CAPE TOWN, South Africa

An interfaith group of religious leaders in South Africa has embarked on a national campaign to fight bribery, patronage, nepotism and abuse of public funds.

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Baha'i and African traditional leaders launched the “Call to End Corruption” on Aug. 22 in the impoverished suburb of Khayelitsha, a few kilometers outside Cape Town.

“Corruption is not merely a material challenge affecting the political economy of South Africa (and the world), but also a spiritual, moral, and social concern,” the leaders said in the campaign document.

The leaders said corruption enabled people in leadership to profit from bad behavior and thereby justified “petty” corruption at all levels of society and creating a culture of impunity. They added that the pursuit of money and power was threatening South Africa’s young democracy and robbing the poor of their basic needs.

“If our religious communities cannot confess that it is wrong to have [too] much when others have nothing, we have no hope for this country,” said the Rev. Alan Storey of Central Methodist Church. 

Cape Town Roman Catholic Archbishop Stephen Brislin called on faith communities to work together to tackle corruption.

Kobus Gerber, general secretary of the Dutch Reformed Church, said faith communities needed to form a common public theology to address corruption.

“Moral regeneration is not the job of the state, it’s our job,” he said. “We are faced with a second liberation struggle, a struggle for the soul of this nation.”

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said he would like to see churches educate people against corruption.

The leaders resolved to support communities that suffer most from corruption, so that none would see the need to destroy the little they have to draw the attention of government to their plight.