Premier calls for unity as Shembe turns 100

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize has called for special celebrations and unity among members of the Nazareth Baptist Church.

The church will celebrate its 100th anniversary since it was founded by Prophet Isaiah Shembe in 1910.

The church's image has been dented by leadership disputes that have dogged the church, known as Shembe, for more than 30 years.

The disputes have led to the formation of four breakaway factions: Ekhuphakameni, Ebuhleni, Nginyezinye in KwaZulu-Natal and another in Gauteng.

All the factions are led by descendants of the late Isaiah Shembe.

Speaking at Ekuphakameni church headquarters in Inanda, north of Durban, at a service to pay tribute to its founder, Mkhize said it was important for the church to celebrate 100 years together.

He said the hosting of 2010 Fifa World Cup on African soil coincides with the church's 100th anniversary.

"We need celebrations to acknowledge the contribution the church has made to nation building," Mkhize said.