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Nankhumwa, Mtumbuka differ on church politics.

NANKHUMWA— We will be surprised

MTUMBUKA— Stop cheating people

Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa and Bishop Mathews Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Church on Sunday disagreed on who is supposed to criticise the government when it goes astray.

The two spoke when Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) bade farewell to former general secretary (GS) Reverend Levi Nyondo at a ceremony held at St Andrews Congregation in Mzuzu City.

Nankhumwa, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Southern Region vice president, asked new GS Reverend William Tembo to work like Nyondo, who, according to him, criticised the DPP-led administration whenever it lost direction.

Nankhumwa said, if Livingstonia Synod were to be on mute even when the Tonse Alliance-led administration is doing things wrongly, Malawians would lose trust in the church— which is supposed to be “apolitical”.

“Nyondo was courageous. He was a straight-forward man. Therefore, we will be surprised if Livingstonia Synod will keep watching when the Tonse Alliance-led government commits mistakes,” Nankhumwa said.

But, taking his turn, Mtumbuka—who represented the Episcopal Conference of Malawi at the event—differed with Nankhumwa. He said the role of the church was to spread the gospel and not to associate itself with politics.

He said it was Nankhumwa’s role, as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, to be constructively criticising the Executive arm of the government when it fails to live up to its promises.

“You make us speak [on political issues] because we see the gap. We don’t want to be politicians. We want to be serving God. Stop cheating people. It is your work to speak when the government goes astray. We pay you for that job,” Mtumbuka said.

Former president Joyce Banda, who represented President Lazarus Chakwera, said Nyondo taught politicians to be just, peace-loving and caring.

He said Nyondo and others like Mtumbuka make democracy tick.

“Let me apologise to you, Rev. Nyondo, because you have been tortured because of me; arrested for speaking justice. Now, we are all celebrating your courage, the heart of standing for the truth,” she said.

She said Chakwera had delegated her to deliver the message that his administration would be open to criticism.

In 2010, the DPP-led administration arrested Nyondo for reasons observers described as “political”.

But Nyondo said he was happy that, for 12 years, he served the CCAP faithful as GS.

He further said he had forgiven DPP leaders for their insolence in arresting him.

As part of the celebrations, Chakwera showered Nyondo with K2 million while other well-wishers donated a brand-new vehicle, fridge, screen, clothes and other items.

Malawi Congress Party second vice president Harry Mkandawire, Alliance for Democracy president Enock Chihana, UTM officials, Bishop Fanwell Magangani of Anglican Church, among others, graced the occasion.

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