According to the president, it’s fine for churches to be political, as long as they’re not criticizing him. They should instead quietly pray for him … and be respectful.
On Easter Sunday, President Jacob Zuma addressed the Twelve Apostles of Christ Church in Umgababa‚ south of Durban, through a translator and reportedly said churches and religion could in fact not be separated from politics, but it needed to happen in a culture of God-fearing respect.
In his view, politicians are in their positions because God apparently put them there.
Zuma had been attending a number of religious events during Easter, and spoke at each of them. He used these platforms to hit out at those calling for him to resign, while also promoting his more radical approach to “radical economic transformation” with land expropriation without compensation at the top of the agenda.
He arrived at the church in KwaZulu-Natal nearly six hours late, however.In his speech, the president was highly critical of church leaders who “throw stones” when politicians make mistakes. He said he’d never heard of a verse where it said that if politicians made a mistake, then church leaders should join those throwing stones.
He could well have been referring to those such as Anglican Archbiship Thabo Makgoba, who had clearly been speaking out against Zuma earlier in the day during his Easter Sunday sermon, in which Makgoba said, among many other things: “Like many, I feel that the dream of South Africa sometimes feels more like a nightmare, a prolonged Passiontide, so to speak. Personal interests, corruption, private gain, entitlement, a vicious contempt for the poor and the common good, a culture of blatant lies and cronyism — and possibly worse — dominate our public landscape … it is as if we are entering the Zimbabwe moment…,” he said.
Makgoba added: “…some among our leaders have become slaves to a new form of colonial oppression. It is a moral and economic oppression that manifests itself in the form of one family’s capture of our country and a president whose integrity, soul, and heart have been compromised.”
Zuma was having none of this, however, and, at one point, appeared to compare himself to Jesus Christ, who he said had also been “called names” and been spat on.
He said: “Even our saviour was facing many challenges. He was the one who felt pain for us sinners. They called him names. They spit on him.”
In admitting South Africa’s challenges, the president pointed to the country’s difficult history under apartheid and the challenges from that legacy it was still trying to overcome.
“The pain and wounds of apartheid are still evident because we have not yet been freed economically.”
He told the congregants that “our people must be able to control‚ administer and enjoy the economy … now you must be removed because you are trying to make black people wiser”.
“You saw the people in those marches‚ the type of people who have never marched before‚” Zuma said.
Zuma said that until land was returned to black people‚ the poverty of the masses would continue unabated.
“The pain and rules of apartheid are still evidence as we are still not economically free.
“Let the land of the people go back to the people because that is the reason for poverty. We are saying that the economic power should be shifted to the people so everyone can enjoy it‚” he said.
He added: “The time of poverty among blacks must come to an end. Even if they remove the president who says this‚ the next one will do the same.
“If Zuma must leave because he is telling the truth. He cannot just walk away,” he said referring to himself in the third person‚ saying he would not step down.
“When I was in the struggle things were bad and I was facing death. Many people said we must stop. We were called terrorists for trying to fight the white man.”
He said that, in his view, the main role of religious leaders was to “pray for our nation so respect can come back”.
“No one can fight you if you have respect. That brings about peace.
“Pray for political leaders so they can treat people well … You must remind (politicians) that their political powers are given by God.”
He said people should be afraid of God, which was “the first wisdom”.
“Respect and dignity are declining in SA. Pray for this to be restored.”
He also said people should pray for the economy to be restored.