Zuma was in Soweto in the build-up to the celebration of the party’s 105th birthday. Zuma and top NEC members have been touring various ANC wards around the province in a bid to gather momentum for tomorrow’s event.
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Drawing parallels between the story of Jesus and the birth of the party as a movement in 1912, Zuma explained to supporters why the ANC’s birthday must be revered and celebrated like the birth of Christ.
He also briefly compared the anticipated gathering with that of Muslims who make their pilgrimage to Mecca in the Middle East, before he reverted back to his Biblical narrative. In Zulu he said:
“It is just like how we mustn’t forget Christmas, because these things are the same. The birth of Jesus, who came to free people of sin, is like the birth of the ANC, who freed the people from oppression.”
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His statement comes after he was blasted last year by church organisations for asking religious leaders to stay out of politics. On Christmas Day last year, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba told a congregation that the Anglican Church would ignore Zuma’s call for clergy to stay out of politics.
The archbishop also raised the question of whether religious communities in South Africa should withdraw their moral support for the government. The famous Soweto street was abuzz with hundreds of supporters, ANC big-wigs, celebrities and tourists at the kick-off of the party’s birthday celebrations – complete with a birthday cake and live music.
ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize said the spending and fanfare would bring back lost morale in the party.