As Malawians await fresh presidential election on May 19, the country is still grappling to stabilise. Since the nullified presidential election last year, we have witnessed a wave of protests.
One of the vocal critics of the current government leadership is the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), who have been convening mass demonstrations to demand the sacking of commissioners at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
Recently, we have experienced the arrests of HRDC leaders Gift Trapence, McDonald Sembereka and Timothy Mtambo on allegations that they were planning to shut down State residences.
Different players have faulted the government for this action, but President Peter Mutharika and the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sympathisers find it necessary to “tame” these human rights activists.
Essentially, calling these rights activists as terrorist is missing the mark.
Nevertheless, what HRDC have been pushing in protest against electoral irregularities is not far from the Bible.
One of the overarching themes of God is doing justice. Actually, social justice is not only a fundamental issue, but also a goal of Christian belief and theology.
According to Michael Gohen, justice involves setting things right in economic, political and social relationships so that there may be harmony.
Justice is especially concerned with protecting the rights of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable in the face of unjust structures that favour the powerful (Luke 4:18–19).
He further contends that a God-fearing community is known by this high concern for justice.
Consequently, the God of the Bible yearns for justice and uprightness in the world.
God hates injustice and the HRDC are doing the same. God does not only hate injustice but He is very committed to rescuing people from the ordeal.
Actually, justice emanates from God, hence it is the church’s responsibility to carry it beyond HRDC actions to make the world a better place to live in.
It is very unfortunate that the church has slumbered in its responsibility of standing for the truth.
The church must, therefore, speak against all supremacy to attain justice for all people who have been silenced for long.
Injustices pervade our communities, yet as God-fearing people, we often turn a blind eye to the suffering of others at the expense of other ministries that we call “spiritual” like preaching, teaching and praying.
Nevertheless, Amos 5: 18-27 deals with any form of religious formalisation by contending that our worship or religious sacrifices are worthless if we allow others around us to continue to be sacrificed on the altars of greed, power and prejudice.
Undoubtedly, every God-fearing person is required to do justice.
Again, Micah 6:8 argues that this is what the Lord requires of us: to act justly and to love mercy. It is expected that the righteous will always stand in the gap and take care of the underprivileged.
Personally, I see HRDC actions being within the biblical theology of justice. Surely, doing justice is an indispensable component of true worship.
Consequently, the gospel of Jesus Christ has great significance for social and cultural values. Therefore, the actions of HRDC are not political, but a replication of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Importantly, one key component of justice is self-sacrificing. HRDC has so far laid themselves at the altar of sacrifice.
Actually, Christianity is about self-sacrificing.
Monika Bobbert echoes, “As the Christian faith is understood as the identity of the qualities of love of God, of your neighbour and even of your enemy, it has to look for justice in the world.”
Therefore, Christianity that does put its faith into action is useless.
Finally, Christian practice is about equality and the commitment to social justice is ultimately an expression of our obedience to the very fundamental principles of Christianity.
Therefore, HRDC actions are neither terrorist attacks nor acts of a criminal society as they have been labelled.