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Mantashe shrugs off clerics’ call

Johannesburg

- The ANC has described as a “mischievous attempt to influence” Mangaung a letter sent to President Jacob Zuma by a group of prominent religious leaders warning him of the country’s moral decay.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Credit: INLSA

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told journalists on Tuesday, at the party’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Joburg that the call by religious leaders that the church movement would mobilise civil society to bring about a healthy democracy was a move by not only the religious community but also business and the banking sector.

“We are disappointed by these important sectors of society who at the 11th hour are trying to influence the outcome of the 53rd national conference of the ANC,” Mantashe said.

The letter stated that South Africans yearned for new leadership and that the current leaders “had lost their moral compass”. It was signed by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Church Leaders Consultation, Bishop Joe Seoka of the SA Council of Churches, the Reverend Edwin Moss Ntlha of the Evangelical Alliance of SA and the Reverend Edwin Arrison of Kairos Southern Africa. The letter was sent to Zuma and copies were forwarded to DA leader Helen Zille and various political and economic leaders in South Africa.

“We can’t allow any sector to write the policy of the ANC,” added Mantashe. “It is not a question of disrespect, it is a question of principle.”

Mantashe said the ANC had had meetings with religious organisations and other sectors of society, and they should have dealt with these issues then.

“They sent this letter to the president in a week of the conference and you expect us to take them seriously,” he wondered.

The letter sent to Zuma read in part: “During apartheid, some church leaders wrote to political leaders but they often failed to listen to these voices. Unfortunately, we find a similar trend today, but it is our duty to speak to you even when we think you might not be listening. At this moment we believe that our democracy can be significantly improved.”

If political leaders did not take them seriously, the letter said they would work towards “bringing about a more healthy democracy”.

Mantashe said it wasn’t just the government’s task to stop moral decay, but the responsibility of other structures in society.

“We expect the clergy to provide leadership to society and help the ANC to help society,” he said.

Mantashe added that ANC members, like anyone else, could be influenced by what is reported in the media.

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