Website will invite ANC supporters to link their vote to Zuma’s removal
Despite the modest turnout at anti-Zuma events around the country on Freedom Day yesterday, Rev Moss Ntlha said he has faith that the campaign to remove the president will grow and that “Zuma will go”.
Ntlha, who is General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa and one of the leaders of a joint civil society-church campaign to oust President Jacob Zuma over state corruption and disregard for the Constitution, said in an interview that despite the low-key start to the anti-Zuma mass action campaign, and the ANC’s contempt for calls to remove the president “in my heart I have that Bible verse about faith the size of a grain of mustard seed” that is enough to move mountains.
“I believe that as we maintain the campaign the faith of group members will be refreshed and Zuma will go,” he said.
Rise South Africa campaign
He said that the ANC’s dismissive response to calls for the removal of the president was to be expected. But he said their attitude would change if they became convinced that holding on to Zuma would damage their chances in the forthcoming local government elections — which is one of the objectives of an Internet campaign called Rise South Africa which is in the process of being launched. ANC supporters will be urged to visit the website www.risesouthafrica.org which is under construction to link their vote for the party to the removal of the president.
Ntlha was one of the speakers at the event in Johannesburg yesterday, which was attended by about 300 people. He said the gathering from 11am to 1pm on Beyers Naude Sqaure was billed as a festival and included music, poetry, theatre and a celebration of freedom as well as a focus on “what happens when a president attacks the core of freedom which is the Constitution which protects our liberty”. At 1pm the crowd made a loud noise with vuvuzelas, whistles and banging on pots to register their protest. A call had gone out to people around the country to join the campaign by making a loud noise in their neighbourhoods at the same time.
In Cape Town, about 1 000 people marched to Parliament to call on Zuma to resign over the rise in corruption and the recent constitutional crisis, reports Miles Giljam of Sacli, who participated in the march. Organised by the group Zuma Must Fall as part of a wider citizens coalition that emerged from the People’s Assemblies held in Soweto and Langa on April 16, the march was joined by large numbers of Christians under the banner of a Prophetic March to enable the voice of the church to be heard.
A vibrant church band led the singing and chanting as the people sang for freedom and declared they would fight for what is right.
Banners of “Zuma must fall”were interspersed with “All things rise and fall on leadership” and “When Jesus says yes no one can say no”.
Singing and dancing the crowd made their way to parliament, led by a group of Church and civil leaders, but dominated by a vibrant energetic group of teenagers — many of them clad in t-shirts from Breakthru Church in Mitchell’s Plain.
Struggle songs about freedom were interspersed with occasional praise songs about freedom in Christ.
At Parliament, after a moment of silent prayer, the crowd was addressed by a number of speakers including the Chair of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, the Rev Richard Verryne. He spoke about the importance of following up on the march by rolling out a plan to put people at the centre of our politics and economy. He called for a day of action where citizens would “use Freedom Day to reclaim the freedom that was stolen by the leaders of our nation”.
Speeches by Anglican Minister the Rev Alan Smith, Christian activist Gloria Oliver, Brutus Malada from the Midrand group, Joyce Malemo of NGO R2K, and Zuma Must Fall’s Christelle Scheepers were complimented by a moment of commitment led by Rev Barry Isaacs of the Consultation of Christian Churches.
The crowd were given green ribbons to symbolise the mantle of authority being passed on by the generation of our elders and Isaacs challenged the people to put on the mantle as a sign of our commitment to personally lead in the process of taking back power for the people of South Africa. He told the crowd to pray for Zuma, saying: “Ons sal bid hom reg of bid hom weg!” Concluding, he said that by picking up our mantles and leading, the Church could take back the city for God and the people. The crowd were asked to keep the ribbons as a sign of that commitment.
The crowd was informed about the imminent launch of the website www.risesouthafrica.org where people are asked to commit to taking personal responsibility for democracy in the nation. Everybody is invited to register their commitments on the website and in cities and towns where enough people register civil society leaders will organise training to empower citizens to engage the system for truth and justice.
Letter to president
Last week the Consultation of Christian Churches, which represents 43 movements and denominations in the Western Cape, sent the president a letter in which they list ways in which they believe he has contributed to a constitutional, moral and leadership crisis in the country. In a spirit of seeking his restoration they urge him to “do the honourable thing and step down from the presidency” and thereafter to seek “counsel and rehabilitation in the ways of ethical leadership of a nation”. The full letter to the president can be read here. The Consultation has requested a meeting with Zuma and senior ANC leaders.
Commenting on the participation of Church leaders and members in yesterday’s ‘Zuma Must Go’ events, Rev Ntlha said that a lot of Christians say to him they are happy that the Church is making its voice heard. However he said he feels that many Christians are not yet on board, as reflected at the low turnout at the events.
“I don’t blame the churches [for the low turnout at the events]. We have not yet mastered effective mobilisation. What I am really saying is: can we retool our organisational capabilities to effect social change?”