Commotion after Zuma's Christianity comments

2011-12-21 22:24

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma's comments about the advent of Christianity in South Africa caused a flurry of criticism and clarifications from various groups on Wednesday.

The Timeslive website quoted Zuma as telling the launch of a road safety and crime awareness campaign in KwaZulu-Natal that "as Africans, long before the arrival of religion and [the] gospel, we had our own ways of doing things".

"Those were times that the religious people refer to as dark days but we know that, during those times, there were no orphans or old-age homes. Christianity has brought along these things," he said.

Following the remarks, the presidency and African National Congress chief whip were at pains to clarify Zuma's remarks. Party chief whip Mathole Motshekga said in a statement that Zuma's comments were "perfectly sound".

"Irresponsible journalism will always find a creative way to mislead, and in this case it inexplicably saw an attack on Christianity in the president's perfectly sound assertion," he said.

Motshekga said a distinction needed to be drawn between "Christianity as a faith" and "nefarious missionary activities, which have brought sufferings upon our people".

He said, for example, colonialism was aided by certain missionary "enterprises" who worked under the "guise" of Christianity. Even apartheid was practised "under the cloak of Christianity".

Each for himself

"While African culture has since time immemorial taught people to care for each other, embrace and show kindness to one another, the advent of [a] Western way of living condoned [a] 'each man for himself' principle," said Motshekga.

"This has resulted in elderly people being condemned to old age homes and parentless children sent to orphanages."

Earlier, the presidency issued a separate statement in which it said Zuma's comments were a call not to neglect African culture.

"While we should embrace Western culture and Christianity, we should not neglect the African ways of doing things," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

"Western culture had brought about the end of the extended family as an institution, leading to the need for government to establish old age homes, orphanages and other mechanisms to support the poor and vulnerable.

"Even poverty was an unknown factor as neighbours were always ready to assist each other, giving one another milk or cattle where needed."

'Hypocritical'

African Christian Democratic Party president Kenneth Meshoe said Zuma's comments were "hypocritical".

"During elections he [Zuma] runs to churches to get votes," said Meshoe.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba said while he did not know the full context in which Zuma's comments were made: "We all have a tendency, as we move on in years, to romanticise the past as utopian and without its challenges.

"Given the number of orphans and old age homes, lack of proper sanitation, poor education provision, death on our roads at this critical period for Christians, we need as Christ commanded, to house these orphans as we did of old.

"We need to care for our elderly better as it was done of old."

SACC

The SA Council of Churches general secretary reverend Mautji Pataki said: "We do not understand why the president, whom we have always counted as one amongst us Christians, would find the Christian faith to be so hopeless with regard to building humanity."

Civil rights group AfriForum said it planned to discuss Zuma's "extremely insensitive" comments with the government and ANC.

Co-founder of the International Orphan Network website, Sean Grant, said South Africa's current problems were the real issue.

"The current culture in South Africa is [of] abandonment and negligence. If it weren't for religious groups and non-profit organisations, there would be far more lack of care, if not dying," he said.

Self-promotion

The ANC has a history of using religious terminology to promote itself. On Tuesday, Motshekga received thunderous applause after he told attendants at the Limpopo African National Congress's elective conference in Polokwane that "the organisation has a responsibility to rule until Jesus pays us another visit".

These remarks echoed comments made by Zuma in June 2009 at a rally in Mpumalanga, when he said the ANC "will rule until Jesus comes".

In February this year, according to a Democratic Alliance transcript of Zuma's remarks during a voter registration drive in Mthatha, the president said: "When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven. When you don't vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork... who cooks people."

In December 2008, while Zuma was still involved in court action around corruption charges - which were subsequently dropped - Free State ANC leader Ace Magashule told Volksblad newspaper that Zuma was suffering just like Jesus Christ did.

"Jesus was persecuted. He was called names and betrayed. It's the same kind of suffering Mr Zuma has had to bear recently, but he's still standing strong."

Likened to Jesus

In November 2008, Zuma told a national presidential religious leaders conference, that "no-one can argue South Africa is not based on the principles of God".

In 2007 Zuma was ordained as an honorary pastor at a meeting of independent charismatic churches in Durban.

During his 2006 rape trial, many of his supporters likened him to Jesus.

One supporter was spotted outside the High Court in Johannesburg at the time with a white, wooden home-made crucifix, and asking: "Why are you crucifying Zuma?"

The crucifix bore a picture of Zuma with outstretched arms.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sacc  |  afriforum  |  anc  |  jacob zuma  |  mathole motshekga  |  mac maharaj  |  thabo makgoba  |  ace magashule  |  religion
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
131 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be self sufficient, right and in control today. There is a tendency to hold on too tightly to your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.