Zuma will be leading the mission on “nation-building” and will be joined by leaders from the Rastafarian, Hindu, Shembe and Khoisan religious groupings, among others, to pray against crime and divisive race issues.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) tweeted that it was only in South Africa “in the same week a convicted fraudster (Tony Yengeni) gets appointed to fight (or perhaps lead) corruption in the ruling party, #Zuma leads a prayer meeting against ‘crime as an enemy of economy’.”
Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage said it raised concern that churches and other faith groups have become involved in politics and are giving a platform such as a prayer meeting to politicians.
“We have no problem that Zuma has his followers and that people have their views about him but it is interesting that someone who is involved in such wrongdoing is given civil society platforms,” Duvenage said.
He said Outa did not believe Zuma should ever be given a platform to pray over and talk about fighting corruption.
“He was and is the problem so now how does he play a role in the solution?” Duvenage asked.
The planned campaign prayer tour will take place over two weekends.
The first leg on July 7 will focus on communities around Chatsworth, Isipingo, Wentworth and uMlazi. The second leg will take place a week later, targeting Phoenix, Verulam, Tongaat, Inanda and KwaMashu.
In a widely distributed poster, the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa) called on residents to join the “roadshow for nation-building prayer against crime and crime as an enemy of the economy”.
Nicsa provincial secretary Bishop Timothy Ngcobo said they believed Zuma was the “perfect” person to unite Africans and Indians due to his “great knowledge” of both communities.
Convener of the SA Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem), advocate Ashin Singh, said he did not believe prayer was going to save the country from its sufferings.
Singh said he strongly believed the country found itself with a failing health and education system, crime on the increase and on the verge of bankruptcy because of karma.
Karma is a Sanskrit word that translates into meaning that whatever good intent and good deeds one does would contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.
There has been an ongoing debates, especially in KZN, over race relations between Africans and Indians following comments by EFF leader Julius Malema, who on Youth Day said that the majority of Indians were racist.
Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the interfaith prayer campaign led by Zuma was not actually concerned with the issues but rather more focused on showing Zuma support and giving him a platform to speak.
He described the campaign as having a “narrow interest”.
“Once you start an initiative and centre it around one person, it is no longer for the community and becomes about that person.
“I don’t think these guys are genuine in addressing racial issues as they seem to have a specific agenda,” he said.
Khumalo said that crime and racism were a societal problem and did not need great individuals to promote good relations but rather South Africans to get involved.