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Reminding South Africans of postelection violence in Zimbabwe and Kenya in 2008, the president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said the intimidation of those who hold different political views is a threat to democracy in South Africa.
With parliamentary elections scheduled for April 22, South Africa faces threats, including "blind loyalty to a party" and "corruption that delays service delivery and disillusions many people," Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, conference president, said in a mid-February statement.
He cautioned against "intolerance and intimidation of those who hold different political views" and "doing nothing," which allows "those in authority to do as they please without challenge."
Noting that South Africa faces "enormous challenges," Archbishop Tlhagale called for prayer vigils before the election, widely expected to be the most closely contested since apartheid ended in 1994.
Jacob Zuma, leader of the ruling African National Congress, is the favorite to become president, despite a renewed graft case that has dogged him for years.