Rev Ray McCauley, Pundit Ashwin Trikamjee and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, of the National Religious Leaders Council (NRLC), together with clerics Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church, Bishop Zipho Siwa, president of the South African Council of Churches, and Bishop Mosa Sono of the International Federation of Christian Churches on Wednesday called on President Jacob Zuma “to do the honourable thing and step down”.
“The actions of the president of recalling the former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, from an international roadshow aimed at wooing investors and engaging with ratings agencies has left South Africa embarrassed and humiliated on the international stage,” said spokesperson Pastor Giet Khosa on behalf of the NRLC and SACC.
“It’s beyond comprehension that the president, who is required by the constitution to put South Africa and its people first, could behave in a manner contrary to his oath of office,” Khosa said.
“While the country was still in shock last week that such an action of recalling the finance minister was effected, the president still reshuffled his cabinet and fired Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, viewed by religious leaders and the majority of South Africans as competent people of integrity, and who have always prioritised the interests of South Africa and its people,” Khosa added.
“The cumulative effect of these and current events is that the president has lost all moral legitimacy to govern, and therefore should do the honourable thing and step down.
“The ANC and Parliament have now no reason to delay holding the president accountable and do everything in their power to remove him from office,” he said.
Khosa added that the NRLC and church leaders would join civil society and SAVE SA in protest on Friday.
“South Africans can no longer stand on the sidelines and watch the president ruin our beloved country which we struggled so hard for,” he said.
The Catholic Bishops said that the replacement of the finance minister was a cause for concern.
“Despite the government’s rhetoric around radical economic transformation, it is evident that uncertainties around the treasury, as well as continued political uncertainties, are not in the interest of the economy and the poor," said Bishop Abel Gabuza.
"The current cabinet reshuffle has heightened such uncertainties,” he said.
Gabuza lauded outgoing Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas “for being men of integrity and for defending the principles of clean governance and fiscal discipline”.
“We wait to see the performance of the new finance minister in this regard, especially his ability to protect the treasury from corporate capture and undue influence," he said
As a way to restore public confidence in the office of the president and its ability to appoint ministers in the interest of the common good, “we urge the president to show leadership and institute a commission of inquiry on corporate state capture, especially corporate involvement in cabinet appointments".
"Such inquiry should cover all corporates, and not only the alleged capture by the Gupta family,” Gabuza concluded.
Goldstein used the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover to emphasise “that freedom is the greatest gift from God”.
“God has blessed South Africa with the gift of freedom but we know that it’s a blessing that came with great sacrifice for so many people who sacrificed their lives, their families and so much else.”
Council of Muslim Theologians (Jamiatul Ulama SA) secretary-general Moulana Ebrahim Bham said the ANC has to take full responsibility.