By Mandy Pondani:
Prominent church bodies in the country have condemned the continued attack and persecution of the church by political cadres with just three days away from Malawi’s sixth democratic election Tuesday.
The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Secretary General Father Henry Saindi said in a telephone interview Thursday the Catholic Church body is disturbed by reports that some politicians are unleashing their machinations on church leaders who oppose their political philosophies.
Saindi’s sentiments come in the wake of continued reports of threats and attacks by suspected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operatives on leaders of NKhoma Synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) after the synod published a pastoral letter tackling the forthcoming elections.
He said it is a pity that those in power endeavour to intimidate the church and anyone with dissenting views despite the country opting for multiparty dispensation more than two decades ago.
“It is unfortunate; we have always condemned political violence because it does not resonate with multiparty democracy. People must be free to choose their leaders and also air their views without being afraid of those that are in power and the church is no exception,” Saindi said.
He warned all perpetrators of violence that no form of intimidation will stop the religious leaders from speaking against evil and guiding the laity on the type of leaders that should be voted into power come May 21.
“They may want to persecute the church in whatever manner but we will not cow down. If anything, that gives us more strength to stand for the truth,” he said.
Apparently, unlike in the past elections, ECM has not issued any pastoral letter but has rather provided all Catholics with a Novena Prayer guide meant for the elections in which they have outlined the quality of a leader that Christians should pray for.
The Anglican Council in Malawi Chairperson Bishop Fanuel Magangani corroborated Saindi’s sentiments saying the church has a prophetic role anywhere in the world and it will not be silenced by those who feel attacked or targeted by it.
“We are there to tell the message, whether the message is bad or good for some section of people of political organisation, that’s their problem. But we have to stand and tell the truth. Persecution cannot stop us from speaking because we know that God avenges on our behalf,” Magangani said.
Asked on what the Anglican council is doing in the last days of the campaign trail, Bishop Magangani said they have endeavoured to guide their members who is trustworthy and has hatred for impunity.
“An election is more like delegating authority; people will be choosing individuals to serve on their behalf. Our message to people is to choose leaders who they can trust, leaders who will not put the delegating authority into disrepute,” he said.
But Livingstonia Synod of CCAP General Secretary Levi Nyondo decried what he termed growing trends of impunity and corruption under the current regime, adding he hopes God will give Malawi sound leadership in the aftermath of May 21 elections.
He also condemned reports that the governing DPP has been using public resources such as vehicles of district councils on their campaign trail.
A number of Long Term Observation (LTO) reports by Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) established that the DPP used government vehicles to ferry supporters to campaign events.
“In 21 percent of the districts, Mesn LTOs observed instances where government or State corporation vehicles were used for campaigning purposes by the DPP candidates and in some instances independent candidates,” reads part of the third LTO report.
Apparently, the Evangelical Association of Malawi through its General Secretary Franscis Mkandawire has announced of tripartite elections’ prayers being held today [Saturday] in Lilongwe.