Religious leaders' role in politics questioned

Over the last week, there have been a series of political interventions by different religous leaders.

FILE: Archbishop Makgoba and Desmond Tutu carry a rose for Public Protector Thuli Madonsela which symbolises their support for her and her work on 28 March 2014. Picture: Chanel September/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Questions are now being asked around whether religious leaders will continue to stay involved in politics after what appears to be a series of political interventions from leaders of different faiths.

Over the last week, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba led a march against Nkandla, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has told people to vote carefully and the Zion Christian Church has appeared to say people shouldn't vote for embezzlers.

All of these public comments by religious leaders appear to be sparked by the scandal over government spending on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

Political Analyst Professor Somadoda Fikeni says preachers themselves are feeling the pressure to speak out.

"There is a pressure on religious leaders on what is perceived as a moral crisis in the country in terms of corruption, inequality and poverty that they should not stay clear of politics.

But most leaders have stepped back from telling people not to vote for the ANC but they could keep up the pressure if the Nkandla issue continues to burn.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and her team recently investigated how nearly R250 million was spent on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private KwaZulu-Natal home.

She found he unduly benefitted from the upgrades to his Nkandla property and called on him to account to Parliament.

Madonsela also ordered Zuma pay back a portion of the money spent on non-security upgrades.