Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said leaders should listen to the concerns raised by thousands of South African protesters.

Speaking after attending an Easter service at the ST Engenas Zion church in Moira, Limpopo, Ramaphosa said that demonstrations against President Jacob Zuma’s leadership were driven by real concern for the country’s future.

Ramaphosa also urged religious leaders to pray for the country.Earlier, Bishop Engenas Joseph Lekganyane had ended his address to thousands of ZCC congregants with a parable about leadership directed at Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The bishop said, “When two elephants fight, I also get hurt. So we have to stop that. We all get hurt. White, Indian, Black. We all get hurt. Try to stop that. I thank you.”

When asked what he made of the analogy, which suggested conflict between himself and President Jacob Zuma, who has slammed protests against his leadership as driven by racists and people opposed to economic transformation, Ramaphosa said, “No, no, no, it isn’t.

“I mean obviously the Bishop is concerned about things that are happening in the country. The various things that’ll happen in Parliament.

“And it is correct that leaders of the faith should be concerned about the country and we welcome that. Because their voices also need to be heard. We also need their prayers.”

When questioned about whether he shared the view that the protests were driven by racists, Ramaphosa responded, “People of our country are taking to the streets.

“They’re raising their concerns, and I think what we should be doing as leaders is to listen to some of the concerns that are being raised by our people and reflect on the issues that they are raising.

“Because the people themselves own this democracy. The democracy is not owned by leaders only.

“They are active participants in the democracy of our country and they are right to be concerned. They want their country to work well. They want this country to win.

“So we should welcome the concerns that the people are raising.”