The National Executive Committee of the South African Council of Churches on Thursday 18th May 2017, released to the church public and the rest of society, the report of the SACC Unburdening Panel that has, since April 2016, been following the challenge of corruption. The Unburdening Panel is a “facility” offered by the churches to any person in the Republic of South Africa who may wish to relieve herself or himself of the burden caused by an experience of someone – an individual, a representative of a business interest, of a political party or of a person of influence – your superior or someone you couldn’t say “No” to, suggesting that you do something inappropriate in return for a promotion, an attractive position or money or shares in a company, or any other favour or incentive whatsoever.
The Unburdening Panel provides a safe space for people to unburden themselves and tell what they wish to tell freely. While most of the people have opted for the security of what the SACC calls the “Anonymity Option”, where the deponents are not divulged, some of people chose to go public with the information they were giving the SACC Unburdening Panel Process. A number of those gave much of the same information to the Public Protector, feeding the State Capture report.
This process began mainly as a receptacle of stories being shared in unburdening; but soon it became apparent that there were discernible patterns of the systemic undermining of governance that go beyond “petty” corruption, so as to seriously threaten constitutional democracy. This the SACC has a duty to share with the church public ahead of the scheduled SACC National Conference in June 2017.
The work of the Unburdening Panel is part of the SACC’s “Anchoring Democracy”, one of five pillars of The South Africa We Pray For campaign of the churches. Along with Healing & Reconciliation; Family Life; Poverty and Inequality and Economic Transformation, Anchoring Democracy focuses on democracy education as part of church education, support for national and local government elections, and addressing concerns of corruption, maladministration and the loss of public trust in public institutions. The SACC is committed to help South Africa uphold its 1994 post-apartheid promise of a just, reconciled, equitable and sustainable society, free of racial, tribal, ethnic, xenophobic and gender prejudices; free of corruption and deprivation; and with enough food and shelter for every citizen; and for each child born to grow to its God-given potential. That is The South Africa We Pray For campaign, which was launched at the historic Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto, on Reconciliation Day December 16, 2015.
On Thursday 18th May 2017, the SACC returned to Regina Mundi, to brief the wider church public through a media conference on the findings so far, of the Unburdening Panel process. To that end, the President and the General Secretary of the SACC, on behalf of the SACC National Executive Committee presented the Unburdening Panel report to the general church public through the media.