Diocese tells its political leaders: "Being a politician is a calling from God".
By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
The Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi has called on all the country's politicians to avoid “the turncoat habit that is prevalent among them” saying it is “unhelpful for nation building and good governance”.
The sharp rebuke came in a statement following the Diocese's 7th Holy Synod meeting in Blantyre from April 13 to 14.
“This [habit] exposes their lack of principle and erodes their integrity,” it added. “Being a politician is a calling from God and, as servants of the Almighty for the governance of his people, our politicians are duty-bound to emulate the example of Jesus Christ.”
The Synod's decision to address issues of leadership comes as Malawi prepares for its tripartite elections next year.
"Where are the politicians of nerve and principle? We believe that...the Lord has given us the Holy Spirit as our helper," the Synod said. "Can would-be politicians honestly say that you will do what you do as Christ would have you do it?”
No place for hate, violence
"We are all aware that the race for the next president, next parliament and local government is on through the forthcoming Tripartite Elections 2014. We pray that those would-be politicians would do their electioneering as though they are doing it for Christ,” said the Synod.
“It is our prayer that the dignity and integrity of all our politicians will be exhibited in their campaign speeches and behaviour. Hate speech and violence has no place in God-fearing Malawi.”
The Synod called upon the Church and all people of good will to pray for free and fair elections and for people of integrity to be elected to parliament and local government. “We will set aside a time to pray for our nation and for the elections especially. We pray for all those whose responsibility it is to run the elections and for all our security organs so that they be servants of peace and not of violence.”
A national responsibility
While setting their sights on their political leaders, Synod members made it clear that all Malawians had a responsibility to work together to address the country's problems and promote national developement.
“We continue to state that failures of development can no longer be attributed solely to the inability of the governments, institutions and people in-charge of implementing it.
“Instead of finger pointing, let us dig into the recesses of our minds and bring out our God-given knowledge and skills and find the answer. In addition it would be prudent for the government to heed the cry of the people over what they perceive to be its tendency to over-expend on the budget.”
Like many other African countries, Malawi has major economic challenges with a very high cost of living and an inflation rate of 37.5%.
The Synod also called for the “repositioning of the whole financial sector including the central bank if the country is to create an environment conducive for economic growth.”
It said that the changes are important if the country is “to stimulate large-scale manufacturing, mining and tourism which are capital intensive and which we require to in order to industrialise.”
The Synod emphasised that making structural adjustments to the financial sector would spur national economic growth, job creation and price stability.
In recent times, advocacy against gender-based violence has taken centre stage within the Church in Africa. In the statement, the Diocese appealed to all Malawians to take a lead in denouncing all demeaning talk, action and attitudes on gender. It added that all Christians should focus on combating and denouncing violence against women in all its forms.
“We are committed to the physical, psychological, social and economic development of girls and women through education, and organising sports,” said the Synod. “We encourage communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives.”
The Synod concluded by underscoring the importance of the fight against HIV and AIDS. “The scourge is still with us! We, therefore, plead with all our brothers and sisters to test for HIV,” said the Synod.
“We have seen enough suffering and death due to HIV and AIDS. It is time we said no to fear, no to stigma, no to HIV and yes to life. Let the deaths of those who have already died encourage us to desire life.”
READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW
THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF SOUTHERN MALAWI STATEMENT FROM THE 7TH SYNOD, 2013
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised if faithful … So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded … we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:19-23, 35, 39)
We, the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi meeting in Holy Synod, 0n 13-14th April, 2013, wish to thank God Almighty that with his blessings he saw the nation through the uncertain times of the events of last year’s Tridium when our President died. May His Soul Rest in Peace! We praise God that the constitutional order prevailed. In the wake of this and the current state of affairs in our nation we make this statement in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As we gather under God’s grace we are aware that Malawians are passing through hard times with high inflation currently registered at 37.5% and its attendant high cost of living. The pain and the experience of the devaluation of the Kwacha cannot escape our attention as we are all feeling the pinch. HIV and AIDS continue to decimate our people while Gender based violence continues to be prevalent. It is also in this context that we will hold the long expected tripartite elections.
There are a lot of people who think that things could be different and thande his situation could have been avoided. Given the prevailing circumstances the country had no choice but to do what the government did. For all our life as the modern country of Malawi, we have never known the real value of our money. In colonial times it was the British Pound and in the immediate post independence it was still the pound afterglow that gave strength to our currency. In later independence years it was a combination of the cold war economic factors and some of our agriculture that helped the government to peg our currency. Pegging the exchange rate, though it seems good is still artificial and thus not a true reflection of the value of our currency or any currency for that matter. The afore-mentioned factors helped cushion the nation from the effects of that artificial value then. The end of the cold war and the world economic slump, climate change and the low prices of commodities on the market exposed the futility of that artificial value. Unfortunately, for political reasons (rather myopic, we would add) successive governments strangely believed that as a country we could weather it. It is our observation that last year the government got wise to the fact and did what we all know and for the first time since the inception of the modern country of Malawi we now know the true value of our money.
We are not oblivious of the effects. We believe that (as Malawians) instead of complaining and throwing cheap political shots at each other we need to find solutions to this situation. The key word here is “we”. It is not the President alone, the government alone nor outsiders who can help us out. It is all of us together. Therefore we continue to state that failures of development can no longer be attributed solely to the inability of the governments, institutions and people in-charge of implementing it. Instead of finger pointing and the current blame game let us dig into the recesses of our minds and bring out our God given knowledge and skills and find the answer. In addition it would be prudent for the government to heed the cry of the people over what they perceive to its tendency to over expend on the budget.
