President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to lead a call for a National Day of Prayer via a televised address on Tuesday evening (26 May) at 19h30.
In a statement, the Presidency said Ramaphosa will also “provide an update on provisions for the religious sector following a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).”
This follows the NCCC’s consideration of inputs from religious leaders, the Presidency added. The address will also be broadcast on radio.
Large religious gatherings have been prohibited since the lockdown was first implemented on 27 March.
In his address to the nation on Sunday, Ramaphosa said during level 3 lockdown that starts on 1 June, all gatherings will remain prohibited “except for funerals with no more than 50 people or meetings in the workplace for work purposes.”
However, he added, “We have had fruitful discussions with leaders of the interfaith religious community on their proposals for the partial opening of spiritual worship and counselling services subject to certain norms and standards.
“We have all agreed to have further discussions on this issue and are confident we will find a workable solution.”
The President was referring to the virtual meeting he had with religious leaders last week. It included leaders from the SA Catholic Bishops Conference, the SA Council of Churches and the National Interfaith Council of SA.
Others were from the Muslim Judicial Council, the Jewish Board of Deputies, the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, African Independent Churches, Charismatic/Pentecostal churches, African Traditional Faiths, the National Religious Leaders Council and the Southern African Interfaith Council.
Ramaphosa’s scheduled address comes after some sections of society expressed concern that the prohibition on religious gatherings would continue during level 3 lockdown.
On Monday, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe said the continued prohibition would be “unfair.”
He said, “There’s an anti-church attitude developing in South Africa and that is very concerning to me.
“If they are saying churches are irrelevant now, then the [African National Congress] must treat churches that way during the elections. They must be irrelevant then too.”