Political parties took issue with Zuma for reportedly telling a Presbyterian Synod in Giyani on Sunday that: “If you don’t respect those in leadership, if you don’t respect authority then you are bordering on a curse”.
He continued to say that God had made a connection between the Government and the church.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe yesterday reminded Zuma that people would not face “God’s wrath” for disrespecting leaders who disrespect God and his laws.
“It is wrong for the President always to use scare tactics when he is desperate for votes. We want to remind the President that he and his party are the ones who will face God’s wrath for promoting policies that undermine God’s word,” said Meshoe.
Five years ago, Zuma had said that the ANC would rule until Jesus comes back.
Meshoe said that by once again linking God to politics, all indications are that the “Titanic is sinking” and the rule of the ANC is coming to an end.
“They should know that people vote for the ANC out of respect for world icon Mr Nelson Mandela and not the current leadership.”
DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said Zuma’s “assault on democracy” was nothing new.
Zuma had in the past year launched “regular attacks” on the opposition and media for daring to question him or hold him to account for his “leadership failures”.
“Comments like these show once again that President Zuma sees himself more as king than as a servant of the people,” she said.
“If President Zuma wants to build himself a palace and be exempt from scrutiny then he has chosen the wrong vocation… President Zuma seems intent on stigmatising legitimate oversight over his government by calling those who disagree with him unpatriotic, disrespectful, and in this case, cursed.”
Political analyst Shadrack Gutto said Zuma, as Head of State, should not be making such commentary when “playing political games”.
“We are dealing with the Head of State. One expects a different approach or handling of challenges that affects him as a person.”
Zuma rushed to the churches whenever he was “in trouble”, added Gutto.
Further to that, the ANC and Zuma should realise that South Africa was filled with people who were free to believe in a religion or not. At the same time, the ANC had members who were Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian and non-believers, to name a few, he said.
These comments contradicted South African society.
“So what there are people who don’t care if Jesus comes or not.”
Dave Steward, executive director of the FW de Klerk Foundation said it was evident that Zuma had not been reading the Constitution which does not recognise any connection between the Government and the Church and guarantees the freedom of religion, belief and opinion.
“When political leaders deviate from their prepared speeches their remarks often provide a much clearer insight into their real views than the carefully vetted and anodyne texts written by their speechwriters,” said Steward.
Agang SA found Zuma’s comments “concerning”.
“… In a healthy democracy, constructive criticism from opposition parties is part of holding the governing party to account. In this regard the President should rather ask himself: why am I being criticised? Is it because the clouds of corruption hang around my head? Is it because of my efforts to bury the spy tapes and with them 700 charges of fraud? Or is it because the Guptagate trail seems to be leading to number one?,” asked Agang SA political director Moeketsi Mosola.
“People criticise the President because as the first citizen, he sets the example for our country and the message seems to be that he and his party will tolerate corruption and impunity.”