by Matthew Davies
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, hosted the first informal meeting on 10 May with the litigants in the case involving South African corporations and victims of human rights violations under apartheid.
The meeting, which was held in Bishopscourt, home to the Archbishop, hosted representatives of Jubilee 2000, the Khulumani Group, the Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign, the Apartheid Claims Task Force, Mokoena attorneys and the South African Council of Churches. "The principle of dialogue rather than litigation was discussed and all groups are agreed that dialogue is a preferred course of action," Archbishop Ndungane said. "The courts should be a last resort."
Furthermore, the Archbishop said that the way forward had to be acceptable to all parties. "What I do not want is the adverse publicity for our country that will result if we hang our dirty linen out in international forums," he said. "It is an absolute necessity for all the parties to come to the table."
In the same week, the Synod of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa issued a statement in which they expressed gratitude to God for the role that the Archbishop of Cape Town is fulfilling, especially as a mediator. In addition to the meeting with the litigants they commented on his mediatory role with neighbouring country Zimbabwe. The last paragraph of the statement read:
"We pledge our full support to the Archbishop in his untiring efforts to bring peace, healing and reconciliation in our land and beyond. We want to assure him of our prayers."