Out­rage as Ramaphosa ‘hi­jacks’ church ser­vice

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - SANDI KWON HOO CHIEF RE­PORTER

CONGREGANTS have ob­jected to the “po­lit­i­cal hi­jack­ing” of a Ro­man Catholic church ser­vice by Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, in Jan Kem­p­dorp on Sun­day, which they be­lieved posed a se­ri­ous con­flict of in­ter­est.

All Sun­day church ser­vices were can­celled and parish­ioners were en­cour­aged to at­tend a spe­cial mass that was held to hand over funds, which were raised in the Kim­ber­ley district to train priests, to the bishop.

Ramaphosa, along with other ANC and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials as well as sup­port­ers dressed in ANC re­galia, oc­cu­pied the front benches at the event that was held at Jan Kem­p­dorp Pri­mary School in Valspan.

DA MPL Boi­tumelo Babuseng stated that he walked out of the church ser­vice when he re­alised that it was in fact a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.

“No one in­formed us that Ramaphosa would be ad­dress­ing the ser­vice. Many parish­ioners whom I spoke to were also unhappy and we would not have driven all the way to at­tend a po­lit­i­cal rally. It is un­heard of, for a Catholic church to give po­lit­i­cal per­son­al­i­ties a plat­form at a mass. Ramaphosa re­ceived a spe­cial bless­ing from the bishop,” said Babuseng.

He be­lieved that the church should re­main apo­lit­i­cal and not align it­self with a any politi­cian.

“This was un­ac­cept­able and I will lodge a for­mal com­plaint with the bishop. By na­ture, the church is sup­posed to be apo­lit­i­cal and should not be­come in­volved in fac­tional bat­tles. Ramaphosa at­tended the ser­vice to cam­paign. Will the church al­low Nkosazana DlaminiZuma to do the same?”

Babuseng ques­tioned why Ramaphosa was al­lowed to address con­gre­gates if he had at­tended the ser­vice in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

“He would have had to ob­tain per­mis­sion be­fore ar­riv­ing with an en­tourage of se­cu­rity and of­fi­cials. It is an em­bar­rass­ment and it has com­pro­mised the im­par­tial­ity of the church.”

Other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity also whole­heart­edly agreed that church and pol­i­tics should not mix.

Other parish­ioners, who chose to stay for the ser­vice, in­di­cated that Ramaphosa had taken the op­por­tu­nity to speak out against the mis­use of state re­sources, fight­ing cor­rup­tion and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion.

Messages on so­cial me­dia in­di­cated that while they were caught off guard, the bishop had made it clear from the on­set that Ramaphosa “must not think he is com­ing to cam­paign here”.

An­other per­son stated that Ramaphosa’s pledge to erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion amounted to noth­ing more than an empty prom­ise.

“Re­mem­ber wher­ever they (politi­cians) go, they leave some money. These churches are also des­per­ate. This is the same man who re­cently, when asked about Faith Muthambi’s poor per­for­mance, said it is not his busi­ness - he is just a deputy pres­i­dent. The noise he is mak­ing about state capture and the Gup­tas when ad­dress­ing ral­lies … he has never men­tioned it in Par­lia­ment.”

ANC na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions manager Khusela San­goni in­di­cated that Ramaphosa was de­ployed to Jan Kem­p­dorp and Kim­ber­ley in his ca­pac­ity as an ANC leader to “speak to com­mu­ni­ties”.

“We are not in­volved in any cam­paign­ing. Per­mis­sion was ob­tained from the church for the deputy pres­i­dent to at­tend the ser­vice,” said San­goni.

Fa­ther Bon­netswe Vic­tor from St Mary’s Cathe­dral par­ish ex­plained that Ramaphosa was not spe­cially in­vited by the church.

“It was not planned and we are not used to the high level of se­cu­rity that ac­com­pa­nied him to the ser­vice. His of­fice called on Fri­day re­quest­ing to at­tend the ser­vice that hosted all five dis­tricts in the Prov­ince. The church is apo­lit­i­cal and is not af­fil­i­ated to any in­di­vid­ual. Some­times a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial is al­lowed to say some­thing at the end of the ser­vice and Ramaphosa was of­fered the same op­por­tu­nity. The bishop made it clear from the start that Ramaphosa was not at­tend­ing in his ca­pac­ity as a po­lit­i­cal leader and was not here to cam­paign or fund-raise for any party.”

He was un­able to as­cer­tain whether Ramaphosa was a mem­ber of the Catholic church.

“We do not turn any­one away and Catholics as well as non-Catholics are wel­come to at­tend any mass. We wel­come any­one who wishes to pray for the coun­try, its lead­ers and so­ci­ety.”

Fa­ther Vic­tor did not dis­close if Ramaphosa had made any do­na­tions to the dio­cese or the fund to train priests.

“If there was any con­tri­bu­tion or pledge it is be­tween him and God. We do not make this sort of in­for­ma­tion pub­lic.”

SPE­CIAL BLESS­ING: Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa is blessed by Bishop Abel Gabuza. Pic­ture: Naledi Gaosekwe (Face­book)

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