His words sounded prophetic when in 2016 a coalition of South African religious leaders joined other critics and urged Zuma to step down. In early 2018, Zuma was ousted after a power struggle with his deputy, Mr. Ramaphosa, who took office in February of that year.
By this time, Archbishop Tutu had largely stopped giving interviews due to his deteriorating health and was rarely seen in public. But a few months after Mr. Ramaphosa was sworn in as the new president with the promise of a “new dawn” for the nation, the Archbishop welcomed him into his home.
“Know that we pray regularly for you and your colleagues so that this is not a false dawn,” said Archbishop Tutu. Mr. Ramaphosa warned.
At the time, support for the ANC waned, although it remained the largest political party in the country. In the 2016 election while he was still leading Zuma, the party’s vote share fell to its lowest level since the end of apartheid. Ramaphosa struggled to reverse the trend, but later took some credit for his tough handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Archbishop Tutu for most of his life was a charming preacher, his voice sonorous and loud. He would often come down from the pulpit to hug his parishioners. Occasionally, he would explode into a polka-dotted dance in the aisles, peppering his message with the sense of humor and laughter that had become his hallmark, inviting his audience to a contest of exhilarating camaraderie. He reassured his sons of God’s love, urging them to follow the path of nonviolence in their struggle.
Politics was rooted in his religious teachings. He said in one of his parables: “We had the land and they had the Bible.” Then they said, “Let’s pray,” and we closed our eyes. When we opened it up again, they had the land and we had the Bible. Perhaps we could have come to a better end to the deal.”
His moral leadership, along with his superior personality, made him a world-famous figure. Filmed at glamorous social events, appeared in documentaries and chatted with talk show hosts. Even in late 2015, when his health was poor, Prince Harry met the Prince of Great Britain, who paid tribute to him on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II.
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