was critical of a government finding that justified the arms spending in the face of corruption claims.

“The defence capabilities that the military acquired through the arms procurement in 1999 are irrelevant in the face of this security threat,” he observed recalling that the government spent billions of South African Rands on weapons in 1999 at a time when the government said it could not afford retroviral treatments for South Africans with HIV.

“We therefore continue to insist that the arms deal was an ethical blunder,” he said.

The bishops’ conference commission also called on the government to suspend its plans for nuclear energy procurement.

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