Tension eases after S.A. talks

Published April 1, 1998

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Njong-onkulu Ndungane, emerged from his meeting with President Nelson Mandela on Thursday Mar. 5 encouraged that the air had been cleared, following reports that the President had criticized him in front of two of his bishops and several other clergy.

Archbishop Ndungane, who was accompanied by a delegation of 14, including one of the bishops concerned, Bishop Duncan Buchanan of Johannesburg, said that fair and frank views had been exchanged during the meeting.

The President had indicated his unhappiness at remarks by the archbishop in a newspaper interview published in early February.

Speaking at a press conference, Archbishop Ndungane said he did not want to deal with the detail of the differences that existed between himself and the President and which had led to the meeting with Mr. Mandela.

“But we have cleared the perception that there was tension between Church and state,” he said.

He said one of the issues that had been misunderstood was the context in which he had made a remark that “Mad-iba magic won’t solve South Africa’s problems.” He had made this comment in the belief that all South Africans needed to pull together and that they should recognise that with freedom goes responsibility.

“We cannot expect that the President is the only person who will be able to make a difference. All of us have to do so together,” he said.

Reacting to a remark that a presidential spokesman had told the media after the meeting that he was misinformed, Archbishop Ndungane said he would not be drawn into responding to comments made by such spokesmen.

The government, he said, had an unenviable task in terms of meeting the demands and expectations of people who sought social uplift-ment.


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