It is important to embrace a managed float which is variation on the free float mechanism. Many countries use the float system to determine the rates of exchange. Under this regime, Reserve Banks intervene and help to set the exchange rates by trying to smooth out the fluctuations and volatility of the currencies.
The Reserve Bank must address the structural adjustments especially regarding base lending rates which commercial banks pass on to customers if the country is to create an environment conducive to economic growth boom; especially to stimulate large scale manufacturing, mining and tourism which is capital intensive and which we require to industrialize. Financial and banking reforms must start with the Central Bank. In fact the whole financial sector needs reforming to re-position it so that it can spearhead and spur (a) national economic growth (b) job creation and (c) price stability. Our agriculture must respond to the challenge and rise to the occasion. Short term and unsustainable programmes will not take this country anywhere. This needs to be for the long haul. Continuity rather than always beginning from scratch and pretending to reinvent the wheel in government strategic growth programmes for partisan credit should be discouraged at all cost. It costs Malawian lives.
We realize that our country had the God given opportunity to fully appreciate and develop the three branches of Government as distinct even as they are one. We had a President (Executive) who had no MPs and thus independent of the Legislature and vice versa, and our independent Judiciary. We have the Holy Trinity as an exemplar but alas! that seems to be too heavenly for mere mortal politicians trying to make a living. Due to misguided political gamesmanship the Legislature en mass baptised itself Opposition. To whom are they Opposition, one would ask? This to us was and is a demonstration of fear of taking responsibility for decisions they make and fear of the responsibility that comes with the realization that they can actually influence the governance of this country without taking partisan credit. They abdicated in favour of cheap political shots at their own shadow. They failed, and continue to fail, to see that they too have the responsibility of curbing what seems to us to be the excessive influence of the Executive on the Legislature. This was also a God given opportunity for the country to taste what it would be like if Malawians had an Independent President as our Constitution provides. This was an opportunity to think and act outside the box. The ‘politics of the belly’ seems to be our default position. No wonder the flurry of floor crossing even when there was no floor to cross! Nation first, seems to be a foreign concept to our MPs. "Altruism and the common good can wait while we slurp the gravy" seems to be the mantra. A whole rainbow of colours lines the wardrobes (or is it suitcases) of both seasoned and johnny-come-lately politicians. Where are the politicians of nerve and principle? It seems they are wedded to repeating the mistakes of the past (AFORD, UDF splits in the early 2000s for example). This is deja vu. We also saw it in the wake of Bingu's fall out with UDF. We remind all politicians that the turncoat habit prevalent among them is unhelpful for nation building and good governance. It exposes their lack of principle and erodes their integrity.
We believe that being a politician is a calling from God and as servants of the Almighty for the governance of his people, our politicians are duty bound to emulate the example of Jesus Christ. Difficult though it may seem, the Lord has given the Holy Spirit as our helper. Those amongst us who would be politicians can you honestly say that you do what you do as Christ would have you do it?
We are all aware that the race for the next President, next Parliament and Local Government is on through the forthcoming Tripartite Elections 2014. We pray that those who would be politicians would do their electioneering as though they are doing it for Christ. It is our prayer that the dignity and integrity of all our politicians will be exhibited in their campaign speeches and behaviour. Hate speech and violence has no place in God fearing Malawi.
As for those of us who will be voting, may you do so not out of coercion but in sincerity and truth. We therefore call upon the church and all people of good will to pray for free and fair elections and for people of integrity to be elected to parliament and local government. We will set aside a time to pray for our Nation and for the elections especially. We pray for all those whose responsibility it is to run the elections and for all our security organs so that they be servants of peace and not of violence. Go vote and vote wisely for it is your duty to God and fellow humankind.
Gender Based Violence
Last year we launched our Gender Policy which is a guide to gender sensitivity in the Parishes and the Diocese. The Diocese earnestly appeals to all Malawians to take a lead in denouncing all demeaning talk, action and attitudes on gender. We urge all to focus on combating and denouncing violence against women in all its forms. In this regard we plan to take an active part in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence this and every year henceforth and all the time leading to and including the Women’s World Day of Prayer. We will organize activities to that effect.
We are committed to the physical, psychological, social and economic development of girls and women through education, and organizing sports. We encourage communities to remove barriers and create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives.
HIV and AIDS
We underscore the importance of the fight against HIV and AIDS. We, therefore, plead with all our brothers and sisters to test for HIV. The scourge is still with us. Recent shocking statistics inform us that six people are infected by HIV everyday in Malawi. How long shall we succumb to death for lack of will and courage to get tested? Because we cannot cope with our mortality we die and we kill each other so. As Easter people can we not with St Paul boldly say, “Death where is your power, death where is your sting?” We have seen enough suffering and death due to HIV and AIDS. It is time we said no to fear, no to stigma, no to HIV and Yes to life. Let the deaths of those who have already died encourage us to desire life. Let that be our inspiration for testing, for Jesus Christ’s sake!
“…we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Heb 10:39)
A healthy, well governed, peaceful and prosperous Malawi is possible! May God make us the nation He desires us to be as we work together for the good of the people of Malawi and for His glory.