Bishops and senior Anglican clergy in the Western Cape have rejected President Jacob Zuma’s suggestion that religious leaders “stay out of politics and rather pray for South Africa”.
In a statement released on Thursday evening, clergy from Cape Town, False Bay and Saldanha Bay said they were “alarmed” by Zuma’s utterances.
“As clergy whose ministry in South Africa spans many years and who have witnessed and participated in the long and painful struggle against oppression, we reject the President’s comments,” it said in statement.
“We wish to remind the president of the invitation of his illustrious predecessor, former president Nelson Mandela, to the clergy in particular, to speak out strongly against those who in the democratic South Africa abused their power, misused their authority, misled their people and corrupted the trust placed in them.”
The leaders said faith communities of South Africa had a “time-honoured” history and responsibility to speak truth to power, provide a moral compass in times of confusion, encourage the disheartened and voice the needs of those who feel unheard and marginalised.
In that tradition, the leaders said communities were in pain caused by increasing violence and unemployment under the watch of elected leaders. There was also a growing and gross inequality between those who had and those who did not.
“We see little moral and accountable leadership. We see a divided Cabinet and ruling party at war within itself – while around us we hear the cries of children and mothers both hungry and vulnerable to the evils of poverty and abuse.
“We witness a growing discontent amongst our young people. In a country blessed with abundant resources and with more than enough to share, we feel the anger of students seeking free tertiary education and understand their cries.
“In a land of the dispossessed we note the slow pace of land reform and hear the calls of those who seek to retake what was stolen from their forbears,” the leaders said.
The leaders emphasised their refusal to take Zuma’s advice not to engage in political matters.
“Our people live there, work there, suffer, cry and struggle there. We live there too and cannot and will not stop commenting or acting on what we see and what, in our opinion, is unjust, corrupt and unacceptable to God’s high standards of sacrificial love,” they said.
They added that South Africa was part of God’s world, where all people irrespective of race, status, sexual preference and age, were one family and rejected any calls which aimed at sowing divisions among them.
Earlier this month while addressing thousands of Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ members during their International Thanksgiving Day celebrations at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban Zuma said the church should stop meddling in political matters as their role was to pray for them.
“It is sad to see the church and church leaders getting mired into matters of politics instead of praying for leaders. I urge the church to pray for us as leaders‚ pray for our people to stop the hatred. I urge you to assist us to build a stable nation built on love‚” Zuma reportedly said.[Source: News24]