The clergy by their nature cannot completely stay away politics. They live with the people in the communities and are part and parcel of the challenges ordinary citizens go through. They are therefore always part of the political engagement and are a key player in holding the government accountable.
The very nature of religious institutions, however, demands that religious leaders should be politically independent and impartial.
This is because churches, mosques and other religious places have memberships from all political parties. To serve such a membership, one would be required to be non-partisan and embrace people of all political backgrounds.
It therefore becomes worrying when members of the clergy get involved in active politics, to the extent of fighting publicly among themselves because of their political affiliations.
The case in point is that of CCAP Blantyre Synod’s general secretary Alex Maulana and prison chaplain Stainley Chimesya who are fighting fiercely over their apparent political affiliations ahead of the synod’s elections for top positions slated for August 25.
During the elections, Maulana will be seeking a second term and is expected to battle it out with Reverend Lazarus Kadango and Paul Mawaya on the position of secretary general.
What has caused all the mayhem is that one camp believes that Kadango and Mawaya are being sponsored by the People’s Party (PP) through Chimesya while the other camp thinks Maulana is a plant of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) during the elections.
Over the weekend, the two reverends were in the papers over a vehicle which was donated to either the church or Chimesya by former President Joyce Banda while she was still in office.
It has reached a point where reverends are now fighting publicly in the media with their accusations and counter-accusations on political affiliations. Some of them are also not even talking to each other in the run up to the elections.
This should be embarrassing to the Synod’s leadership and membership and one wonders why they are all allowing it to happen under their watch.
This is a development that will divide the leadership and membership of the synod and will have far reaching consequences long after the elections. Something needs to be done now to save the sanctity of the church before things get worse.
The entire leadership of the synod should therefore take this matter seriously. They have to undertake investigations to get to the bottom of the matter, sit down and find ways of addressing it. This is a matter that should never be swept under the carpet.
It wouldn’t be asking too much for all the contestants who are being linked with political sponsorships to step aside and allow those without political leanings to contest for the positions.
The church should not allow a few greedy leaders – who are using the synod for their personal gains, to dent the image of the entire institution.
The membership of the synod also has the responsibility to demand action from the leaders. Unless the congregations actively show intolerance to this infiltration, the Blantyre Synod will become a playground for cheap politics that will erode its credibility as a respectable religious institution.
Going forward, strict rules must be put in place that will prohibit leaders from engaging themselves in active politics like it is happening with some of the contestants in the forthcoming elections.
Key decisions also have to be made regarding the receiving of gifts such as money or vehicles from politicians. It is such things that are used by politicians to infiltrate churches and manipulate the minds of religious leaders.
One thing the members of Blantyre Synod should know is that the effects of this embarrassing political squabbling will go beyond the elections on May 25.
The elections will leave behind a broken church with a divided leadership and membership as well as a soiled reputation that will take long to rebuild.
Whoever shall win the election, between the two fighting camps, will continue to be associated with one political party and all his statements and decision will be looked at with political lenses.
That’s why it is important for the church to resolve this matter now rather than later to ensure that the elections are used to build rather than destroy it. In the current circumstances, the synod is on a roller coaster of gross destruction of its reputation.
An institution of high repute like Blantyre Synod should not allow to be disgraced in such manner. #ThumbsDown to Reverend Maulana and Reverend Chimesya.
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