General Secretary of the Malawi Council of Churches [MCC] Bishop Gilford Matonga says there is a lot of hypocrisy by the donor community in pushing the Malawi government to change some laws that he said are not in sync with the Constitution and people’s culture.
Matonga spoke with The Daily Times on Saturday in reaction to various statements from donors and other human rights defenders, both local and international, who accuse government of failure to uphold its moratorium on people indulging in consensual sexual activities.
“African people must be given an opportunity to choose the course of life they would like to live. We are also disappointed with the donor community that they tie aid to issues that relate to the culture of the people. We need to respect people’s wishes and constitutions of those nations,” said Matonga.
He said the conduct by the donor community is an indication that they do not consider the constitution and the cultural aspects of the Malawian society which regard same sex marriages as an abomination.
He also expressed fear that if donors continue pushing government to change laws unnecessarily, the same government will eventually be unstoppable in changing some laws that will impinge people’s rights.
“If the donor community pushes the Malawi government to change its laws like that, what will in the near future stop the government in changing the laws that are not good for the Malawian people? If they want homosexuality they should lobby people so that they choose for themselves otherwise putting government on the tight corner to accept same sex marriages is unethical, not right and it’s raping our Constitution,” he said.
Matonga also said that the stand of the church will always be against legalising homosexuality: “Malawi is quite a conservative society. We have certain behaviours that we think are not right to tolerate. So we are shocked that we are at a point of breaking our own Constitution because we are a constitutional society which we need to value and respect.”
But on whether Malawi is breaking her own Constitution by committing to honour the moratorium, Chancellor College based law expert, Edge Kanyongolo, said government is only practising discretion to prosecute.
“This is a display of discretion on the part of the government where there is a law and it happens to make a decision on when to arrest and prosecute,” said Kanyongolo.
And on whether Malawi, as a nation, has any stand on issues of homosexuality Kanyongolo urged government to come out clear on the issue.
“That’s the point, government should be clear where it stands with the laws, and does it agree or disagree with the law? Because if we continue talking of the moratorium, it can be confusing. If you have the law which still remains part of other laws, government cannot claim not to arrest anyone at all on the basis of that law. If the government does that, it is essentially rendering that law obsolete,” Kanyongolo said.