Zuma preaches forgiveness, reconciliation
Recent events have shown that South Africa’s democratic institutions can check abuses of power, ANC president Jacob Zuma said in Johannesburg on Sunday.
This followed a week in which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was accused by some of abusing its power in dropping fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.
“We have built democratic institutions that serve the interests and safeguard the rights of all South Africans,” Zuma told congregants celebrating Easter at the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Zuurbekom on the West Rand.
“Recent events have shown the capacity of these institutions to effectively perform their constitutional mandate, even in the face of heated political and legal disputes,” he said.
“Where there have been abuses of power, these institutions have been able to act as a check on such abuses and to correct the problems. We are proud of our institutions and we should all work to support them, as they are our bulwarks against the abuse of power and of our rights as citizens,” Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery at the event.
On Monday the NPA withdrew corruption charges against Zuma saying the decision was based on flaws in the prosecution’s own process. The merits of Zuma’s case were not taken into consideration.
However, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, criticised the NPA’s decision.
“It violated the Constitution, it violated the law and it violated the NDPP’s [National Director of Public Prosecutions] own policy.
“It is an irrational decision, it is an unlawful decision and the reasons given do not hold water because they do not address the question of the merits of the case against Jacob Zuma,” she said.
Congress of the People spokesperson Phillip Dexter called the NPA’s decision “spineless”.
On Sunday, Zuma also reminded congregants that South Africa was founded on “reconciliation and forgiveness in 1994”.
“We decided that it would not create a stable, prosperous new nation to seek retribution for the systematic killings of our people in the townships, villages and in exile, or for the long-term imprisonments and the brutal execution of our cadres in the gallows in Pretoria from Vuyisile Mini to Solomon Mahlangu.
“Nation-building, unity and reconciliation will continue to be the cornerstone of the new administration after elections,” he said.
Zuma called on South Africans “to build a united compassionate and caring nation”.
He also called for forgiveness.
“Hate is an intense and all-consuming emotion. It takes over your whole being as you plot against your perceived enemy. On the other hand, love and forgiveness are liberating emotions,” he said.
Zuma told churchgoers his visit was neither by mistake or because their was an election. “This is what we do on a regular basis,” he said.
He asked them not for not just their prayers, but their criticism.
“Indeed, you are not just reading the Bible selectively, you are reading all of it,” he said.
Church spokesperson Oupa Mosalakae said church had had a relationship with the ANC since the release of former president Nelson Mandela and “historically we are comfortable with the leadership of the ANC”.
It was consulting with the government on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Asked whether the government was listening, he said: “absolutely”. He refused to say whether it would be “ungodly” for the government to ignore the church on these issues. - Sapa