South African Bishops Say People Won In Elections

Call on Officials to Uphold Common Good

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DURBAN, South Africa, APRIL 28, 2009 ( The South African bishops’ conference spokesman is stating that the results of his country’s elections last week are a victory for the people.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, archbishop of Durban, told Catholic Information Services for Africa that although the African National Congress won the elections, «the real victory» belongs to all his countrymen who voted.

He explained: «The voting turnout deserves celebration. It is a powerful sign of how a democratic culture has taken hold of our national consciousness. Congratulations South Africa!»

The bishops’ spokesman said, «The return to government of the [African National Congress] expresses the will of the people of South Africa. I invite the [party] to live up to its founding principles and to redouble its effort to build a free, united and prosperous nation.»

He noted that the past 15 years of the congress’ leadership has helped the economy grow for six successive years, and has given the people increased housing, services, social grants and education.

«Much has been achieved,» acknowledged Cardinal Napier, and «much remains to be done.»

He added, «The success of any democracy depends on the inclusion of all citizens and the recognition that we all have duties to fulfill and rights to protect.»

The cardinal called on the elected officials «to be effective lawmakers, followers of the law and guardians of the common good and of our constitution, for an election is not a path to power, but a call to service.»

He appealed to the new government to «show an even greater commitment to service and accountability, particularly with regard to the poor, the marginalized and the sick.»

He added, «We call on all who have been returned to power to see their election not as a personal or party-political triumph but an opportunity to build a more accountable and inclusive government.»

Cardinal Napier concluded by encouraging the Catholic community «to keep all our leaders in prayer and to do everything we can to entrench a culture of respect and responsibility, so that human rights may extend to all.»

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