Photo Credit: Diocese of Johannesburg / Gary van der Merwe / Wikimedia
The Bishop of Johannesburg, Dr Steve Moreo, has criticised controversial South African politician Julius Malema after he appeared to call for the murder of white people. Malema, who leads the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, said on Monday (7 November) “We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people – at least for now” during an emotionally charged speech to his supporters.
“Such language, and indeed a lot of his divisive address [on Monday], has no place in a free democracy,” Bishop Moreo said. “It has no place in our beloved country which our former archbishop, Desmond Tutu, so rightly dubbed ‘the rainbow nation’ when we celebrated our liberation from our institutional racist past in 1994.
“Malema is on record as saying that he may not be a churchgoer, but he believes in Jesus Christ and God. Like Mr Malema, I also believe in Jesus Christ and God. I too, like him, am black. But unlike him, it seems, I know that in Christ there is no east or west, no north or south, but one great fellowship of love.”
Malema is the former President of the African National Congress Youth League. He established the Economic Freedom Fighters after being expelled from the ANC for bringing it and the government into disrepute. He had attacked a BBC journalist and sung a racist song, Shoot the Boer at a rally. Boer, in this context, refers to an Afrikaans-speaking white person. Malema has numerous convictions for hate speech.
“Malema’s vitriolic attack on his fellow white South Africans is sad and a stark reminder that the naked sin of racism is alive and well in South Africa,” Bishop Moreo said. “It is a reminder that racism is as damaging whether articulated by black or white and is no different to the corruption and greed of many in our country – all of which is decaying our land right now. It is particularly shameful to see it manifest in a person such as Malema.
“Christians can have no truck with this hateful, anti-Christian rhetoric. All South Africans can trace the history of their lives to the influence of many people, from different races, various creeds and backgrounds. None of us exists in a vacuum, for all of us are made in the image of God and are dependent on the community of the faiths to which we each belong.
“The manner in which Jesus Christ carried out his ministry, reaching out to minorities and the marginalised in his day, tells us that true liberation entails an acceptance of everyone, irrespective of our cultures, our history or the baggage we bring that may tempt us to hate. The apostle, Paul, emphasises this with great clarity: ‘there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free’ (Colossians 3:11).”