28 June 2020
By Bishop Bafana Zondo
If I’ve done wrong, I should face the full might of the law
Freedom of speech is arguably one of the biggest achievements of our young democracy in a sense that it affords us the opportunity to express our views on a variety of issues without fearing for our lives.
I personally advocate for, without fear or favour, the need to further deepen this precious jewel of our country called freedom of speech because it is one of the fundamental cornerstones of our young democracy.
However, what good will this newly found freedom bring if it can be easily and absurdly abused by the likes of Solomon Izang Ashoms through their overzealous use of social media in his unfair onslaught on the general public in our country.
Ashoms opportunistically masquerades as the messiah and saviour of church congregants who are led by bishops and pastors that he disapproves of.
He has arrogated to himself an opportunity to attack some of us while falsely claiming to be speaking for the general masses. I find this to be opportunistic and cruel at the same time because it seeks to cast aspersions on the entire body of Christ.
This malicious act by Ashoms is not beneficial to the body of Christ, more so when we are actually supposed to be uniting to fight off this invisible enemy called COVID-19. This era requires a united and concentrated effort from all of us to ensure that we lead with excellence to restore the hope of the people of God in these trying times.
As a leader of Rivers of Living Waters Ministries, I know that the position I occupy thrusts me into the spotlight and unwittingly gives others what they think is the right to comment on my life without establishing facts. I have accepted that because it comes with the territory, but the amount of malice that I have endured at the hands of Ashoms is now unbearable and harbours strongly on the violation of my basic rights.
His false utterances about me on social media, in particular Facebook, not only impacts negatively on my persona, but it encroaches on my family life.
I want to believe that we are both Africans and uphold morals and value systems that are strongly rooted on discipline, love, tolerance and God. Furthermore, we both have families and wives, therefore, I view it as being grossly irresponsible to make baseless claims.
I have tried to understand but thus far I have failed to see the benefit of the lies he is continuously spreading about my marriage and family.
He is so desperate to paint me in an unfavourable manner that he will grasp at straws without a single consideration for the lives he is ruining in the process. What grinds me the most is the liberty he has to continue this baseless crusade under the guise of it being described as freedom of speech.
It is time that South Africa understands that this is just a baseless onslaught levelled against me. To prove that he has a vendetta against me and the life that I lead; he has failed to provide concrete proof of all his allegations. Among many vile accusations, he has labelled me a fake pastor who is among false prophets, fake bishops and pastors who are falling this year – all the while claiming that I know nothing of the Lord.
It’s a dangerous fixation that he has because the implications are far-reaching. We exist in truly dark times where our daughters, mothers, wives and sisters are living in constant fear of their lives, all thanks to femicide and the glutton that is gender-based violence. It is a beast that is wreaking havoc and robbing both young and old women of their lives, yet there are men such as Ashoms who are worsening the problem.
I say this because we exist in a society that can be led by emotions and lack the patience for legal recourse. I have been accused, tried and convicted on the streets of Facebook and by the courts of public opinion. Not a single case of gender-based violence has been opened against me, yet I have to constantly justify my actions and the life that I live.
My reputation continues to take a knock as the punches continue to come thick and fast in my direction. Even though I remain unshaken and unmoved, my greatest worry is about the congregants who rely on my leadership and assistance in their individual journeys of faith. Although I am disheartened at times, I know that I have scripture to encourage me and I turn to James 1:2: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
A life without challenges is one that is unrealistic and mythical. So I continue to be tested. It’s an unending cycle because my only crime as it stands is living a life that is unapologetically rooted in my faith much to the dismay of people like Ashoms, who have appointed themselves guardians of religion and paragons of correctness when it comes to how churches should be administered and how the gospel is preached.
I am a God-fearing man, no doubt with flaws, but God-fearing nonetheless. I will not be dictated to when it comes to my journey with the Lord. I’m led by the Holy Spirit and my teachings are based on that and that alone.
One is not compelled to be comfortable in my lifestyle or how I choose to praise the Lord. One does not need to agree with it, but disagreements in their nature do not automatically guarantee a free reign to tarnish my reputation. A different point of view does not grant anyone the right to fabricate lies that harm both myself, my family or my church. If I have done wrong, I should no doubt face the full might of the law, but interesting enough this cannot happen as I have yet to be charged with anything. It is far easier for cowards such as Ashoms to hide behind their screens and spew venom about the men of the clergy without being held accountable for defamation of character.
In this era of uncertainty, let us trust the Lord even more. God will come through for us. After all, He is the consuming fire and a mighty warrior in battle.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and His unfailing might.
- Zondo is founder of Rivers of Living Waters Ministries.