PRETORIA – The EFF has continued its criticism aimed at the ACDP over the latter's calls for congregants to resume religious gatherings from today despite the rise in infection numbers of Covid-19 in the country.
This follows the decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) led by President Cyril Ramaphosa to approve the reopening of churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship after it was lobbied by religious bodies who wanted inclusion among sectors allowed to open under lockdown level 3.
The ACDP and its president Kenneth Meshoe had been among the most vocal lobbyists for the reopening of churches despite them being flagged as fertile grounds for Covid-19 mass infections.
The biggest churches in South Africa, including the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and the Nazareth Baptist Church, as well as leaders of other faiths have called on South Africans to stay at home and not convene religious gatherings as it remained risky to do so.
Yesterday, EFF national spokesperson Vuyani Pambo blasted the ACDP’s call for people to go to church as “dangerous, murderous and hypocritical”.
“To show that ACDP is driven by ill intentions, their justification for opening places of worship rests on the fact that churches contribute to the economy. In their recent statement, they go to the extent of demonstrating that churches employ people, pay taxes and make financial contributions to Covid-19 Solidarity Fund,”Pambo said.
Following the EFF’s call for its members, supporters and South Africans to reject their permission to resume church gatherings, ACDP national executive committee (NEC) member Bongani Luthuli dismissed EFF leader Julius Malema’s remark that churches were not contributing to the economy.
“Many churches are registered as Public Benefit Organizations and thus duly pay relevant taxes. As churches have become more organized over the years, they have become places of employment where members of the church are employed therein and many external service providers are engaged through service level agreements such as security services amongst others,” Luthuli said.
Luthuli lambasted what he called the undermining of the church over its request to reopen, adding that “such corporate gatherings have the power to bring healing and restoration when we are in one accord”.
He argued that churches were ready to protect their members from the infectious virus, rebutting Malema's warning that mass infections had occurred in a Bloemfontein church gathering in March, where Meshoe was also infected while in attendance.
"The situation is different today. We all know what to do to take safety precautions. We have regulations that must be complied with," Luthuli said.
Pambo said the calls by the ZCC and the Shembe church bolstered the party’s call for people to stay at home and away from religious gatherings.
“It also proves that ACDP does not speak for the millions of congregants and Christians inspired by Bishop Lekganyane and Bishop Shembe. This is already proven by the fact of their dismissal of the call to open places of worship. ACDP stands alone in its path, based on a convoluted interpretation of the church and the economy,” he said.