Bheki Cele File picture: Itumeleng English/ANA Pictures

Durban - ANC national executive committee member Bheki Cele has claimed that there were attempts, by fellow ANC comrades, to bar him from addressing a church gathering at the weekend.

Speaking at Gamalakhe on the South Coast on Monday, he spoke of an attempt, allegedly by some within eThekwini mayor’s office, to bar him from speaking at a church in uMlazi. Cele said he visited the church in his capacity as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

“Somebody from the mayor’s office phoned and told Reverend Ndlovu that I was not to be allowed to speak at church. They told him that if he allowed me in they were not going to work with him in future.”

Cele said he was allowed into the church, where he spent four hours and got a chance to address the congregants. He said he was disappointed that some within the ANC were behaving like apartheid leaders. “I was shocked that while we come from a past which involved church raids, yet within the ANC there are some people who are behaving like Vlok and Kruger who persecuted religious leaders.”

Mayoral spokesperson Mthunzi Gumede denied the allegations, saying the mayor’s office respected religious leaders.

“We believe churches are for all people and they are for all parties. We respect their independence.”

It is understood that Cele plans to send a formal complaint to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. Cele has become one of the most vocal critics of President Jacob Zuma and it is believed that this has angered some of his comrades in the province.

The Mercury