President values the relationship with religious sector

21 December 2011

Photo of: President Jacob Zuma

The Presidency is concerned about the misleading manner in which some products within the Avusa media group have reported remarks made by President Jacob Zuma about the impact of Christianity on indigenous knowledge systems in KwaMaphumulo yesterday.

Speaking at a road and crime safety awareness event at KwaMaphumulo in KwaZulu-Natal, President Zuma said that while we welcome the advent of Western culture, some useful traditional ways of doing things and aspects of African culture were undermined or even eroded, some of which were important for the cohesion of communities.

The President indicated amongst other things that Western culture had brought about the end of the extended family as an institution, leading to the need for government to establish old age homes, orphanages and other mechanisms to support the poor and vulnerable. He added that even poverty was an unknown factor as neighbours were always ready to assist each other, giving one another milk or cattle where needed.

This does not in any way imply a negation or rejection of Christianity. It is mischievous to draw such a conclusion.  The President was simply asserting African Culture as a way in which many people used to live harmoniously, and lamenting the neglect of African culture.  The message was that while we should embrace Western culture and Christianity, we should not neglect the African ways of doing things and that diversity should mean the recognition of all cultures.

The fact that South Africa celebrates Christmas and Good Friday are evidence that Christianity is embraced by the widest majority in the country.

In addition, the President and Government as a whole enjoy positive and fruitful working relationship with the faith-based sector as a whole. We owe some of the greatest achievements of government to the contribution of religious leaders. For example, the expansion of social grants to 15 million South Africans has been aided to a great extent by the assistance of religious leaders in identifying qualifying beneficiaries and even assisting them to obtain civic documents. The faith-based sector also plays a critical role in the provision of support and care to those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, in education and also the support of victims of crime and social disasters.

The President will be meeting with religious leaders in the New Year to discuss strengthening cooperation in various areas including social development, the fight against crime, health care, rural development and basic education.

This relationship has roots in the sterling contribution of the faith-based sector in the struggle for liberation and justice in the country, going back more than a century.

Government will continue working with the faith based sector to create a better life for all.

Enquiries: Mac Maharaj on 079 879 3203.

Issued by: The Presidency

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