President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle last week provoked strong criticism by national church leaders and Christians have been involved in protest action across South Africa. We have reports on some of the protest action — in PE and Cape Town
“We will not stand and watch the poor being neglected,” said Apostle Neville Goldman, addressing more than a thousand people at a Port Elizabeth rally to protest against President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday April 4.
The crowd, which included a significant number of Christians who had heeded calls from local church leaders to stand up and be counted and attend the rally, responded enthusiastically as Apostle Neville Goldman called on the Moses’s of our time to confront Pharaoh and fight for the rights of the poor and needy who were most affected by the economic damage following Zuma’s controversial cabinet reshuffle.
SaveSA which called the gathering, which was also addressed by SaveSA leader Sipho Pityana, expects thousands of people to turn up in front of the city hall again today (Friday April 7) a day in which anti-Zuma marches are planned around South Africa and a number of organisations have indicated they will be shutting down.
Goldman began his talk at Tuesday’s rally by saying: “This day for many of us as South Africans is a sad day.” He went on to describe how he experienced the apartheid regime as a child and up to the age of 39, and later experienced the joy of the miracle in 1994 when all South Africans could vote for the government of their choice.
He then quoted from Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear? Even cry out to you, “Violence!” And you will not save. Why do you show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.”
He said that we have once again witnessed the ill effect of decisions made by our president — when the rating agencies of the world such as Standard and Poor downgraded our beloved country to junk status that makes it more expensive for SA to obtain credit and raises the risk that it might not be able to pay its debts.
Goldman spoke of the effects the credit rating downgrade will have on the poor as the value of the rand continues to slide. He also expressed concern about a number of issues including the incompetence of cabinet ministers with regards to social grants, and our failing educational system. He called on leaders to rise up for righteousness sake.
Turning to the issue of race he said: “When you are still classified as white, black, coloured, Indian in the country of your birth it is a concern that must be addressed. Mr President, when you leave the country from Oliver Tambo Airport, your presidential introduction in other countries of the world is: ‘We welcome His excellency The President of South Africa.’
“Similarly we as citizens, when we leave Oliver Tambo for other parts of the World, we are introduced as South Africans but when we return to Oliver Tambo we go back to being coloured, Indian, white, black. We entrench our racial and ethnic lines just like the apartheid government has done. When will we be seen as South Africans?”
He then touched on education, the raising of the flag at schools and patriotism, and said that we do not have corrupt organisations but corrupt people.
“This is not the leadership the Oliver Tambos, the Robert Sobukwes, the Walter Sisulus, the Nelson Mandelas, the Ahmed Kathradas, the Raymond Mhlabas, the Goldreichs, the Goldbergs, the Govan Mbekis have given their lives for.”
He warned Zuma not to forget that it was not FW De Klerks who lifted the lid from the pot of apartheid but the pressure inside the pot — the masses that forced it open saying: “We as ordinary citizens have the power to determine the direction of our country.”
Goldman then warned that the church will join rallies that call for the president’s resignation because it will not stand and watch the poor being neglected. It will not be silent but will rise and pray and mobilise.
He called on the Moses’s of our time, who understand the call of God, who have heard the cries of His people and seen their misery, to go before Pharaoh. The Church has to take up her role, he said.
He ended by quoting When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan, — Proverbs 29:2 NKJV, saying: “God is always looking for someone who He can trust and send. If you are that man or woman that can bring change then tell yourself I am that man, I am that woman, we are that people!
Among the dignitaries up front and the crowd were many of our Church leaders such as the Anglican Bishop of Port Elizabeth, Bethlehem Nopece, the Rev Rory Spence of the Presbyterian Church and Rev Themba Mahuwa.
Other speakers included retired ANC MP Judy Chalmers who said that the present ANC was not the one she had been part of, and Sipho Pityana who spoke of the results of the downgrade to Junk status, of President Zuma being a traitor to his party and to the nation with his corruption. Pityana closed by assuring the ANC that the call was not for the fall of the party but the fall of Jacob Zuma and his cronies. He left the stage with the clarion call of, “A people united will never be defeated!”
Bishop Bethlehem Nopece closed with prayer and a fiery call to the people to call on God to bring down the corrupt.