Bishops say South African leaders must focus on needs of citizens

CAPE TOWN, South Africa ([  ]CNS) — The political officeholders appointed after the Sept. 25 resignation of South African President Thabo Mbeki must work toward rebuilding confidence in the country’s leadership and focus on meeting the urgent needs and demands of ordinary citizens, said the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. “There is no doubt that rivalry and discord in the governing party have hindered its ability to serve the whole community in recent months,” the conference president, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, said in a Sept. 23 statement on behalf of the bishops. “It is now time for the new leaders to focus on the urgent needs and demands of our people, especially the poor,” the bishops’ statement said. Mbeki announced Sept. 21 that he would step down after his ruling African National Congress party withdrew its support. His resignation was the climax of a long and bitter battle with Jacob Zuma, who toppled him as leader of the party last December and is widely expected to win a general election next year.