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Source: The Presidency
Title: Zuma: Address to believers of African Independent
ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT ZUMA, TO THE FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS OF
THE AFRICAN INDEPENDENT CHURCHES, TEMBISA, KEMPTON PARK, 1 February
The Honourable Archbishops
I greet you all, in the name of our Lord and Creator.
It is not everyday that I stand before the Fellowship of Believers
of so many denominations and receive their blessings. I am indeed
very grateful and humbled by the invitation you have extended to me
I am delighted to be here for numerous reasons, chiefly because the
African Independent Churches have a long relationship with the
African majority of this country.
It also provides me with the chance to formally thank you for the
role you played in the struggle to liberate this country, and the
role that independent churches continue to play in fostering the
spirit of nation building and reconciliation.
Right from their inception, the African Independent Churches played
a crucial role in promoting a religious philosophy that was based
on sound African value systems. Many of the leaders of Independent
Churches have assumed leadership positions in society over the
From as early as 1919, key leaders from the African Independent
Churches such as Reverend Makgatho were preaching about equality
and the right to human dignity as reflected by his statement in
1919 when he said "We need no favours from government, we shall not
be treated like foreigners in our own country".
It is significant that most of our leadership in the early 20th
Century, were staunch believers, for example John Mafukuzela Dube,
the first President of the ANC from 1912 to 1919, and of course
Reverend Makgatho, the second ANC President, who was a founder of
one of the early African Independent Churches, the United National
We must also use the period of celebrating our 10th anniversary of
freedom, to thank other pioneers of African Independent Churches
such as Moses Mangena Mokone, founder of Ethiopian Church, Isaiah
Shembe, founder of the Church of Nazareth of Shembe Church, James
Dwane, founder of the Order of Ethiopia, Nehemiah Tile, founder of
the Thembu National Church and many others.
We can also not forget the Zion Christian Church in Moria and the
role it plays in the lives of millions of South Africans. In their
own way, these leaders and churches all made an important
contribution in terms of redefining what it means to be an African
and a Christian at the same time.
The philosophy of the African Independent Churches has always been
part of the African liberation philosophy. That is in the broader
sense the ideas of the African Independent Churches has been part
of the liberation weapons.
The African Independent Churches also experienced first hand what
it meant to be under the rule of White people in South Africa then.
You will recall when members of The Church of God and Saints of
Christ were mowed down by the forces of Smuts Government in what is
known as the Bulhoek Massacre of 1921.
Their leader, Enoch Mgijima, had to serve 5 years in prison, when
they refused to move from their land and the place of worship at
Ntabelanga near Queenstown. This is just one of many
I am giving you this background so that you know that this
government understands the often neglected and marginalised history
of the African Independent Churches, and that we understand the
role that it continues to play today as the churches with a mission
to heal, hence many African Independent Churches are known as the
healing churches. I say this also to pose a challenge to you as
current leaders of the African Independent Churches to look back at
the role that Independent Churches played during the struggle and
also celebrate that role as we celebrate the first 10 years of our
As the Patron of the Moral Regeneration Movement, I would be
failing in my duty if I do not mention the important and critical
role that the church plays in our society today, especially in
building a society that cares and is built on the foundations of
strong moral values.
The African Independent Churches provide a massive constituency,
through which we can all work together in building our nation,
whether one belongs to the Zion Christian Church or the Shembe
Church, we all belong to one country and have the same national
We all need to work together to strengthen our families and
communities and build a strong foundation for a caring society.
This is a society where there would be no crime, rape, child abuse,
women abuse, abuse of alcohol and drugs, no lack of respect for the
elderly and no break down of family life.
This, I believe, is an achievable goal, depending on how we make a
resolve, in very corner of our country, to confront our social ills
and work to reduce, and eventually eradicate them.
The church, as partners with government in the Moral Regeneration
Movement needs to continue to play a critical role in ensuring that
the moral values of ubuntu such as respect for human life, and
respect for each other are inculcated, especially among our
We also see a key role for the church to play in alleviating the
suffering caused by disease, especially AIDS. Across the country
every day, I still see the churches and religious people and
leaders alike taking care of the aged, nursing the sick, feeding
and clothing the poor and orphans especially HIV and AIDS orphans.
We greatly applaud, and appreciate these selfless efforts by the
church, for they inspire the nation to greater moral heights. This
is what moral regeneration is all about.
It is also important for the church to continue to play a role in
AIDS awareness and prevention campaigns.
As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our freedom we must look
back at the distances that we have travelled together in
eradicating all forms of discrimination, racism, sexism and the
legacy of apartheid.
South Africa was on the brink of collapse in all aspects and the
future looked bleak, when, through hard work and sacrifices, we
crossed over into a new era of democracy and peace.
The fact that we have a sound and stable democracy and the rule of
law, and that the right to human dignity was restored, provides
cause for all of us to celebrate, and not just government.
You would also be aware that millions of people now have access to
basic services that they did not have before. We say this not to
gloat, but because we realise that an extremely important aspect of
boosting the nation's Moral Regeneration campaign is that of
working jointly to improve the lives of our people and to eradicate
poverty, disease and suffering left by the legacy of
Let me reiterate that in the next decade of freedom, we need to
continue spreading the message that it is wrong to kill, rape or
maim. That domestic violence and child abuse cannot be allowed to
continue, and that we need to build strong foundations on which to
raise our children to become caring, loving adults who know the
difference between right and wrong. If we do so, we will be
producing responsible citizens for this country.
I know that we can rely on the African Independent Churches, to
help us take this campaign forward, given the strong cultural and
traditional values of ubuntu that churches espouse.
It is in this context that we have launched a campaign for the
drawing up of the moral charter, which must work out moral
principles and guidelines for our nation.
If we vigorously promote that ubuntu in all suburbs, townships and
villages, and isolate izinswelaboya (hooligans) who disrupt our
communities, we will be one step towards building a caring society,
and there would be less households whose occupants live in fear and
The church must pray for the elections that they are free and fair.
It must also pray for us as the politicians that we conduct
ourselves better. Politicians must learn to conduct their business
without insulting each other and throwing mud at each other. That
can be done if politicians in their campaigning avoid campaigning
about other parties. Most politicians when they go to the people
they start by saying, this party has not done this and that,
instead of what their parties stand for and what they can do for
There must be a separation of politics and church, I always tell
this to traditional leaders (those who can listen anyway) that the
institution of traditional leadership is above politics and is
neutral. When you start to interfere in politics as a traditional
leader you run the risk of losing respect of your subjects. For
instance when you give judgement, which is not favourable to
someone, that person may question your judgement and question
whether your judgement is not influenced by your political
affiliation. This is also relates to the church.
Brothers and sisters, thank you for inviting me to share this
service with you. We wish you all the best in continuing with the
work of the Lord.
We trust that we will continue working together to build a better
life for all in our country.