Originally published in Ecumenical News
The new leadership of the African National Congress should replace Jacob Zuma as national president as soon as possible, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has said in a Christmas message.
Speaking during his Christmas Eve sermon at the St George’s Cathedral, Makgoba said: “I cannot see how two centres of power — one centred on the party and the other on the State — can collaborate when their values seem diametrically opposed to one another.”
His words follow the election December 18 of Cyril Ramaphosa, the national vice-president as the new leader of the ANC.
The ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation movement has ruled South Africa since Nelson Mandela led it to victory in the country’s first universal suffrage election in 1994, but its critics says cronyism and corruption are grinding the economy to a halt and not helping the livelihoods of ordinary people.
Makgoba said the only way the ANC could “make a clean break with the past” is to get rid of Zuma and follow it up with a “carefully targeted cabinet reshuffle”.
“If Mr Ramaphosa wants the ANC to get a new lease of life, he and the new leadership will need to cut the umbilical cord which ties them to the Zuma era, quickly and decisively,” the archbishop said.
“Our economy is floundering, unemployment is rising and those cohorts of corruption who see they are losing influence are making ever more desperate attempts to loot what they can before their party is over,” he rued.
“On top of that, the divisions in the ANC have led to a paralysis in decision-making and the implementation of policy. It is time to say, ‘Enough is enough’.”
In the election for the ANC leadership Ramaphosa went head-to-head with former cabinet minister and African Union Chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Dlamini-Zuma received 2261 votes against Ramaphosa’s 2440.
She is the former wife of President Zuma and she was his chosen candidate to rule South Africa, running on a populist ticket.
“The crib, no matter how one looks at it, is always the place where Jesus takes on human misery.
“It is the place where the poor and marginalised find the possibility of hope that things might be different, that Emmanuel — ‘God-with-us’ — is located in a stable, outside the spaces of power, amidst the clothes of the poor,” said Makgoba in his sermon.
“Although this message of Christmas is never totally absent from our consciousness, so dangerous is it to the powerful and the comfortable that the Church often hides or stifles it.
“But Christmas is about breaking the yoke of oppression, allowing justice and peace to embrace us and enabling hope to shine in dark places, as the Advent readings have stubbornly reminded us,” said Makgoba.