Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma hit back at Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu on Monday for his criticism of the ANC, two days before general polls.
"My understanding is that bishops and pastors are there to pray for those who go wrong, not to enter into political lives," Zuma told journalists after the Anglican archbishop emeritus last month questioned the calibre of the country's leaders.
Known as South Africa's moral compass, Tutu has been very critical of the ANC government's graft scandals and poor governance.
A few weeks ago he reaffirmed that the ruling party would not get his ballot in the 7 May elections.
"I have said I won't vote for them and say it with a very heavy heart," he lamented after saying the new leaders fell short of liberation heroes like Nelson Mandela.
Zuma's government has limped from one scandal to another, the most prominent being R230m in state-paid security upgrades at his private Nkandla home.
This has prompted a group of ANC stalwarts to call on voters to spoil their ballot - a campaign which Tutu supported.
But Zuma disapproved of the measure.
"For pastors to say don't vote... I think to me that is a problem. That is entering into a political thing."
His statements come despite the fact that numerous clergymen from different religions have attended campaign rallies of the ANC, and even prayed for the party's victory.
Other political parties also often invoke religion in their support.
Relations between the "Arch" and the ANC have been prickly in recent years, but the party has carefully worded its responses to the often-public diatribes of a popular figure.
"I respect pastors, I respect bishops. That is his views, it is his own views, and he talks to people," Zuma said on Monday. Download the News24 elections app from one of these stores.