Despite the high number of election-related killings leading up to the local government elections, the voting process went well, said the SA Council of Churches (SACC).
The Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) electoral commission added their voice to this.
SACC’s general secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, told reporters: “The SACC congratulates the people of Mzansi on a peaceful poll that saw people flock to voting stations without fear.”
He also thanked leaders of political parties who ensured their members behaved in a democratic and mature manner.
“Gone are the days of no-go areas and the real danger to life and limb for having a different political view,” the bishop said.
He said four of the top-six in the ANC are struggling in the face of mounting pressure for President Zuma to resign.
The National Religious Leaders’ Council, with the SACC, held a meeting with these four and pleaded with them to aid Zuma’s resignation.
Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t join this meeting.
“This is not an easy call to make,” Bishop Mpumlwana said.
“They were unable to respond directly, but they acknowledged they heard the call . . . Zuma must resign, he must not be seen as forced to resign,” he said.
The bishop added he’d received urgent calls from church leaders to make the call for Zuma to resign.
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein said the ANC needed to realise religious leaders represented more than 80% of South Africans.
“The call for the resignation of the president is the plea,” Rabbi Goldstein told journalists.
The ANC said it appreciated the religious leaders’ frankness and found the meeting useful.
“The ANC reaffirms its commitment to all sectors of society wishing to engage it on challenges facing the country with the aim to overcome them,” the party said.
The SACC’s call for Zuma to resign adds to the call from opposition parties, civil society, some ANC members and party veterans, like Ahmed Kathrada, former finance minister, Trevor Manuel, former ANC deputy secretary general, Cheryl Carolus and uMkhonto weSizwe veteran Mavuso Msimang.
The Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries’ chairperson, Justice Mahapela Lehohla, congratulated South Africans, the IEC as well as government on the “orderly and peaceful municipal elections” and they believe the outcome will reflect “the will of the people”.