Barely days after President Peter Mutharika shunned prayers for peace organised by Public Affairs Committee (PAC) ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, State House is this Thursday set to host Presidential Prayer Breakfast.
The prayers have been organised by several Christian churches, including Pentecostal Revival Crusade Ministries, Calvary Family Church, Agape Life Church, Charismatic Redeemed Ministries International, Malawi Assemblies of God and Living Waters Church.
In a statement signed by convener of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast which dates back to 1999, Apostle Madalitso Mbewe, said the event, which seeks to promote peaceful coexistence in the run-up to the elections, will be held at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.
In an earlier interview, Mbewe said all presidential candidates in this year’s election are expected to attend.
These prayers come hot on the heels of a similar initiative by PAC, a quasi-religious body, on Saturday which saw six presidential candidates signing a Peace Declaration to bind themselves not to tolerate any kind of violence before, during and after May 21 Tripartite Elections. Mutharika shunned the PAC-organised prayers despite earlier committing to attend.
Ironically, the President will be the guest of honour at the prayers in his backyard.
Reacting to the development, Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafiq Hajat and University of Livingstonia (Unilia) political scientist George Phiri questioned the rationale of having separate national prayers at a restricted place, considering that they should be meant for all people in the country.
While backing Mutharika for not availing himself during PAC prayers, Hajat, in a telephone interview, said the Presidential Prayer Breakfast should have been held at a neutral venue where people from all walks of life would avail themselves.
He said: “The fact that
the President sent a representative at PAC
prayers that means he was there in spirit. What is important is that
they should not just be prayers but we should walk the talk that leaders will maintain peace.”
But Presidential Prayer Breakfast organising committee secretary Bishop Connex Kadumah said the event has traditionally been hosted at State House since the 1999 General Elections.
But Phiri wondered if other political party leaders will
attend the event, considering that the President “set a bad example” by not
attending prayers that the quasi-religious body organised on Saturday.
On his part, PAC publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole said he saw no problem with the arrangement, but said he was not aware if PAC was invited.
Presidential Prayer Breakfast sessions started in 1999 and have been held during every election except 2014 when the organisers said they lacked funding.