President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited all South Africans to take part in a National Day of Prayer wherever they are, in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The President made the call on the eve of the 21-day national lockdown, which will start at midnight Thursday (tonight).
Following discussions with religious leaders, President Ramaphosa called on citizens to observe two minutes of prayer, reflection or silent meditation on 26 March 2020 between 6pm and 6:30pm.
The President said this is the moment when South Africans need to act together as one patriotic nation in solidarity with all those affected or impacted by COVID-19, not just in South Africa but around the world.
“These are challenging times. We are traversing a path we have never travelled before. There are many amongst us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable. I call on our people to offer a prayer and a thought for the protection and healing of our land and its people from this disease.
“Over the past two weeks, South Africans from all walks of life have demonstrated their resilience by complying with the restrictions that have been placed on their lives. Because we are in a state of national lockdown, our prayers must be offered from our hearts and in our homes,” President Ramaphosa said.
The National Day of Prayer comes in response to a proposal made by interfaith leaders, who met with the President last week to express their support for the national effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
National prayer days have been held in a number of countries this week, including parts of the US, UK, the Philippines, Kenya, Mexico and Italy.
“The international occurrence of the Coronavirus pandemic has affirmed yet again that the challenge we face is a global one and one we cannot overcome alone.
“I call on all our people, whether they are religious or not, wherever they are, on Thursday, 26 March, to observe a moment of silence in a show of social solidarity,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said the nation’s thoughts should particularly be with those in hospital, quarantine or self-isolation.
“In observing this National Day of Prayer, we also want to send a message of hope to our brave and patriotic health care workers, who are on the frontline and helping to save lives, with our emergency personnel, police, traffic officers and military, and with all those who are working tirelessly to keep us safe, healthy and alive.
“The media has been exemplary in keeping our people well-informed about the work of government in dealing with this pandemic,” the President said, noting that the hardships imposed by the national lockdown were considerable.
He said the coming weeks will sorely test the nation’s resolve and patience.
“For millions of South Africans, for whom faith is a source of hope and courage, this difficult time must strengthen and unite us as never before.”
Saai, the organisation for family farmers in SA, said it welcomes President Ramaphosa’s call for prayer tonight.
“There’s nothing that has a mightier, more unifying impact than collective prayer and nothing could be more healing for South Africa.
“Saai is seriously committed to participating and call on every family in South Africa to stand together in prayer,” the organisation said in a statement on Thursday.
Display South Africa’s National Flag
The President also called on citizens to demonstrate their solidarity with fellow South Africans by displaying the National Flag on social media (#PrayForSouthAfrica), outside their homes and other prominent places as an act of compassion and unity during the national lockdown.