SACC can just go to hell, say pro-Msholizi churches
Zuma case sparks war of words among bishops
THE South African Council of Churches (SACC) “can go to hell”, says Bishop Bheki Ngcobo of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa). which has accused the SACC of being part of conspiracy to destroy former president Jacob Zuma.
Ngcobo, who leads a pro-Zuma church grouping, is incensed that the former president is back in court facing charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.
The criminal charges, recently reinstated by the National Prosecuting Authority, arise from allegations that Zuma solicited bribes during the multi-billion-rand government arms deal in the mid-1990s.
According to the indictment, Zuma, who was then ANC deputy president and KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, illicitly pocketed payments from the French arms company, Thales, via his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. This allegedly went on from October 1995 to July 2005 in 783 payments totalling R4 072 499.85.
While the SACC was critical of Zuma’s tenure in office and welcomed his recent resignation, Ngcobo reckoned that his ongoing prosecution was part of a broader power struggle within the ANC.
Leading a pack of Nicsa men of the cloth who rallied in support of Zuma at his appearance in the Durban High Court last week, Ngcobo lashed out at the SACC for welcoming Zuma’s recent resignation.
“Some, like the South African Council of Churches, have found Zuma guilty even before he appeared in court,” said Ngcobo.
“We cannot tolerate being ruled by the SACC. They are nothing to us indigenous churches in South Africa. We are not looking for anything from them. They can go to hell.”
While the SACC has not bothered to enter into a war of words over Zuma, Bishop Emeritus Rubin Phillip of the Anglican Church has come to the defence of the SACC.
Phillip, formerly a leader of the Black Consciousness Movement and deputy president to Steve Biko in the South African Students’ Organisation in 1969, is renowned for peace-making, reconciliation and mediation initiatives throughout KwaZulu-Natal.
“I am saddened that part of the church has been co-opted by some of the political leadership,” he said.
“Instead of standing with the poor and suffering they are defending policies that are increasing the suffering of our people.”
Phillip said it was problematic when church groups defended policies that worked against the poor.
“The National Interfaith Council of South Africa is one example,” he warned. Ngcobo argues that Nicsa supports radical economic transformation, free education for poor people and the expropriation of land without compensation.
This also a rallying call of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Black Land First Movement.
Nicsa is a merger of the National Religious Leaders’ Forum and the National Interfaith Leaders Council. The formation arose from a presidential interfaith summit organised by Zuma in 2008.
Zuma described it as “the holy revolution” of people of God against corruption, moral degeneration and marginalisation of previously disadvantaged people.
The relationship between Zuma and Nicsa has spanned more than a decade and looks set to continue.
Ngcobo and his Nicsa associate, Bishop Vusi Dube, who also represents the ANC on the KwaZuluNatal provincial legislature, said they would continue to mobilise support for Zuma ahead of his next court appearance on June 8.
Ngcobo and Dube said those who thought they were “holier-than-thou” would be shamed when Zuma walked scot-free.
“We are going to be visiting Msholozi’s homestead to show his enemies that we love him and we are going to defend him,” said Ngcobo.
A welcome-back ceremony is planned for Zuma on April 21 at his Nkandla residence.
OPPOSING FORCES: Church leaders from the National Interfaith Council of South Africa rally in support of former president Jacob Zuma at his court appearance on corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges.