No touting for votes at Moria, ZCC rules

By Time of article published Apr 11, 2004

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By Moshoeshoe Monare

Although most political parties would have liked a platform to address the four million strong Zionist Christian Church (ZCC) worshippers on Sunday in Moria, the church has prohibited political speeches.

But the leaders of nine political parties were invited to the church's headquarters, east of Polokwane, as part of the church's annual pilgrimage.

They are the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), African National Congress, Azapo, Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), New National Party (NNP) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM).

ZCC Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane is expected to thank politicians on Sunday for heeding his call for peace 10 years ago when he asked key political players to Moria to pray for peace.

The bishop's spokesperson, Emanuel Motolla, said the summit at the church's headquarters was aimed at celebrating 10 years of democracy and also to call for peace in the third general election.

"Even though the level of violence has gone down, we in the church feel the loss of one life is one too many. The bishop will call for peace and restraint in the coming election," Motolla said.

However, he said they had invited political parties for prayers and not for politicking. "No political speeches will be allowed," he said, although some parties would have liked a platform from which to speak to ZCC voters.

Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the ACDP, wanted the opportunity for his Christian party to cement ties with the ZCC worshippers.

"We would like it if they give parties an opportunity to speak. If they do, the ACDP's message will be well received by church members.

"While other parties support abortion, pornography and special rights for homosexuals, the ACDP is against all these things, and I'm sure church members are with us on this one," said Meshoe.

Douglas Gibson of the DA also expressed an interest in the pilgrimage. "When one receives an invitation by somebody as influential in the church community as the bishop , we take it seriously. Many South Africans are members of the ZCC, many of which are members of the DA," said Gibson.

Themba Godi, the deputy president of the PAC, also saw an opportunity for his party's presence at the largest black church in the country.

"Churches are one of the significant institutions of the society that help to keep the fabric of the society together. The invitation is an opportunity to interact with that constituency," Godi said.

Mosibudi Mangena, the Azapo president, said there was hope when the "largest church is concerned about entrenchment of democracy and is anxious that things go well in the country".

The last time politicians were allowed a platform in Moria was in 1994, when Lekganyane believed they could, amid the bloodshed, use the opportunity to retrain their members.

There was also a rumour that ZCC followers, estimated at two million then, would not participate in the first election. But Lekganyane called on his flock to exercise their democratic right and "vote for parties of their choice".

Motolla said that this year the bishop would call for ZCC members, "irrespective of their political persuasions", to strive for a peaceful South Africa.

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