Matale, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Oikotree, was the keynote speaker at the relaunch of the ZacTax Campaign in Africa, held on 20 May, at the Mannah Conference Center in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event offered faith-rooted African perspectives on just taxation and reparations; and shared concrete proposals to advance corporate and wealth taxation as well as social and ecological reparations.
“Taxation is a tool for enacting the conversion of Zacchaeus in our financial systems which till now funnels resources to the most powerful and wealthy,” said Athena Peralta, programme executive for economic and ecological justice at the World Council of Churches. “It is the most effective way to raise resources to respond to today’s polycrises – not least climate change – which disproportionately hurt the poor and vulnerable.”
“The point is: the Earth belongs to God, and we are simply stewards. We believe that economic policies should foster sustainability,” said Mandla Mbongeni Hadebe, of the Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost each year by mining companies’ avoidance and evasion in sub-Saharan Africa,” Hadebe said. “As churches, we must make it our duty to follow the money and know detailed information about mining contracts, including their true costs and benefits. Through the ZacTax campaign I hope we will be able to do this.”
“Tax policies are not gender-neutral—they are biased toward men. In Africa, most of the women work in the informal economy, but they pay taxes in a lot of ways, mostly in consumption taxes,” said Riska Leandre Koopman of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice.
“Our resources need to start working for us. We need to ensure that tax is addressing inequality issues, including gender,” said Francis Kairu of the Tax Justice Network - Africa. “If tax justice will work in our century, it must do one thing: it must address the mismatch of power between developing and developed countries.”
African nations lost between US $597-1.4 trillion in illicit financial flows – nearly equivalent to the entire continent’s current GDP – in the last three decades. “Just imagine if the government can counter these illicit financial flows and channel them into other areas,” said M. Ganief Hendricks, a member of the South African Parliament.
“These are global challenges and need global solutions. We are in this together. It is time to ask the faith movement to come in and amplify the voices [calling for fair global tax rules and a United Nations tax convention],” said Silje Ander of Norwegian ChurchAid.
The ZacTax Campaign is a part of the New International Financial and Economic Architecture advocacy platform sponsored by the World Council of Churches, Council for World Mission, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, and World Methodist Council. The All Africa Conference of Churches co-organised the relaunch event and now promotes the ZacTax the campaign in the African region.