Zuma prayer splits KZN religious body and senior members accused of using former president’s name to make money
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Durban - Hours before the welcome home prayer for Jacob Zuma could start on Thursday, there is already a split as some senior members of the KwaZulu-Natal Interfaith are at loggerheads, making accusations that former president Jacob Zuma’s name is being used for financial gain.
The split is over how the welcome home rally or prayer, as others call it, taking place in Durban today, is being organised.
Some in the once-powerful and united KwaZulu-Natal Interfaith Council allege that the prayer “is a money-making scheme using Msholozi’s (Zuma’s) name.”
A senior member of the council, Bishop Sandile Ndlela, who is well-known for being at the forefront during Zuma's court cases and other political events while fully clad in religious regalia, claimed that they were elbowed out at the last minute because there was money involved.
Ndlela claimed that although they knew about the prayer and they have always wanted it to take place, it was eventually hijacked by people who wanted to make money for themselves.
Among those he named was Bishop Vusi Dube of the eThekwini community church, who is also the council’s senior member.
Ndlela also named another bishop of the council as working with Dube to hijack the prayer and make it a personal money-making scheme.
“We don’t know anything about this prayer. As you can see, they are doing it on their own, with everyone determined to invoice the (interfaith council, which gets yearly grants from the eThekwini municipality) for the stage and sound system.
“The purpose of this prayer is not to pray but to make money for themselves. We are not involved. It’s their tricks to enrich themselves,” a livid Ndlela said in a voice note sent to Independent Media on Thursday morning.
It has since emerged that before reaching out to the media, Ndlela tried to lobby other members of the council by sending voice notes to their WhatsApp group, but he was ignored.
“This shows that one will claim money for mounting the stage, one for the sound system, while some of us are used as fools to mobilise people to come to the prayer. They will be calling this a prayer while they know very well that behind the scene, they make financial gains,” Ndela further alleged.
The secretary of the council, Bishop Zinhle Jali, said she was “also in the dark about the prayer“ but did not want to say a lot about the matter.
Hitting back at Ndlela, Dube said the prayer is organised by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, and he was personally roped in by Super Zuma (former KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial secretary), who is one of the organisers of the prayer and a relative of the former head of state.
“I have no idea where Ndlela is getting all this. Everything is done by the Jacob Zuma Foundation, and we were roped in just to lend a helping hand. I have nothing to do with the procurement of marquees and sound systems,” Dube said.
He said Ndlela could be angry as he was not involved in the organising of the prayer.
“Maybe it is because he was not involved in the organising of the prayer. Well, even in the past, Ndlela was not involved in organising anything. He is only involved when we go to rallies or court,” he said.
It is not the first time the council has been split over Zuma. In late 2018, senior member and former Zuma backer Bishop Bheki Ngcobo split from the council after reports that there was a fallout between him and Dube.
Ngcobo later formed his party, the African Freedom Revolution (AFR), which later collapsed.
Dube later described Ngcobo as a power-hungry individual who thought that by standing behind Zuma, he was going to be rewarded with a senior deployment by the ANC and left when that did not happen.