Religious leaders call for united action against proposed ‘draconian’ health regulations

Image on the page of the DearSA platform where you can have your say on the health regulations the government wants to impose in place of the pandemic state of disaster regulations

Senior religious leaders agreed today that they need to unite to fight government plans to impose “draconian” new health regulations “that threaten the future of Christianity in South Africa”.

In a Zoom meeting hosted by Freedom of Religion South Africa, speaker after speaker agreed on the need for a two-pronged battle strategy: one that applies pressure on government through legal, governmental and media channels, and one that “speaks the only language the government understands” — mass confrontation including the possibility of “civil disobedience”.

The two-pronged plan was endorsed by leaders on the webinar chat screen, as were assertions by several speakers that conventional channels for protesting government overreach are not enough as they “have no regard whatsoever for the Church” and exploit its disunity to muzzle and weaken it.

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Pastor At Boshoff of the Christian Revival Church said: “The state of disaster [introduced two years ago at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic] is a walk in the park compared to this regulation that this government wants to pass now.

“That means they can do anything. They can shut any church down, any venue down, they can arrest any pastor, they can declare anything a pandemic — they have total power. The court can’t challenge them, parliament can’t challenge them. This is as serious as it gets and we have to wake people up to this in Jesus’ name.”

Earlier in the meeting FOR SA executive director Michael Swain said that South Africa is going in the opposite direction to most of the world which recognises that the Covid pandemic is effectively over and that the virus has become endemic.

FOR SA legal adviser Daniela Ellerbeck outlined the main concerns with the health regulations which the government plans to introduce in place of the state of disaster. These include unfettered power for the minister to declare pandemics and categorise diseases as notifiable, mandatory and compelled vaccination powers, unjustifiable permanent restrictions on religious gatherings, rules forcing larger churches to require congregants to show proof of vaccination in order to operate at 50% of venue capacity, and jail sentences of up to 10 years and unlimited fines for failing to comply with regulations.

DearSA platform
Ellerbeck also shared proposed amendments to the regulations, and a proposed pushback strategy involving encouraging as many people as possible to send submissions to the Department of Health via the DearSA platform (https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/health-act-amendment/) before the cut-off date of April 15.

The same strategy worked with opposing the PEPUDA bill and with a massive public response against the Health Act Amendment it could pressure the government to remove or amend problem clauses, she said.

Leaders supported For SA’s proposed amendments to the draft regulations. They also agreed that its proposed action strategy should be shared speedily with all congregations.

Pastor Don Phillips of RUCC suggested that civil disobedience be considered as an option — especially for grassroots congregations, where many people were unable or unlikely to make use of online legal channels for opposing the regulations. Other leaders supported his views.

Towards the end of the meeting Pastor At Pretorius made an impassioned plea to leaders to rise above personal issues and to unite to defend Christianity.

He called on all congregation leaders to address the issue in their assemblies this Sunday. “We need to get people to make submissions but then civil disobedience is the way to go,” he said.

Thembi Tulwana general secretary of the Inkululeko Yesiswe Association endorsed the call “to unite genuinely in order for us to attack this evil that is upon us” by using a multipronged approach “in order for government to hear us”.

She urged leaders to consider the matter seriously. “It may sound like we want to be rogues and go out in the street and do what is not Christian-like. But what are we saying about continuing with the work that God has asked us to do in this world?” she said.

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8 Comments

  1. Pfumelani shibambu

    I am against this amendment Bill, because us against our belief, God loves us all whether you vaccinated or not to him we are the same. Why government is forcing us to vaccinate? This is my body what happened to our rights? My body my choice. The government should not Interfere when it comes to the things of God, they have to leave us to worship God the way he want us to worship him we dont need vaccine certificate why do they want to cause division towards Christians? Since past two years we were doing okay without vaccine even now we are still doing okay,what is behind this vaccine? I have a rights to choose no one should force me to do what is against my will.

    • Pfumelani shibambu

      The government should not Interfere when it comes to the things of God. Tgey have to leave us to worship our God with peace,they should not Couse division towards Christians God love us all whether you are vaccinated or not to him we are the same. I won’t vaccine my body my choice what happened to our rights? I have the rights to choose and I don’t need vaccine in order for me to worship God

  2. Philiswa Ngxukuma

    I am against this ammendment Bill, it goes against my belief. I should be given a choice not to be forced to vaccine after all its my body. Why is the government desparate to get everyone vaccinated, what are they going to benefit?

    I choose God and I say no to vaccine.

  3. Suzette van Rooyen

    Let the Church arise and it’s enemies be scattered. Where there is unity, God commands His blessing.

  4. Dawn Glendining

    The people ought to be free to worship. Free to choose what they want put in their bodies Currently the government by introducing new rules is trying to shut the church down. I stand in disbelief that this would ever have happened here in SOUTH AFRICA. The government needs to stop and listen to the people. They want FREEDOM TO CHOOSE and FREEDOM TO SPEAK. I am against mandatory vaccines and control of my life.

  5. Stop the state of disaster in South Africa 🇿🇦

  6. I stand with the body of Christ I am against this amendment bill and believe God has set us free..

  7. Elizabeth Ann Vanniekerk

    i am totally against this amendment bill which takes away my freedom of choice.its my right to chose what I .decide to put into my body .What an invasion of my rights by the goverment ,, what a disgrace