Churches Say No to Religious Group for Zuma
Mainstream Churches, including the Catholic Church, have spoken out against a night vigil and march in support of former President Jacob Zuma organised by an interfaith body.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, as chair of the KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders’ Group, issued a signed statement distancing the group from the vigil and march held by the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa) for Mr Zuma’s court appearance.
Mr Zuma, who is facing 16 charges, including fraud and corruption, in connection with the controversial arms deal, presented himself to the Durban High Court. The case has been postponed to July 27.
Cardinal Napier said while most South Africans are well aware of the state capture during the Zuma presidency, many may not know that during the same period, a concerted effort was made to capture the Churches.
The first was an invitation to church leaders to enter into a partnership with the government to tackle major social issues such as unemployment, HIV/Aids, poverty, and crime.
A second effort was to invite selected church leaders to join the state-sponsored Council of Religious Leaders at both national and provincial level.
“Significantly, not one of the leaders of the mainstream Churches was invited to the discussions that preceded the formation of these bodies,” Cardinal Napier said. “Needless to say, none of them have ever been contacted since by either national or provincial leaders.
“Nicsa, which is now demonstrating open support for Mr Zuma, is supposedly doing so in the name of the churches in the province.”
The cardinal added that Zuma supporters Bishop TB Ngcobo [provincial secretary of Nicsa] and Bishop Vusi Dube [founder of the eThekwini Community Church International] had never been recognised church leaders at provincial level.
“Never have they attended any meetings of the KZN Church Leaders’ Group, which has led the churches in KZN since the mid-1980s when they brought the province back from the brink of civil war.”
Diakonia Distances itself also
The Diakonia Council of Churches has also distanced itself and its member churches from the vigil and march supporting Mr Zuma.
“We find it extremely inappropriate to lobby for politicians, especially when churches are made up of people from diverse political affiliations,” Diakonia executive director Nomabelu Mvambo Dandala said.
“We have faith in our country’s justice system to adequately handle the matter and we pray for a just and peaceful outcome.”
Cardinal Napier also called for prayers, urging all to “please pray for our province and its leadership at a time when so-called church leaders are leading us towards conflict rather than away from it”.