Ordination divides leader s

Mhlaba Memela and Waghied Misbach

Mhlaba Memela and Waghied Misbach

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma once complained that the media and his detractors wanted to crucify him. Little did Msholozi know then that the prospect of walking in the footsteps of Christ would be upon him in his lifetime.

Yesterday, leaders of a Durban church that had ordained Zuma as an honorary pastor at the weekend said their church had given Zuma the "authority to carry out the mandate of Jesus Christ".

The Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, president of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said his party was shocked by the decision to "ordain" Zuma as a pastor.

He said that in addressing the problem of moral degeneration, the nation had to agree on what was and was not acceptable, especially when church leaders were committing adultery

But Vusi Khoza, pastor of the Full Gospel Community Church which had ordained Zuma, warned the ACDP to "stop playing God".

Khoza said Zuma deserved more than the church had offered him.

" He has been preaching peace in this province and the country. He walks among the poor," Khoza said.

Baadih Chaaban, chief whip of the African Muslim Party and a Cape Town city councillor, said he had no problem with Zuma being ordained by the church.

His only concern, Chaaban said, was that it was "really bad" that Zuma had had sex with an HIV-positive woman.

"But people should also look at the positive, that Zuma spent a number of years in jail and made a positive contribution to the liberation of the country. Everyone makes mistakes," he said.

Chaaban also felt that Zuma was not guilty of any crime in taking money from Schabir Shaik. He said he was of Arab descent and that Arabs also gave gifts to revered people.

"When people visit elders, people would take them gifts of a goat or something else," he said.

But KwaZulu- Natal political analyst, Protas Mdlala described the church's decision as "a joke".

"I have never heard such a thing in my life, even in the history of Christianity. This decision is a publicity stunt," he said.

He said that in most churches people studied for years to become a priest.

Colleen Lowe Morna, director of the gender rights group Genderlinks, said the church "needed to understand" that Zuma had "lost the moral high ground".