As one of the ways of moving forward, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) recommends for an Amnesty to be granted for looters to return stolen items to nearest police stations.

While it has taken barely a week to loot and vandalise critical business infrastructure and invaluable assets in Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal, there is no illusion that rebuilding will be a painstaking process and not an event South Africans would wish it were. As you would have thought, there has been a finger-pointing fest going on, with those eyeing plush political posts outdoing each other to gain whatever mileage they can. On its part, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), rightfully assuming its role of society’s moral compass, believes it is time to face reality and start rebuilding the country from ashes and debris, instead of feigning shock. In its review, the Council urges the country to rally together in these trying times, pronouncing: “The soul of the South African society will be built from the ashes of shame that we are witnessing.”

Three ways to move the country forward

While the Council acknowledges that the damaged infrastructure (which, fortunately, has been isolated to only some parts of Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal) will be restored hopefully in no time, its impact on its the national pysche will linger for a long time. Accordingly, the entity calls for confronting some of the issues which are viewed as possible causes or pretexts which may have been were exploited to rationalise the rampage. In particular, it has broached four ways which could help move the country forward. From the viewpoint of economic transformation, these have been condensed into three.

  1. National Building Initiative (a different social and economic approach)

Currently, the country should consolidate disparate communities into a conscious nation. Primarily, there is need for a National Building Initiative which must involve every South African with a clear commitment to addressing poverty and inequality, which is symptomatic of the current problem of 75% youth unemployment and hopelessness. Palpably, a different social and economic approach is due.

2. Reconciliation and the restoration

Evoking the spirit of reconciliation and the restoration and recovery of the positive human spirit, which is likened to the African concept of Ubuntu-Botho, the Council implores those who have looted to attempt to return things they stole by delivering them at the nearest police stations. “The SACC request the Police to declare an amnesty for a period, say a week or two, during which time anyone who returns goods will not be prosecuted. This is the healing Campaign for Restoration with Amnesty to encourage a positive social conscience, as the Scripture says: ‘Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.’ (Hebrews 3:13).” Though the aware that the process is in consideration in other communities, Council has realistic expectations that it does no expect a large uptake of the process.

3. Economic Restoration Fund for affected businesses

The Council advances for the creation of an Economic Restoration Fund to assist a great number of entrepreneurs, especially small entrepreneurs whose start-up business have been seriously impacted by the riotous looting. Support should only be rendered to verified cases of entrepreneurs whose businesses were affected.

“We believe there should be a way of assisting them back on their feet and continue to support the people whose livelihoods depend on this,” the Council suggests, recommending the funding should be sourced from money that has been recovered from the notorious looting spree. “The SACC is aware that there already are cases of money that has been recovered from the original sin, State Capture looting spree. We do suggest that Treasury considers applying such monies so recovered from State Capture looting to the development and sustenance of the proposed Economic Restoration Fund.”

No picnic walk

All told, the SACC is under no illusions that implementing these three is a picnic walk and urges South Africans to humbly face the reality of the situation, referring to 2 Chronicles, 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

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