Visvin Reddy

A prominent eThekwini councillor has angered church leaders by proclaiming that Jesus Christ would have voted ANC on May 18.

Visvin Reddy, ANC councillor and eThekwini infrastructure committee chairman, made the comments when introducing the ANC candidates for ward 69 (Mobeni Heights) residents at a local community hall on Sunday.

And yesterday he confirmed that he had said so, saying he had told those gathered in the hall: “If Jesus were here on election day he would vote ANC.”

A small group of people walked out after the comments - an anonymous caller said the group included six pastors who left the launch in disgust at the blasphemy.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesman, Sihle Zikalala, said the statement was not to be taken literally.

“Such a comment reflects a comparison, it’s not saying we are Jesus,” he said.

This is not the first time the ANC has encountered trouble with church leaders for biblical references.

In February President Zuma told a crowd in Mthatha that a vote for the ANC would get them into heaven.

“When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven. When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork who cooks people,” he had said.

The statement was widely condemned, but ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said Zuma was speaking metaphorically.

In 2008 Free State Premier Ace Magashule said the ANC president, Zuma, was suffering just like Jesus Christ did.

“Jesus was persecuted. He was called names and betrayed. It’s the same kind of suffering Zuma has had to bear recently, but he’s still standing strong. He’s not giving up,” Magashule had said.

Reddy said he did not say the ANC was Christ but that the mandate of the ANC was the same as Christ’s.

He said his statement was an analogy and should not be interpreted as blasphemous.

“In the book of Luke it says when Jesus came to Earth he fed the poor, clothed the naked and sheltered the homeless.

“His aim was to uplift the downtrodden and the ANC is doing the same today,” he said. “The statement was an analogy.”

He acknowledged that some people left the hall when he was speaking, but could not confirm that they were pastors.

Reddy, who last week said he was not bothered about his exclusion from the final list of ANC candidates to contest the coming May 18 elections, said Sunday’s statements had nothing to do with his exclusion.

“I am still an ANC member doing ANC work and therefore still campaigning for the elections.”

Dr Ronald Veerapen, the chairman of Chatsworth’s Phaphos fellowship, was not present when Reddy made the statement but cautioned against comparisons to Christ.

“From a Christian point of view you don’t use that type of analogy.”

He strongly condemned Reddy’s utterances and said he should have used examples of politicians like Nelson Mandela instead of biblical references to talk about the work done by the ANC. - Daily News