Thyolo North Constituency was recently designated a violence-prone area following a series of clashes between members of the ruling People’s Party (PP) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Interestingly, perpetrators of these politically-induced hostilities are also professing Christians and Muslims.
Does this mean the church has failed to instill the spirit of love among their members? Last Saturday, our reporter WATIPASO MZUNGU JNR engaged President of Bvumbwe Pastor’s Fraternal Bishop Fexon Kamwendo, in a discussion.
What is the mandate of Pastors’ Fraternal?
Our mandate is basically to encourage unity among different faiths. As you might be aware, difference in faith has been a cause for clashes among people across the world.
The Pastors’ Fraternal was established to bring unity among people, irrespective of their religious inclinations. And that unity must start with faith leaders. The Fraternal acts as a forum where religious leaders discuss issues that have the potential to bring divisions among people and find solutions to them.
Recently, Thyolo North Constituency witnessed clashes between members of the ruling PP and DPP over petty issues such as fighting for power to direct activities of the funerals. Was the Fraternal already in place when these clashes happened?
It is difficult for us as religious leaders to imagine some heartless politician planning chaos at a funeral just to get noticed. Our assumption has been that every human being understands a funeral not as a podium for achieving one’s political ambitions.
I believe that politicians who are turning funerals into political podiums are driven by evil spirits. Surely, no sane and God-fearing politician can take his or her campaign message to the house of mourning. It is just ungodly and inhumane.
It appears politics is dividing us because man seems ready to kill another to achieve political ambitions. Doesn’t this mean religion has failed to promote love for one another?
It is our expectation that as we preach, members put the message into practice. The Bible emphasises on love for our neighbors. It is, therefore, unfortunate that perpetrators of violence should be coming from amongst us.
However, this does not mean religion has failed to guide believers to God’s will. On the contrary, religious leaders have been steadfast in providing spiritual guidance when things go wrong or where there are indications that things will go wrong.
Apart from the devil, what do you think is behind political violence?
The major contributing factor to politically-motivated clashes is lack of knowledge on the philosophy of politics. It appears many people, including those in high political positions do not understand what politics stands for.
And those with knowledge [about politics] deliberately disregard to walk by its principles and values for their own selfish gains.
So, what have you been doing to sensitise people about civilised politics?
Bvumbwe Pastors’ Fraternal is in partnership with the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust and we are currently sensitising people on the need to practice civilised politics.
We are doing this by engaging political leaders into discussions such as we are having today (last Saturday). We are emphasising to leaders of various political parties to ensure that their members do not get involved in any sort of violence otherwise the churches stand to excommunicate them.
We also integrate this message in our Sunday sermons. This is to ensure that everyone is reached with the message on the need for clean politics in Malawi. We tell them that as long as we are all Malawians, we are supposed to treat each other like brothers and sisters.