Church leaders hit out at ANC

2011-10-20 00:00

CHURCH leaders have condemned the ANC for allegedly trying to muscle in on and manipulate their leadership structures.

In a statement on Tuesday the National Church Leaders’ Consultation said they “strongly resent” the efforts of ANC chief whip, Dr Mathole Motshekga, the ANC parliamentary caucus and the ANC desk for cultural and religious affairs to interfere in church leadership structures.

The consultation comprises 18 churches including the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, the SACC, Shembe denominations and the Baptist Convention of South Africa.

The statement was followed by a series of tweets under Catholic leader Cardinal Wilfrid Napier’s name.

One of the three tweets by 5 pm yesterday read: “Their first action was to access meeting documents e.g. attendance register.

“This action has undone good relationship under [former presidents Thabo] Mbeki & [Nelson] Mandela”.

Another tweet elaborated the group’s criticism of the ANC’s actions.

“The statement is a reaction to ANC attempt to infiltrate church leaders meeting in order to manipulate it or at least spy on those present”.

The church leaders’ ire was provoked by an apparent attempt by Motshekga’s political adviser, Livhuwani Matsila, to attend their meeting at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

“We are leaders in our own right and lead by biblical mandate. We are deeply offended by efforts by Mr Livhuwani Matsila and others to infiltrate our meeting in Johannesburg without invitation.

“This is an unwarranted intrusion on our discussions and compromises our freedom of association and of religion.

“We call on President Zuma to hear this clearly and to engage with us in our own capacity. Dr Motshekga does not enjoy our confidence,” read the statement.

Later on Tuesday Motshekga’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothopa, responded: “The accusation stems from an innocent mistake today, in which the chief whip’s political adviser mistakenly walked into the hall where the National Church Leaders’ Consultation was meeting. The meeting, which the political adviser was due to attend, happened to be taking place at the same venue … but in a different hall,” said Mothapo.

After the chair of the meeting informed him that he was in the wrong hall, he apologised and went to the venue of his meeting.

“Dr Motshekga was not part of this confusion and he was not even present at the venue where the two meetings were taking place. He is currently in Switzerland on parliament business. Walking into the wrong meeting is a simple mistake that anyone can make … As servants of God, we trust that the leaders of the National Church Leaders’ Consultation will find this little mistake worthy of their forgiveness.”

However, in a statement issued yesterday by the church leaders, which described the country’s education and health as being in “shambles”, the leaders stated again that they “reacted strongly to a perceived effort to muscle in and manipulate churches by political organisations and individuals”.

• thandom@witness.co.za

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