KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize yesterday paid tribute to church leaders for their role in fighting oppression and all forms of injustice.
Mkhize was speaking at the 45th anniversary celebration of the Uniting Presbyterian Church at Edendale Lay Centre in Pietermaritzburg.
The church is the result of a merger between the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.
Mkhize said the church had a long history of entrenching the message of democracy and equality by teaching that all people were created in the image of God.
"When people talk about democracy, a lot of people think that this is politicking, when in fact this message started right here in the church."
He said the church played a vital role in bringing about a change in lifestyle and respect for human life and dignity.
"There's still a long road to be traveled in the fight against hunger and poverty. A lot of people are looking only at government for assistance, when in fact you can also help your neighbour who is in need."
The government's "One Home One Garden" campaign has been extended to "One Church One Garden" in an effort to boost the fight against poverty, he said.
Mkhize also called on the religious community to get involved in programmes to provide quality education to ensure that the province's good pass rate does not get compromised.
"Even in this fight against crime, the role that you have to play is big, because the laws of the land cannot begin to change the hearts in the way that the church can," Mkize said.