Outspoken Anglican Reverend Barney Pityana issued a stern warning to President Jacob Zuma yesterday to not make an enemy out of the church.
Pityana’s comments came in response to a speech Zuma made at an event held at the Twelve Apostles in Christ church in Durban yesterday. During his speech Zuma condemned church leaders who spoke out against him and the ANC, and also the media.
“Has he not made enough enemies as it is?” Pityana quipped. The outspoken religious leader told The Citizen that Zuma’s remarks were regrettable, because he could have approached the South African Council of Churches himself, instead of speaking out against them.
“I would have thought he has made enough enemies. He should not be making enemies with the church,” Pityana said about Zuma.
Speakers at the event were vocal in their defence of the beleaguered president, with Chief Apostle Caesar Nongqunga calling the recent squabbles and disruptions in parliament a “sin”. Zuma’s speech was peppered with jabs at his detractors, often echoing the chief apostle’s sentiments.
“It is not good that we see church leaders being the ones making statements getting involved in politics,” Zuma said. “Instead of bringing communities together, they are creating more problems in politics. What we ask of them is that they pray for the people who are tired and angry; as the chief apostle said: ‘The Gospel must be preached to calm the people’,” he said.
Pityana hit back, saying that politics were the business of the church.
“He personifies everything that is contrary to what churches stand for in his moral life, his ethical life and in his corrupt dealings, and in every respect. The churches have reason to speak against him.”