Political row breaks out over Second Coming
A has broken out between political parties in South Africa over a comment made by Deputy President Jacob Zuma that the ANC would rule until Jesus returned.
The Democratic Alliance has now fired the latest salvo in the row that erupted after the comments made on the campaign trail on Sunday.
The row has intensified as South African Christian Democrats have also joined in the war of words.
Zuma originally told Gauteng election workers at the Nasrec Expo Centre that the African National Congress would "rule South Africa until Jesus comes back".
But ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama has accused opposition parties of deliberately misrepresenting Zuma's use of a common colloquialism to stir up emotions among Christian voters.
The expression used was in the same way as, for example, "until Kingdom come", he said.
The Democratic Alliance's national chairperson Joe Seremane said the African Christian Democratic Party should not present itself as the sole custodian of the Christian faith.
"In its desperation to try and dominate any issue to do with Christianity, the ACDP has decided to attack the DA instead of the ANC," he said in a statement.
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said Seremane's remark should be even more offensive to Christians because it implied the DA believed Jesus would not return, as He promised.
Meshoe's accusation was refuted by Ngonyama on Tuesday.
The DA said Ngonyama confirmed that Zuma's implication was that the ANC would remain in power "in perpetuity" or at least until "an indeterminate point far into the future".
"The DA therefore correctly interpreted the deputy president," Seremane claimed.
However, Ngonyama's attempts to "spin Zuma's foot out of his mouth" only served to reaffirm the DA's second, and much more substantive criticism of Zuma's comment - its reflection of the ANC's questionable understanding of, and commitment to, liberal democracy in the country.
"It is the language of a one-party state. A government may enjoy a majority of popular support, but unless it is willing to allow the opposition to come to power through the ballot box, then it is a dictatorship not a democracy," Seremane said.