Leave good churches alone, says new party headed by KZN bishop

The African Freedom Revolution (AFR) – a new political party based in KwaZulu-Natal - officially launched on Friday and is another party started by pro-Jacob Zuma supporter ahead of the national elections in May.

Headed by well-known Zuma supporter, Bishop TB Ngcobo, the party held a small press conference at the Blue Lagoon Conference Centre in Durban.

While covering a wide range of issues his party pledged to uphold, Ngcobo sent out one clear message: Hands off churches.

He said the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) had to stop interfering with churches.

"Churches are being suppressed by the CRL commission. They must stop harassing the churches. The church must not be regulated by [the] CRL, but assisted with workshops and other things that empower churches."

His party understood that churches existed long before governments did, he said.

"Before the government, there was still church. We formed with no government assistance. They fail to understand the projects from within the church help millions every year."

The church fixes troubled people

Ngcobo said that the church often found troubled people and reformed them.

"We take those people doing wrong things and restore their human values."

He said pastors doing wrong should indeed be dealt with.

"We are saying yes, we must stop these people. The Omotosos and others must stop what they are doing. But let us leave the normal good churches alone."

Ngcobo also said authorities should rather regulate foreign religious leaders.

"Some of these foreign people come here and start churches. Yet, in their own country, they were something else. We must vet them."

Ngcobo's party announcement was the second political move linked to a Zuma supporter this week. Former government spokesperson and the one-time owner of the defunct ANN7 news channel Mzwanele Manyi joined the African Transformation Movement (ATM) on Wednesday.

He was apparently dismissed from the All Africa Decolonisation Congress (AADC) party he formed in December.

He started the AADC but moved on to the ATM after members of the party accused him of trying to use churches that support the party to launder money and discussing party funding with the controversial Gupta family.

ATM is known as a pro-Zuma party, with some of its leaders having been spotted often alongside the former president in the past. Bishop John Bolana, the leader of a church linked to the ATM, is also a close friend of Zuma.

Last year also saw Andile Mngxitama's Black First Land First announcing that it would contest the 2019 general elections while former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng launched his own political party, the African Content Movement in December.

Another seemingly pro-Zuma grouping, the Mazibuye African Congress (MAC), has also expressed its intention to woo South African voters.