afrol News, 7 February - A wide range of South Africa's political landscape is voicing outrage over President Jacob Zuma after he threatened non-ANC voters with ending up in hell. Also the Church protests that only ANC members will come to heaven.
"When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven," President Zuma yesterday told South African voters. "When you don't vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork ... who cooks people."
The President went on: "When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven […] When [Jesus] fetches us we will find [them] wearing black, green and gold, the holy ones belong to the ANC."
The statements, made at a rally in Mthatha, were brought on to the wider South African audience by the national press the next morning. They immediately caused outrage in a country where the political dialogue had been more down to earth until now.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa's major opposition party, was the first to react. DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko immediately called for an apology from President Zuma. South Africans would "find the President's comments offensive and unacceptable. His words are incendiary and dangerous, in that they seek to mobilise along religious lines, and sow seeds of division in our communities," Ms Mazibuko said.
"Indeed, this is an act of shameless political and religious blackmail - the sort of political skulduggery that may be the norm in autocracies, but that should be anathema to our constitutional democracy," the DA spokeswoman added.
"I find these comments utterly distasteful, disgraceful and unacceptable," added Zulu opposition leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi today. The statements were yet "another clear indication that the ANC is not willing to play by the rules as we approach the 2011 elections," Mr Buthelezi added, also demanding an apology from President Zuma.
Mr Zuma's hell threats not only caused outrage within the political opposition. Also the proper authorities regarding assessments over heaven and hell, the South African Council of Churches (SACC), found the President's interpretation of God will "problematic".
According to the Church Council, President Zuma's speech represented a "worrying" language ahead of South Africa's municipal election, to be held in a few months. It also called the statement "blasphemous". The Council has called for a meeting with the President to discuss the statement.
Only the ruling ANC party defended the President's statements. ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the heaven and hell references in Mr Zuma's speech had merely been "figurative and metaphoric." He therefore said the party agreed with President Zuma "that not voting for the ANC is tantamount to throwing your vote in... hell."
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