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Johannesburg - The Christian Democratic Party will check if the ANC's continued misuse of God for political purposes is a contravention of the electoral code, its leader said on Friday.
“The continued remarks by ANC cadres, with President Jacob Zuma leading the pack, which are offensive to Christians, continue unabated, in spite of kind requests, reprimands, and even serious criticism pointing out that they are blasphemous,” CDP leader Theunis Botha said in a statement.
“We will… establish whether these offensive remarks towards Christians do not contravene the electoral code.”
The Diamond Fields Advertiser published the same article quoting ANC Northern Cape chairman John Block as saying that walking with Zuma “is like walking with God”.
“(Zuma) you are the only candidate we have for the elections. We are already talking about the future (beyond May 7) because we are not walking this path alone, sihamba nomfundisi (we are walking with a priest),” Block was quoted as saying.
“Xa uhamba nomfundisi kufana nokuthi uhamba noThixo (when you are walking with a priest, it is like you are walking with God).”
Block was speaking at the Jim Summers Hall in Kimberley on Wednesday where Zuma was visiting.
On Thursday, African National Congress Northern Cape secretary Zamani Saul disputed the article, saying Block never said that.
“… In his (Block's) introductory remarks he made reference to the pastors and priests that graced the event, saying 'we are happy that we have you, as religious leaders in our midst… When we walk with you, it is like we are walking with God, because you are God's representatives',” said Saul.
He said no reference was made to Zuma, and demanded a retraction of the article.
On Friday, The Star said it stood by its story, and quoted Saul as urging party members not to forget that Zuma was an ordained priest.
“UZuma ngumfundisi (is a priest). He is an ordained priest,” said Saul.
ANC Northern Cape spokeswoman Keitumetse Mathiba told Sapa this was correct.
“Yes, it is correct. Zuma is a priest.”
She said many ANC members were priests and pastors from different religious denominations.
Botha said despite the ANC disputing the quote, the ANC had used God before.
“We welcome the fact that the ANC this time around objected by stating that Block was quoted out of context, but this does not alter the fact that the ANC continues to misuse God for political purposes - even when justifying actions and policies that are contrary to biblical morality,” he said.
“This incident with Block, which occurred in the presence of Zuma, as far as we know was not reprimanded by him.”
Botha said the CDP had no choice but to take the issue up with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Language, Religious, and Cultural Communities.
ANC national spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said remarks by its leaders were sensationalised.
“I don't think we will be commenting on that for now. There has been a concerted effort to sensationalise the remarks made by ANC leaders,” she said.
“The ANC… would never seek to use the name of God in vain.” - Sapa