The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) has distanced itself from calls by some religious leaders for President Jacob Zuma to quit.
In an unprecedented move, the 106-year old church publicly slammed one of its members for purporting to represent it at a forum where the call was made.
The ZCC, in a hard-hitting statement, descended on Reverend Senamo Molisiwa for violating its decade’s old policy of political neutrality and non-interference, adding he brought the church into disrepute.
This came after Molisiwa, the general secretary of the Council of African Instituted Churches (CAIC), joined the National Religious Leaders Council (NRLC) and the South African Council of Churches’ (SACC) call for Zuma to be forced out following a damning Constitutional Court ruling on Nkandla last month.
The court had found that Zuma violated the constitution and breached his oath of office by failing to implement Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’ Nkandla remedial steps and also failing to protect her office.
ZCC spiritual leader Reverend Barnabas Lekganyane said Molisiwa created a wrong impression that the church was part of the calls when he “paraded himself wearing ZCC insignia”. “As the said individual was part of the religious leaders making the call for President Jacob Zuma to resign and declaring that they rejected his apology, a wrong impression was created that the ZCC was part of the group,” Bishop Lekganyane lamented. “We would like to categorically state it for the record that the person in question was not mandated nor appointed by the ZCC to represent it in that forum.”
The church, which is headquartered in Moria outside Polokwane in Limpopo, has been known for its apolitical stance since the church’s inception in 1910. In the run up to the 1994 watershed elections, the ZCC invited the then leaders of all major political parties – including the ANC’s Nelson Mandela, National Party’s FW De Klerk and the IFP’s Mangosuthu Buthelezi – to pray for peaceful elections in Moria.Bishop Lekganyane maintained that he did not want his church to be dragged into politics.
“We would like to reiterate our long-standing and inelastic policy that the ZCC is above politics. This, because we believe that as a church, among our primary responsibilities is to pray for peace and stability. This we do by equitably prioritizing all traditional, political and government leaders in our country. It is only through God’s powers that we know that this bellowed land of ours experiences harmony,” he added.
The church also urged its 14 million members to “refrain from any actions or behaviour that may harm the good name of the ZCC by aligning it to a particular political view”. Bishop Lekganyane reiterated that his church would rather pray for than judge alleged wrong-doers. He added: “Even under these current uncertain circumstances, it is our firm belief that God knows best and we communicate with him through prayer. We remind all people that we are not to judge as there is only one judge, God.” He said despite “clear” challenges, South Africans should unite behind shared goals and common destiny.
“We have only one country and should therefore not destroy it. We wish all South Africans a peaceful election season and encourage all participants to campaign responsibly without denying anybody their freedom and rights.”
The ZCC, one of the biggest indigenous led churches on the African continent, maintained that it was neither “a member of” nor was it in an alliance with the SACC.
Approached for comment, Rev Molisiwa, of Reiger Park near Boksburg in Gauteng, declined to comment.
“I want to say no comment because the press release was released last week already and the ZCC has said nothing since Monday. I don’t think I should make any comment,” Molisiwa said.