28/06/2018 12:24 SAST | Updated 28/06/2018 15:30 SAST

Religion To The Rescue: Zuma And Religious Leaders' Romance Kicks Into High Gear

Not just the answer to the ANC's election woes, but also a crime buster – Zuma is a hero, according to certain religious leaders.

 Jacob Zuma greets South African religious leaders and a crowd of supporters before addressing them outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on April 6 2018.
MARCO LONGARI via Getty Images
Jacob Zuma greets South African religious leaders and a crowd of supporters before addressing them outside the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on April 6 2018.

On Tuesday, religious leaders in KwaZulu-Natal once again came out to bat for Jacob Zuma, awarding him what amounts to a travelling road show in which he will ironically be the face of an anti-crime campaign.

It is not the first time these leaders have jumped to Zuma's aid, lauding him as the solution to many of the country's ills.

From the ANC's election prospects, to being a champion of the poor and free education, and now, a crime-busting "Indian whisperer", religion is fast becoming Zuma's biggest champion.

On May 31, a group of religious leaders calling themselves the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (Nicsa) called on the ANC to use Zuma during its 2019 election campaign, if it wanted to win a two-thirds majority.

According to TimesLive, Nicsa's provincial secretary in KZN, Bishop Timothy Ngcobo, said this during a prayer ceremony held to welcome Zuma back home at Nkandla, following his ousting in February from the Union Buildings.

Ngcobo reportedly said there was no truth in the rumours that Zuma's supporters wanted to form a political party, but said the merely wanted to tell the ANC that if the party wanted a two-thirds majority, it needed to "start with Msholozi".

Ahead of Zuma's high court appearance on corruption charges on April 4, Nicsa led a press briefing calling for South Africans to support Zuma, News24 reported.

Nicsa was reportedly joined by the the Commission for Religious Affairs (CRA), Delangokubona Business Forum, the National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa (NafupaSA) and Black First Land First (BLF).

Ngcobo reportedly said there were many unanswered questions about why Zuma was being "targeted".

"It is a matter of concern that for all these years Zuma has been subjected to what appears to be a well-calculated campaign to isolate him. We have many unanswered questions. Could it be that Zuma is targeted because he has always been on the side of the poor? Could it be that Zuma is targeted because he preferred free education for the poor? The question that we ask as church leaders is: 'Why is it that political parties and pressure groups opposed to these policies which former president Zuma championed on behalf of the ANC have been the ones calling for his arrest?" he asked.

Ahead of Zuma's court appearance in early June, religious leaders once again came out in support, claiming the charges were politically motivated, according to the SABC.

On Tuesday, Nicsa appeared again, reportedly announcing Zuma had been selected to lead a prayer campaign "against crime as an enemy of the economy" and help to improve race relations between black and Indian people in KZN, according to News24.

The campaign will reportedly involve leaders from a variety of religions, including Rastafarianism, Hinduism, Shembe and Khoisan faith practices. It is expected to start on July 7 in KZN communities in Chatsworth, Isipingo, Umlazi and Wentworth. The following week the tour will move to other areas in the province.

News24 reported that on a poster distributed in the province, Nicsa has called for a "road show for nation-building prayer against crime, and crime as an enemy of the economy".

Ngcobo intimated that Zuma could help to rebuild trust in the Indian community, which he said was like an "island".