South Africa is a country based on the rules and principles of God, said ANC President Jacob Zuma in Kempton Park on Thursday.

The Preamble of the Constitution "calls upon God to help us" said Zuma at the National Presidential Religious Leaders summit.

"When all of us take office in government... we raise our right hand and indeed pronounce... so help me God. I believe no one can argue South Africa is not based on the principles of God," said Zuma.

"The bible says pray for those who are in government. I believe we must go beyond that. You must advise and criticise if there are things we do that are not in keeping with the principles of God."

Earlier the ANC's chaplain general Reverend Vukile Mehana told Zuma he must feel "safe".

"You must know that you are safe. As we prayed for your predecessor, we will continue to pray for you. Don't shake. The God, your ancestors, are here." - Sapa