Church becomes new battleground for votes

The Easter weekend was a hive of activity for politicians vying for the hearts and minds of churchgoers. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

The Easter weekend was a hive of activity for politicians vying for the hearts and minds of churchgoers. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 1, 2024


The Easter weekend was a hive of activity for politicians vying for the hearts and minds of churchgoers in pursuit of victory in the upcoming elections on May 29.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his EFF counterpart, Julius Malema, took their request for prayers to Limpopo where the two leaders joined the St Engenas Lekganyane’s Zion Christian Church’s (ZCC) faithful in prayer during the Easter weekend.

Build One South Africa (BOSA) leader, Mmusi Maimane visited the Grace Bible Church in Soweto.

Many South Africans believe politicians are only interested in the votes as some of the churches wield great influences in the lives of their members.

In spite of the ANC having co-ordinated Ramaphosa’s Easter weekend schedule and being in the company of ANC leaders such as Minister of Electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and other ANC leaders in Limpopo, Ramaphosa insisted said he visit the church in his personal capacity.

“It is always a pleasure for me to come here to the ZCC and join in prayer, with the Zionists here in Lekganyane. For me it is a humbling moment. A moment of great reflection. Particularly when you hear the sermon that was delivered by the Bishop. The Bishop delivered a very incredible seminal sermon about practical things on how to take the country forward and move ahead. So, I leave here and my spirits are high and I am glad to be here,” he said.

“I greet you all Zionists, I came here in my personal capacity and not for politics,” Ramaphosa said to loud cheers.

“Bishop, I want to congratulate the church for turning 100 years. Today I am starting to see so many people. I also want to thank you for the lovely church regalia that you have donned.”

Meanwhile, Malema who was accompanied by his wife and the EFF’s head of presidency, Vuyani Pambo, joined the congregation in prayer and went on to share a moment with church leader Bishop Engenas Lekganyane.

ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula, who attended a church service during one of the Easter programmes in KwaZulu-Natal, touched many lives when he donated R200 000 to one of the churches he visited.

“As we celebrate Easter this year, we also celebrate 30 years of triumph over evil of apartheid. Noting the high impact work that the church is engaged in that saves lives of young people, we have an obligation to support this work. To give support to the church is to contribute positively towards nation building. If the churches are standing, the nation is standing and that is how you build a nation,” Mbalula said.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika in Esikhawini, KZN on Sunday, Mbalula added that the church is “reconstruction and development programme of the soul” which is fundamental to ANC’s success at the polls.

“We recognise as the ANC that leaders are not pure,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the MK Party, which took its campaign to various churches, including the Shembe church and other houses of God when it launched itself in January, will have any impact in the church.

At the weekend, following a car accident scare, Zuma took part in a local church service in Nkandla.

Zuma’s presidency in the MK Party was launched with much fanfare after the All African Alliance Movement (AAAM), which claimed to have more than 14 million members, endorsed the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP).

AAAM Secretary General, Bishop Meshack Tebe, told members of the MK Party in Soweto in January that it is possible for the party to get a two-thirds majority through its numbers in church.

“We are saying it is possible for the MK Party to get two-thirds majority. We want to call everyone in order for us to achieve the two-thirds majority in the polls. Come let us join forces and vote together and vote for uMkhonto weSizwe,” he said.

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