Address by ANC President Jacob Zuma to the Easter Sunday Service of the International Pentecost Church Zuurbekom, West Rand, Johannesburg, April 12 2009
The Comforter, Father Modise and the entire congregation,
Leadership of the ANC,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Kgotso bana ba Ntate! Kgotso bana ba Ntate!
Thank you for inviting us to share this very special Easter Sunday service with you.
It is a special and very sacred weekend for thousands of believers in our country. I feel extra privileged and blessed to be invited on my birthday to share this occasion with you.
In our country the Easter weekend is a solemn period as our people mark the weekend in various forms.
It is the commemoration of the Passover for our Jewish compatriots, the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for the Christians and the Ratha-Yatra or Festival or Chariots by our Indian brothers and sisters to name a few.
This weekend allows us to showcase our Constitution and the diversity it promotes.
The Constitution states that government may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on grounds including race, gender, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
Our Constitution also declares that everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.
We are indeed a very free society and free country, thanks to the struggles of our people over decades.
Fellow congregants, our new nation was founded on reconciliation and forgiveness in 1994. We decided that dwelling on the horrors of the past would not build this country.
We decided that it would not create a stable, prosperous new nation to seek retribution for the systematic killings of our people in the townships, villages and in exile, or for the long-term imprisonments and the brutal execution of our cadres in the gallows in Pretoria from Vuyisile Mini to Solomon Mahlangu.
Nation building, unity and reconciliation will continue to be the cornerstone of the new administration after elections.
All South Africans must feel they are an important part of our country, because they all have a role to build our country. We have to build a united compassionate and caring nation. As people of God, we must be ruled by love and forgiveness, as well as unity and mutual respect.
On this Easter Sunday, we draw inspiration from Matthew 18, Verses 21-22, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times''.
We are also guided by Romans Chapter 12, Verse 9, which says: "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other''.
Hate is an intense and all-consuming emotion. It takes over your whole being as you plot against your perceived enemy.
On the other hand, love and forgiveness are liberating emotions.
If we allow these positive emotions to govern our lives, and work in unity, the load will be lighter, and we will be able to build a caring society and a prosperous nation.
In 15 years, we have shown what can be done when people come together in a common effort, when we promote unity in action.
We have made significant progress in tackling the apartheid legacy, building our economy and sustaining economic growth.
While carefully managing public finances, we have invested significant resources into tackling poverty, meeting people's basic needs, and expanding access to education and health care.
We have built democratic institutions that serve the interests and safeguard the rights of all South Africans.
Recent events have shown the capacity of these institutions to effectively perform their Constitutional mandate, even in the face of heated political and legal disputes. Where there have been abuses of power, these institutions have been able to act as a check on such abuses and to correct the problems.
We are proud of our institutions and we should all work to support them, as they are our bulwarks against the abuse of power and of our rights as citizens.
We humbly submit, fellow congregants, that the ANC remains the only party that is able to mobilise a broad cross-section of society in the reconstruction and development of South Africa. We will continue to work with every sector and every group in society.
Fellow congregants, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the couples who will be joined in holy matrimony today. The institution of the family is the rock upon which nations are founded.
May God bless the unions and provide you with the love and strength to build strong families out of which we will strengthen our communities and our nation.
We are aware that we need to strengthen the family as an institution.
Families will be under pressure due to challenges such as the looming job losses arising from the global economic meltdown.
Our families are also under pressure due to societal ills such as alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence as well as crime that affects our society.
We will have to prioritise programmes that will strengthen families and empower them to deal with such societal ills. We must also work with communities to eradicate the scourge of crime so that families can live in peace and harmony.
My message to the couples comes from the Corinthians, Chapter 13, Verses 4-7, which says:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres''.
Let us build happy, stable families and communities and a united, prosperous nation.
Working together we can do more to build a united, caring and more prosperous nation.
Kgotso Bana ba Ntate!
Statement issued by the African National Congress
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