The South African Council of Churches National Executive Committee (SACC NEC) concluded its first quarterly gathering of 2024 by unanimously agreeing on the need for dedicated prayer ahead of the 2024 Elections. Therefore, the NEC agreed that Sunday, 5 May 2024 would be observed by all member churches of the SACC – and called on the nation to join in praying together – as the National Day of Prayer for the 2024 General Elections.

Chaired by the President of the SACC, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the NEC set its intention on the need for transformation and reconciliation.  “In the face of the many challenges of our country, we yearn for a renewal of our minds in God, that we might evolve into a transformed society; charged with the mission to reconcile the world we live in, with God’s world through His word,” said Arcbishop Makgoba in concluding the opening remarks.

This NEC leaders reflected on the general climate of the nation as we approach the 7th national and provincial elections, in this 30th year of South Africa’s democracy. “The SACC is aware that there is a general sense of anxiety around the country which stems from the fact that the coming elections will be one of the most contested in our history,” he said. In part, this is owing to the number of political parties, the participation of independent candidates and the possibility of a lack of a governing majority for any party. This calls on all of us to be vigilant so as to play our individual parts in contributing to an election season free of violence and intimidation where all eligible voters can cast their vote freely in making their choice.

The SACC is also aware of some of the sporadic violence that can arise, if not already present in the election contestation. This is further reason for us to come together in the presence of God to pray for peaceful elections guided by integrity and fair contestation. Our history has taught us that if we do not commit, and recommit to peace we can be overcome by the kind of cynicism that easily produces violence – some of which, as a nation, we have yet to fully heal from.

“Our people still bear the painful scars of the violent eruptions of our country’s history and we cannot adopt a posture of blindness to the signs of our times. Therefore, our call for a National Day of Prayer for the 2024 General Elections is a reminder of the core mission of the church, which is to advocate for hope in the face of hopelessness,” added Archbishop Makgoba.

The National Day of Prayer for the 2024 General Elections aims to bring the nation together in a moment of earnestness, praying for a peaceful election process, underpinned by integrity and free of intimidation. “Our 21 February statement said, ‘Our prayer for South Africa is for a safe voting season, where each registered voter will exercise their right to vote in peace; and where every vote cast will be counted.’ This remains our focus, and as religious leaders, we have re-affirmed our role to bring the messages of hope to our people, in order to inspire a wave of peace over our country,” said Rev Mzwandile Molo, the SACC Acting General Secretary.