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ATM’s spiritual father blesses party leader with a Mercedes-Benz at fifth anniversary bash

ATM’s spiritual father blesses party leader with a Mercedes-Benz at fifth anniversary bash
ATM spiritual father Caesar Nongqunga blesses party leader Vuyo Zungula and bestows him with a black Mercedes Benz C220d which retails at more than R900,000 during the party’s fifth anniversary celebration and launch of its 2024 election campaign at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on 28 May 2023. (Photo: Queenin Masuabi)

The African Transformation Movement held its fifth anniversary celebrations and launched its 2024 election campaign at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) took a brave step by holding its fifth anniversary celebrations on Saturday at the 46,000-capacity Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha — it barely managed to fill a quarter of the stadium.

While empty seats were a noticeable aspect of the event, another was about who actually is at the helm of the party. The media and Parliament may be quick to identify 36-year-old Vuyo Zungula as the ATM leader, but events on Saturday seemed to show otherwise.  

While the stadium was draped with images of Zungula’s face, there were also plenty of posters of the ATM’s spiritual father, Caesar Nongqunga, the “chief apostle” of the Twelve Apostles’ Church in Christ (TACC) worldwide.

Nongqunga occupied the main chair on stage and was listed as the keynote speaker at the event above Zungula.

When it was Nongqunga’s turn to address the crowd, a black Mercedes-Benz C220d, which retails at over R900,000, was driven on to the field.

Nongqunga announced that it was a gift to Zungula from the church, which also gave the party’s secretary-general, Thandisizwe Khaluka, a 4×4 vehicle. 

atm launch election

African Transformation Movement supporters at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on 28 May 2023 during the launch of the party’s 2024 election campaign. (Photo: Queenin Masuabi)

“We are very thankful for the work you have done. We have decided that we will give you that Mercedes-Benz,” Nongqunga said to Zungula on stage. “You are the leader of the ATM, you cannot be driving a Polo.”  

Later, Nongqunga explained to Daily Maverick what his position as an elder in the party entailed.

“You have seen the DA with a Federal Council, which is the same thing with us — we have a council for elders and I am the head of the council,” he said.

Following of millions

The TACC  is part of the SA Council of Messianic Churches in Christ, which has a following of 6.8 million members.  

Carien du Plessis has written that Nongqunga had a plan in 1971 to unify the ANC, the PAC and Inkatha, with Jacob Zuma representing the ANC.  

Failing this, he wrote that all African independent churches should be unified to form “a strong African Transformation Congress to bring peace between the PAC and the ANC”.

Nongqunga apparently believes this was a prophecy of sorts, which came to fruition in 2018 when the African Transformation Movement was formed. The “congress” in the name was replaced by “movement” when the name was registered with the Independent Electoral Commission so as not to have the ANC objecting about possible confusion, he said.

Five years of ATM

Since then, the ATM has been one of the smaller parties which have tried to make their mark by holding the governing party accountable. Notably, Zungula compelled the Public Protector to launch an investigation into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s possible violation of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act in connection with the Phala Phala scandal.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s Farmgate scandal – a timeline of what we know (and don’t know) so far

However, the ATM still works with the ANC at local government level and its alliance with the governing party has landed it its first mayoral position — Danny Thupane, who was elected as mayor of Mogale in April with 43 votes: 31 from the ANC, 11 from the EFF and one from his own party.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mogale City — Meet the African Transformation Movement’s first mayor, Danny Thupane  

The ATM will head to the 2024 national elections having lost one of its prominent members, Jacob Zuma Foundation spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi. He joined the party in 2019 and headed the policy department, but is now an ordinary card-carrying member of the EFF after recently ditching the ATM.   

The ATM’s policy revolves around the amalgamation of politics and religion. The party believes that the justice system should reintroduce capital punishment for repeat offences of murder and rape.  

Nongqunga believes the party should shoot for the stars and prepare to govern come 2024. 

“We will manage to make headway in the 2024 elections. Look at us — there is no one funding us but we can do everything for ourselves. We manage our homes and our church; what is managing the government? Because the church on its own is the government. We cannot talk about capacity if you are talking to us about governing. We cannot be a watchdog only, this is a transformation movement, we need to transform the whole system. We are not just going to be just a watchdog,” he said.

The party first contested elections in 2019 just a year after its formation and received 76,830 votes, ensuring it would be represented in Parliament by two members, Zungula and Thandiswa Marawu. 

At Saturday’s rally, Zungula mentioned the many societal ills facing South Africans and urged citizens to come out in their numbers to vote in the national elections next year.

“We need to be active politically… we cannot be bystanders in the governance of our country. It’s political decisions that shape the direction of the country and we must participate. We removed the National Party through a vote and we will remove the ANC through a vote in 2024,” he said. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Pet Bug says:

    So many questions.

  • David Mitchley says:

    The fact that they proclaim to want to remove the anc, but at the same are willing to work with the anc at local government level shows that they are just interested in having their time to feed at the trough.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Looks like they looted another ATM! 🙂

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    This action actually says it all! God ( if there is one) help us!!!!!

  • Iam Fedup says:

    Oh, so no different from all the others then. Steal, lie, spin and fill your pockets, just like the others in Chief Albert Lootfreely House.

  • Chris 123 says:

    Always about the bling, that money could have been used to uplift his congregation but no, it’s Merc’s and Gucci these guys worship.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Obviously it pays well to be a church head 😈

  • John Smythe says:

    ATM Airforce Battalion?

  • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

    Just another group of ANC cadres masquerading as an opposition party. I feel sorry for the church-goers who have donated their hard-earned money so that their ‘ father’ can hand over a R900k Merc & another 4×4 to to his low life comrades with huge egos (like the ‘spiritual father’) so that they can drive around in fancy cars, doing nothing but being destructive & parading their wealth. It is sickening.

  • L Dennis says:

    ATM is that a cash machine? Louis Vuitton flashy cars shiny shoes. The lamp of wickedness will be put out.

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    How does donation tax play out SARS?

    • Ritchie Morris says:

      Ahh – I googled it: Here is the answer = 20% donation tax due by the donor.
      “Donations tax is an amount that the donee must pay to SARS when donating a large sum of money or gift. The donations tax will be levied when the gift/donation is equal to or more than R100K in an annual tax cycle (provided you haven’t made any other donations. If you as a parent buy a car that is valued at more than R100k, you may be liable to pay a 20% donation tax for the value over R100k. Because you are giving your child a vehicle as a gift it is considered to be a “donation”. “

      • Bruce Anderson says:

        This also raises the question: was this a donation from an individual (in which case he should have paid tax on the income received initially and then the donations tax on the two vehicles … or, if it’s the church, surely a donation to a political party is not consistent with its tax exempt NGO status … and the church should be reclassified as a business by SARS …. and lose its tax exempt status. It appears to me that a lot of money laundering and tax evasion may be happening via organizations claiming spiritual exemptions.

  • espach.johann says:

    Has the 25% donation tax beings paid to SARS on the value of the donations

  • virginia crawford says:

    Compare this behaviour to what Gift of the Givers is doing in EC. They sound like Pharisees to me.

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