Former president Jacob Zuma is gunning for a third time as the head of state if his hint at a Nazareth Baptist Church service at the weekend is anything to go by.
Addressing scores of worshippers at the church commonly known as Shembe, Zuma asked for their blessings and prayers, as he plots to stage a spectacular return to politics.
The worshipers, under Mduduzi “uNyazi LweZulu” Shembe of Ebuhleni faction, are on their annual pilgrimage to the holy Khenana Mountain in Ndwedwe in the north of Durban.
Since December, Zuma has been on a campaign trail across the country for the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP).
This after he declared on December 16 that he would not vote for the ANC in the general elections which are expected to be conducted in the first six months of 2024.
His unexpected announcement left the governing party divided, anxious and uncertain ahead of what is likely to be the fiercest elections since 1994.
There are mooted plans to expel Zuma from the ANC following his decision to ditch the party he once led as its president.
Addressing the worshippers while kneeling down and surrounded by church elders, reverends, and evangelists, Zuma said: “As you all know, I was prematurely removed from office because I was trying to help the poor.
“But the conduct of some people has forced me to make a political comeback to resolve the issues of the poor. I would like ubaba [church leader Shembe] to pray for me as I am eyeing a comeback.
“I listened attentively to his prayer and sermon today, and I would appreciate it if his hands could touch me because I want to bounce back.”
Shembe church spokesperson Thokozani Mncwabe said the church knew Zuma would attend the service.
“Msholozi’s visit is not special. He has been to our headquarters in Ebuhleni in Inanda in the past and would have private meetings with our leader,” said Mncwabe.
“Remember we are in crunch election time, so we anticipate many political leaders to come in numbers seeking blessings from our leader.
“Most recently, we had the PAC leader [Mzwanele Nyhotso] in our shores.”
Founded in 1910 by prophet Isaiah Mdliwamafa Shembe, the Nazareth Baptist Church is the second-largest indigenous church in the country with an estimated 12.8-million followers.