A bullish President Jacob Zuma yesterday reiterated his call for the church and the clergy to stay away from politics – despite his party regularly having visited churches when campaigning.
Zuma was addressing thousands of Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ members during their international thanksgiving day celebrations at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday.
Buoyed by the sermon of Chief Apostle Professor Caesar Nongqunga, who said the president should be forgiven for all his transgressions, Zuma wasted no time in putting the church in its place.
“It is sad to see the church and church leaders getting mired into matters of politics instead of praying for leaders,” Zuma said.
“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.”
Leaders of the SA Council of Churches have been unequivocal in their call for Zuma to step down, being vocal advocates of the Save SA campaign.
Similar calls before have also been made by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Anglican Bishop Thabo Makgoba. But yesterday, the president got a surprise reprieve when Nongqunga painted him as a victim.
“If the president was really corrupt, would he still be here among us?” Nongqunga asked to loud applause.
“Set him free. What has he done that anyone else hasn’t done?
“Is paying off your debt a crime? Is that a crime?” Makgoba asked referring to Zuma securing a R7.8-million loan from VBS Mutual Bank to pay off his Nkandla home debt.
“Before you judge him, just remember what others before him had done,” Nongqunga said.