Juju’s visit unsettles church

2012-04-07 17:50

It looked like a peaceful church service with a prominent guest, but behind the scenes, Julius Malema’s decision to visit the Twelve Apostles Church in Christ on Good Friday caused some unholy panic.

The church is in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

City Press has learned that when its leadership received a request for Malema – who is currently banned from addressing ANC gatherings or representing any of its structures – to attend the Friday service, they turned to the ruling party’s provincial bosses for guidance.

They were concerned that allowing Malema to speak to congregants was a violation of the ANC’s orders.

However, before the church leadership could make a decision, Malema told them that he did not wish to speak; he merely wanted to attend the service.

“What they (the church) wanted was an understanding of what the suspension meant in terms of the youth league’s request,” ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane told City Press.

“We couldn’t have a problem with him attending the service, but what we said was he could not speak as president of the youth league.”

The church – which, according to its website, has more than 4 million members in South Africa, and affiliates in India and Ghana – has close ties to the ANC.

Its chief apostle, Caesar Nongqunga, was an honoured guest at provincial centenary celebrations this year,
while ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe addressed members at an event hosted by the church in Mthatha last year.

Nongqunga told the congregation on Friday that youth league national executive committee member Andile Lungisa had asked for Malema to attend the service.

After initially announcing that Malema would address the congregation, Nongqunga made an about-turn, revealing that church leaders would have to first discuss the issue after receiving complaints.

“Our leadership, when they heard the youth league was coming, said it would be unfair if they were allowed to speak. That was the voice of the church, and they sent delegates from different provinces to see if we would allow Malema to speak,” he said.

During his sermon, themed “Lord forgive them for they know not what they are doing”, Nongqunga referred to crises within the ANC, urging Malema to sit down with President Jacob Zuma and make peace.

Lungisa, a member of the church since the age of 12, said: “We simply went there because we’ve got problems, and to pray for our struggle for economic freedom in our lifetime.”

Malema later went on to address the congregation at Last Move Ministries’ Easter convention, also in Butterworth.

There, he asked for prayers for the ANC, and reaffirmed the league’s commitment to fighting for economic freedom.

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