Officials of the African National Congress led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, held a Cake Cutting Ceremony and Birthday Celebration in Kimberley. Picture: Danie van der Lith 

Kimberley - In an attempt for the ANC to rekindle its floundering ties with religious and traditional leaders, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa has likened them to shareholders within the movement.

Addressing religious leaders at Galeshewe township in Kimberley on Wednesday as the party celebrated 108 years since it was formed, Ramaphosa said the ANC could not divorce itself from the church, even if it wanted to. 

He said the party and the church had strong historic ties.

Ramaphosa was referring to the fact that the founding president of the ANC was Dr John Langalibale Dube, a man of the cloth. 

Years later, many other religious men like Inkosi Albert Luthuli (who was a pastor) and Reverend Zaccheous Mahabane, lead the party. 

Relations between the church and the ANC became strained during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure, when religious leaders who were highly critical of the government were told by Zuma supporters to remove themselves from party politics and were urged to stick to preaching. 

The ANC cannot divorce itself from the church, says Ramaphosa. Video: Sihle Mavuso

Ramaphosa said another "shareholder" in the party were the traditional leaders.

By this he was referring to the fact that traditional leaders like Lesotho and eSwatini Kings of the early 90s donated some money when the ANC was formed in Bloemfontein in 1912. This was while local kings also did the same. 

Ramaphosa also said intellectuals were stakeholders in the ANC. He said without their work with the two other groupings, the ANC would not exist.

Politics Bureau