Allow churches to open to help the destitute - Kenneth Meshoe writes to Ramaphosa

2020-05-08 17:08
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe. (Netwerk24)

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe. (Netwerk24)

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ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe wants churches to be allowed to open for relief work, and he has sent a written request to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Meshoe said a lot of the outreach work government fell short of could be done by faith-based organisations.

The ACDP leader, who has been in isolation for 45 days, tested positive for the novel coronavirus last month.

He, ACDP MP Steve Swart and popular evangelist Angus Buchanan were among those who tested positive after attending an event in Bloemfontein, hosted by the Divine Restoration Ministries.

READ | ACDP Kenneth Meshoe and Steve Swart test positive for Covid-19

Five others who attended the event - which guests from the United States, Israel and France also attended - had tested positive.

"Churches are being stopped from doing what they have been doing for 30 years and more while people go hungry," Meshoe told News24.

He argued that the government needed to recognise the role churches played in communities.

Healthcare workers, those in food production, security services and the media were allowed to continue working during the hard Level 5 lockdown in the country from March 27.

While more industries have been opened under the Level 4 lockdown, numerous restrictions, including the prohibition of large gatherings, remain in place.

The ACDP leader said this was unfair to many who relied on churches for their daily meals, adding that he and many religious leaders received calls for food aid while the government has struggled to ensure that food parcels reached those in distress.

READ | A quarter of South Africans have no money for food

Meshoe said churches across the country, except for those in the Western Cape, had to wait for several weeks when they tried to get permits to assist communities.

"In the Western Cape, that government understood it didn't have capacity. It allowed mayors to issue permits to churches," said Meshoe.

"In Cape Town, pastors and churches are doing community work. They are given permits in 24 hours, yet when you apply to national [government], you wait for three to four weeks," he complained.

The ACDP leader also took issue with people who frowned upon his call, saying there was a "bias" against the church.

"People are affected in the legislature, in the Parliament, in shopping malls… are you going to say avoid shopping malls because that's where people are getting affected?" he asked.

He added that it was "unfair" that churches were being isolated when they had complied with regulations, including those barring large gatherings, at the time that the president declared a national state of disaster.

Read more on:    acdp  |  kenneth meshoe  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  coronavirus
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