Baleka Mbete. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu.

Johannesburg - ANC national chairwoman Baleka Mbete has appealed to religious leaders to help further entrench the ANC’s grip on power.

She also warned against being misled into the “wilderness” by opposition political parties.

“We hope you pray for us so that we don’t mislead people and take them into the wilderness,” she said, invoking the spirit of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and his wife Albertina.

“We hope God will help us continue to move on the right path that we have known since our childhood, Madiba, Oliver Tambo, MaSisulu,” Mbete said on Saturday, addressing congregants at the Change Bible Church in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.

Mbete avoided telling the congregants to vote for the ANC on Saturday, but her message was unmistakable.

“We are also hoping that God gives us energy to continue to make a difference. That is why the ANC waged the struggle for many years.”

Mbete appeared to cause a stir among the congregants when she suggested that the spirits of Tambo, Mandela and Sisulu would be watching them as they cast their votes.

“They (Tambo, Mandela and Sisulu) say they are still alive,” she said, to a chorus of protestation.

Mbete seemed to spark another controversy when she questioned why God should be referred to as a “He”.

“One day they must enter into a discussion as to who said when we speak about God we must say He? Who knows, it might be She,” she said. The congregants simply laughed this off.

Mbete then told them to give the ANC another chance in government.

“It was only after 82 years that we started to achieve (freedom). It’s only 20 years that we have been in the seat to try to use the instruments (of power), to make a difference,” she said, continuing to try and charm congregants to vote for the ANC.

“The very fact that this place is called Change Bible Church shows that this place is the place that makes us succeed. That name (is) very vibrant. I like the name. It resonates with us, with what we are about as the ANC.”

She echoed President Jacob Zuma’s statements that religious leaders should help pray for a peaceful election on May 7. “Let’s remember that Mandela led us into a free South Africa. Let’s thank that today we are regularly able to exercise that right to vote. We have different political parties competing, but let that happen in a way that we respect each other. So that every citizen enjoys what the people fought for.”

Sunday Independent