“Tax justice is a matter of faith,” said Suzanne Matale. “By faith, [all] are entitled to abundant life. Ordinary people have a right to know and to participate in decision-making tables that effect our own God-given dignity.”
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 2023, at the Mannah Conference Center in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The event offered faith-rooted African perspectives on just taxation and reparations; shared concrete proposals to advance corporate and wealth taxation as well as social and ecological reparations; and relaunched the ecumenical Zacchaeus Tax campaign for tax justice and reparations in the Africa.
“Among the poor we already find systems of sharing and credit that lie outside mainstream systems of economics. We need to learn what is happening on the margins. The ZacTax campaign seeks a just taxation and looks to the margins of life to do this,” said Philip Vinod Peacock, executive for justice and witness of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.
“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.
“There should be something that we’re all gaining from the extraction of our resources. Hundreds of millions of dollars are lost each year by mining companies’ avoidance and evasions in sub-Saharan Africa,” Hadebe said. “As communities, as churches, as ordinary citizens 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. Even developed countries are concerned about tax issues, such as tax evasion across multiple countries.”
African economies lost between $597 billion and $1.4 trillion in illicit financial flows—nearly equal 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.
“This is one of the strengths that we have, working with our partners,” noted Najla Kassab, WCRC president.
The ZacTax Campaign is a part of the New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA) initiative promoted by the Council for World Mission, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, World Methodist Council, and World Council of Churches. Funding for it comes from Otto per Mille.
The campaign was relaunched in Africa after being disrupted by the pandemic. The All Africa Conference of Churches is also a participating sponsor.