‘Lies and deceit’ destroying democracy, says premier

2011-05-12 13:04

Lies and deceit were being used to destroy South Africa’s democracy ahead of the May 18 local government elections, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said at an election prayer in Joburg today.

“They [elections] can be used to spread lies, malice and contempt, which serve to polarise and antagonise children from the same seed, from the same father and mother,” she said at the Standard Bank Arena.

“It is thus important that in this period we should remain sober and vigilant so that we do not become a ready fodder for the ones pretending to destroy our democracy and country.”

Mokonyane and Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Brigalia Bam joined dozens of religious leaders, clad in colourful mitres and other religious regalia, to pray for a peaceful election next week.

“Today, we gather to pray because we understand and respect the power of God,” said Mokonyane.

“We know that when our people were faced with adversity, it was the power of prayer and faith that provided fortitude and determination to strive for change.”

She called on God to be with South Africans at all times.

“As a God-fearing nation, we need to earnestly pray and ask for God’s will to prevail in these elections. Above all, we should pray for a peaceful, fair and free election.”

She said voting was a culture that sought to entrench democracy and avoid a rule of tyranny – as was the case during the apartheid regime.

“We have been there before and we shall not slide back to that era of oppression again. We now have a weapon in our hands: the right to vote.”

Earlier, a procession led by the Salvation Army band made its way from Johannesburg Stadium to the Standard Bank Arena. It was joined by Mokonyane and Bam who sang of the national anthem and later lit two big candles.

Interfaith songs were played over a loudspeaker as guests were escorted to their seats in the arena.

When the procession arrived, people danced and sang songs of praise and worship.

Leaders from seven different religions were given a minute each to say a prayer.

“We assemble here today inspired, guided and united by our faith to pray for a peaceful and democratic elections,” said Reverend Vukile Mehana.

“Today we all stand before God as one.”

Reverend Gift Moerane asked that political leaders be guided and strengthened ahead of the elections.

“We pray for peace and unity. We want to remind government and political leaders that the actual living conditions of people do not fall outside the light of the gospel.”

He urged leaders to respect the vote of the people.

“One of the responsibilities of a good and credible government is to serve God’s people and ensure peace, stability and good governance.”

Police and security guards kept an eye on proceedings. 

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