Jacob Zuma on Sunday speculated about the "coincidence" that saw him and President Cyril Ramaphosa attend Easter services at the same church in Esikhaleni in northern KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend.
"It was surprising that even though we know each other really well, having served in the same political organisation, we didn't agree that we were both going to this church this weekend," said Zuma during an address at the Covenant Fellowship Church International.
Ramaphosa had attended the church's Good Friday service.
During his visit on Sunday, Zuma surmised that Ramaphosa "just had this gut feeling that he must come here on his own accord".
On the other hand, Zuma affirmed that the church was in his home province and explained that the pastor and he were "practically neighbours".
As such, it seemed "then it was a coincidence".
"If there were prophets they would ask about both of us coming here; they would question why we both came on these significant days without knowing."
"What does that mean?," he mused.
"Maybe it's something that shows a good example, because I heard the president saying he wants unity among people."
During his speech, Zuma described Ramaphosa, as a young man [insizwa] who "had recently been elected as the president of the country".
He described himself as someone who "used to be the president and I'm no longer the president".
"We learnt that when we come to church, we are only here to serve God. In order to lead, you need to learn from your predecessor – those who have walked the path. For you to be able to lead the children of God properly, you need to go and consult with servants of God who are protecting us here on earth – so you can get guidance and advice, so that you can know where you are going."
Zuma, who constantly clasped his hands together while speaking, also asked congregants to pray for politicians.
"I'm asking you to pray for us. Firstly pray that we go to the elections with respect; let's not antagonise one another. We must respect each other even though we don't agree on issues," said the former president.
"We must disagree with each other with respect," he added, before urging that: "You must ask God to quell the tensions."
He said his request came about since "Christians were given an instruction by God that they must pray for those that are in leadership in government".
As politicians got ready for the elections in 2019, he said it sometimes came across as if "we are preparing for a war..."
"Instead of telling people why they must vote for us, we criticise opposition parties... to the extent that it gets heated and people then begin to think it is really war – especially since our democracy is still quite new."
Zuma made a number of statements that seemed veiled allusions to various political developments.
"We must know that when somebody has been appointed to government, they are not elected for that party but for the interest of the nation. Whoever is elected, we must understand that they were the favourites."
"Please pray for us," he reiterated.
"Pray that there are no lives lost. Whoever wins we must congratulate them; if we don't win we must accept."
"These prayers must be taken seriously because I can see it has already begun," he commented.
During Ramaphosa's address on Friday, he called for "unity and renewal" within the ANC.