Reverend Olga Dlamini, left; first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe with President Cyril Ramaphosa; Reverend Roger Scholtz; Zandile Gumede, eThekwini mayor and Bishop Linda Mandindi at an elections prayer hosted by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa at the Durban Exhibition centre. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa, buoyed by the turnout at the party’s manifesto launch in Durban, on Sunday urged the Methodist Church of South Africa to assist in getting an estimated 3 million young South Africans to register to vote.

Ramaphosa was invited to speak at the Church’s coastal region gathering by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, Sihle Zikalala. The duo spent the week mobilising for Saturday’s manifesto launch and campaigning.

He said the upcoming elections were as important, if not more so, than those held in 1994.

“We drew our strength from you (during apartheid) and today we want to draw strength from you. Through prayer, you engaged in the struggle to get us to where we are,” he said.

“For 25 years of democracy you have been the standard bearer of what is good.” He asked the church to pray for the government and the upcoming elections. Ramaphosa said he was impressed by the church’s focus on the youth and the challenges they face.

“As the Church, help us to encourage young people to register. Help us to get them to register so they can execute their tasks as citizens of our country and to take our country to another level.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Ramaphosa, accompanied by his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe, said he was pleased that the church had placed youth issues at its forefront.

“As the ANC we are putting an emphasis on the role young people should play we want to empower our youth so that they can play an important role in the life of our country.

“Our country cannot be a great country if we leave young people behind.” He said this was the reason education had played such a prominent part in the manifesto.

“Young people will get free education and free accommodation,” he told the congregation.

Ramaphosa said the church had played an integral role in the ANC from its very formation.

“When the ANC was formed in 1912, those who came up with the idea were from the church, including the Methodist Church. The ANC belongs to you and we can never change that.”

He said that when the country was liberated it was thanks to churches who never forgot their role and never gave up on hope that South Africa would be free from a system of racial oppression. “Your dream was fulfilled your prayer was fulfilled.”

On Saturday, Ramaphosa said the party had recommitted to renewal and focusing on building a party that South Africans could be proud of.

“A good start has been made, but far more work needs to be done to convert the mood of renewal into practical action to build a fully united, cohesive and effective movement for ongoing transformation.

“We have also made progress in restoring the integrity and credibility of the ANC. Where necessary, we have taken measures to deal with cadres who have undermined the integrity of the movement and the ethical standards expected of public representatives and ANC leaders.” Ramaphosa said that while this was a difficult task, the party remained resolute in its efforts to stamp out deviant and abhorrent practices.

Political Bureau