[Anglican Communion News Service] 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?”
“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.”
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 development.
“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 center 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.”
The synod’s full statement here.