By Odiwuor Opiyo
NAIROBI, JULY 26, 2022 (CISA)-“The problems that are in South Africa are based on weak leadership,” opined Rt Rev Sithembele Sipuka, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mthatha, South Africa, in an interview with CISA on July 19, during the II Pan-African Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi.
The President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) also clarified his remarks in his July Newsletter where he postulated that public appointees who have failed to solve the problems of South Africans should step down, “I did not want to take a political approach not towards this because you know, everybody’s calling for the resignation of the ANC. I do not want to be aligned with that because at church I shouldn’t be calling for any party really to resign… I’m just taking it from the point of view of leadership. If people who are in power are failing just in the principles of leadership. Because as I say in that newsletter, a leader is there to make sure that things that are supposed to happen are happening.”
Among other issues, the bishop in his newsletter decried an energy crisis, which manifested in the form of incremental load-shedding and which was at stage five, meaning that South Africans experienced power outages around the country for an average of 5 hours a day.
Additionally, he went on in the newsletter to condemn the deaths of 21 young people, mostly teenagers aged between 13 and 18 -who perished mysteriously at Enyobeni Tavern. He had at the time encouraged all people to be proactive in preventing such occurrences rather than playing an ambulance role after they had happened.
“Catholics in leadership positions must agitate for discussion and solutions to this tavern’s problem,” he wrote at the time.
“As a Church, we should not act like an ambulance. But we need to act, to become proactive in preventing a similar disaster that is waiting to happen…We need to be awake to the things that are happening and address them for what they are and also in a tough manner if that needs to be done. Things happen and then you talk and then nothing happens,” he said in the interview.
He further sustained his calls on all leaders across the political divide to step down saying, “anybody who does not lead, regardless of which party he comes from must step down and then we find a solution because life must go on. Life is not going on in South Africa now because we have leaders who have no leadership in them. And if there is any difficulty to solve that problem. And if he cannot solve that problem, to get off the way so that we can find another person, regardless of whatever political party.”