- Gwede Mantashe faced a caustic reception while addressing church leaders in Durban on Sunday.
- Some clergymen called for Zuma to be released, while others insisted the ANC had betrayed the former president.
- Mantashe dismissed their calls out of hand, saying no state would consider their request amid an insurrection.
ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe says he is confident the South African security forces will be able to maintain calm, in spite of fears of renewed violence in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.
“The police and the soldiers are deployed in many areas and we put a lot of faith in their abilities and their capacity. Therefore, we hope any attempt at sabotage will be deflected.”
Mantashe’s comments on Sunday, during a meeting with religious leaders in Durban, come amid a swirl of messages circulated on social media about renewed unrest.
A voice note in isiZulu, one of many, speaks of another national shutdown on Monday.
Mantashe’s visit to KZN on Sunday included meetings in Pietermaritzburg and Durban, where he addressed a querulous group of Jacob Zuma-supporting clerics at the City Hall.
About 60 pastors, under the banner of a group called “Interfaith”, were led by, among others, Zuma ally, Bishop Vusi Dube.
The group demanded the release of the incarcerated former president.
Mantashe called for peace amid grumblings from the floor.
He said no government would “talk pardon in the face of an insurrection”, adding that looting, as far as he was concerned, “had nothing to do with the Zuma I know”.
A visibly piqued Mantashe left the meeting within an hour.
In the meeting, Dube had to call several speakers to order. Some accused Mantashe of “betraying” Zuma.
Afterwards, Mantashe told the media it was important to speak to the religious sector because of their congregants.
The meeting was constructive, he said, in spite of the fact that some comments were “way off the mark”.
Pastor SS Mtshali, from Umlazi, who attended the meeting, said there was a palpable sense of anger.
“Mantashe said there was no animosity between him and Zuma. People don’t believe that. Some speakers said the ANC top six must resign.
“The meeting was bulls***,” said another pastor outside.
Interfaith spokesperson Bishop Sandile Ndlela said: “We wanted to speak about the looting… We said former president Jacob Zuma must be freed.”