In a twist of events, former President Jacob Zuma has been unveiled as a contestant for the 2024 elections under the banner of Umkhonto we Siswe (MK).
Zuma’s presidential campaign was announced by the All Alliance African Movement (AAAM), a coalition of pastors aiming to impact South Africa’s political scene.
AAAM secretary-general Bishop Meshack Tebe revealed during a fiery press briefing held at the 76 June 16 Memorial in Soweto, near Johannesburg, Gauteng, on Friday, January 5, 2024.
Founded by Zuma late last year, the MK Party is seen as one of the main threats to the governing ANC’s 30-year rule of South Africa, which began with the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Tebe directly criticised the country’s leadership under President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying the country had lost its moral compass on his watch.
“The All African Alliance Movement met two years ago after we discovered that the country was taking a different direction. Different religious formations in the country, particularly in Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, made a call to say, ‘What are you saying, pastors, when things are getting out of hand like this?’ And that call was confirmed and a mandate was given: ‘It is time that the church stands up.’
“The church must have a voice in also redirecting the country. What was important in the discussions was also the formation of AAAM, which is not an opposition to any other formation of a religious grouping that is existing. It is a formation that is aimed at correcting the direction of the country. The AAAM has a right to stand in the gap or close the gap. What was important was that AAAM cannot be the leader or become the faces of the masses, but it will be a vessel to connect with and adopt the masses that will make the decision. As a result of that, AAAM is not about positions. It is about changing the course of the direction if the navigator is going in the wrong direction,” said Tebe.
Tebe said the church, with the support of traditional leaders, was instrumental in bringing about a social movement against colonization and apartheid.
He said it was heartbreaking to witness the same liberators turn out to be the oppressors of the people of South Africa.
“We felt that our request and demand to any person who comes in the form of a government will not be sufficient if we don’t deal with the issue of land and ownership of land. We must be able to address, as religious people, the issue of land. The sad part came during the time of COVID-19, when hope was removed from the people, where they would go on Sundays and say, ‘Pastor, I have no bread in the house,’ but pastors were also stuck during that time. There was no answer from the government. Up to date, we have not gotten the answer to what happened with COVID-19 and its funding in particular. The problem with the pastors is that they normally grace events, and they get happy to share a plate with the MEC and take a photo.
“Our kings have no word today. Our queens are on a lost planet. They are not able to make decisions because Western colonization is taking away their power and drifting in the wrong direction. That is where pastors need to stand up and say, ‘Not our kings and queens.’ When they begin to see that you are now becoming the voice of the voiceless, they send particular structures of the state to begin to attack you from time to time. You will see that the arms of the state are not communicating in the same language. The saddest thing is that there are powers that have been taken away from religious people,” he said.
Tebe added that it was dangerous for the current government administration to ignore the voices of religious leaders.
“The religious people are performing the functions of the government, such as counselling in the churches and the food distribution happens in the churches, but when they are stifled by the government, the church becomes useless and becomes voiceless. We need a government that will be able to listen to the church and have the heart of the church in itself. Any government that undermines the religion that it exists in is subject to doom. The current administration that is sitting in charge of the country, led by the president of the Republic of South Africa, is not aware of the risk that it wants to put this country into. If they were wise, if their intelligence is sufficient, they could have learned during the July Unrest that South Africa is sitting on a timebomb.
“They are creating this with the influence of the Western countries so that we get confused amongst ourselves, we hate each other, and we don’t tolerate each other so that one day when we wake up, South Africa does not belong to us, it belongs to them and the wealth and the minerals of the country are taken over by them. It is not going to happen when the pastors are there. We are the watchdogs of the government. AAAM has a simple philosophy. We are not for socialism, liberalism, or communism. Our philosophy is people-centric. We want to call on all our leaders, the young, the unemployed, the students, the trade unions, the people living with disabilities, the civic movements, and those working in public service; we call on everyone to come and join forces with us and vote together for Umkhonto weSizwe,” he said.
“To the pastors in the churches, open your doors for us to come and campaign in your churches. Do not be afraid. Do not fear, for the Lord God is with you all of the time. We have what we call the super mega-churches, which have membership that ranges from 5 million to 21 million in South Africa. It is achievable to get two-thirds majority if we do our work. Then we have megachurches, which have memberships ranging from 500 000 to 7 million in their churches in total. We can achieve a two-thirds majority. As the AAAM, we endorse that all South Africans should vote for Umkhonto we Sizwe.”
Before concluding his speech, the bishop said the press conference was about AAAM revealing the face of the MK candidate for the 2024 elections.
“To the churches, I want to bring it in the open to you, to say that historically, there has been no president who has proven to belong to the people more than uBaba Umsholozi. I want to make a call that is very clear to all South Africans, that AAAM endorses uBaba G.J. Zuma as president in the coming elections of 2024. We know the journey that we have travelled. We are not confused as pastors. We know exactly what we want to achieve,” said Tebe.
When Zuma gave his remarks, he said he was happy with Tebe’s announcement.
“I’m grateful that religious and traditional leaders have decided to work together. It is important for pastors, specifically, to stand up right now. If black people fail to do what is necessary now, our great-grandchildren will suffer. Let us stand for the truth. Let us speak the truth. Our goal is not to chase away a certain race. It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard our land and its wealth.
“It cannot be that someone in a foreign land gets to say our land is their inheritance. Let’s stop playing. Let there be justice in our land. May the pastors pray and tell God that we are suffering. Tell Jesus, too, that we need our land back so that suffering ends in South Africa. As the secretary-general of AAAM said, we need to win by two-thirds majority so that we change the laws and make South Africa free,” said Zuma.