ANC blessed by good relations

2012-04-21 09:57

We have noted with regret the recent article headlined “Churches tackle Zuma’s ANC” in City Press (April 8 2012). The article seeks to portray the ANC under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma as dismissive and neglectful of South African church leaders and their congregations.

We take issue with the one-sided and biased reporting, and selectively chosen extracts of the document titled “Theological and ethical reflections on the 2012 Centenary Celebrations of the African National Congress: A word to the ANC in these times by Kairos Southern Africa”, which we believe sensationalises the story and incorrectly depicts the ANC as discriminating against church leaders.

The article inferred that the Kairos letter to the ANC was wholly accusatory. But it failed to provide an accurate reflection of the contents, which also highlighted the ANC’s positive engagements with churches and leaders throughout its history.

The article further seeks to create divisions and tensions by highlighting those aspects that compare former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki with President Zuma, particularly their relationships with churches and their leaders.

This is clearly an attempt to paint the former presidents as more accommodating and responsive to the church than President Zuma. It would behove the writer to know that President Zuma has continued with the ANC culture of partnering with the broad interfaith movement.

Under his leadership, we have seen the formation of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa), which serves as a home for all the country’s religious leaders to “help fulfil the South African dream of unity in diversity” and work to build social cohesion, eradicate poverty and social ills, and build partnerships with communities, Parliament, government, NGOs and the business sector.

Nicsa’s formation follows President Zuma’s call in 2009 for the religious community to partner with government to establish a cohesive, caring society.

Recognising that the church was an important site of struggle during apartheid, the ANC sees it as a crucial partner in the future reconstruction and development of South Africa.

The perception that the ANC under President Zuma has alienated churches is therefore not only grossly inaccurate but baseless.

The formation of Nicsa brought together the National Religious Leaders’ Forum and the National Interfaith Leadership Council, thereby serving as a home for all the country’s religious leaders.

To argue that there is exclusionism of some church leaders based on the fallacy that there are rewards for those who support the ANC undermines the national democratic revolution.

The various concerns raised in the Kairos letter, namely factionalism within the ANC, corruption, inadequate building of social cohesion, poor standards of education for the majority of the poor and respecting the Constitution, are all concerns the ANC has recognised.

Numerous platforms have been used by the ANC to speak out against these many ills that seek to derail our agenda of transformation and undermine our objective of unity in diversity.

Dr Mathole Motshekga

Chairman of the ANC Commission on Religious and Traditional Affairs


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