International peace advocate Reverend Goodwill Shana of Zimbabwe has encouraged Malawians to discard the spirit of division, hate and condemn tribalism if the country is to sustain existing peace.
Shana spoke this at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe where he was the guest speaker at a Presidential Prayer Breakfast organised by Pentecostal churches.
Ironically, only the host and incumbent President Peter Mutharika turned up while the other six presidential candidates in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections stayed away. The event was a reverse of what happened at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on Saturday where Mutharika did not attend prayers and peace declaration signing ceremony organised by Public Affairs Committee while yesterday’s six absentees attended.
Reflecting on Romans 12 verses 17 to 21 in King James Version Bible, Shana, who mediated in Zimbabwe’s post-election tension between then president Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (deceased), said elections are a democratic process of choosing a leader.
He said citizens should, thus, desist from enhancing divisions and tribalism, but instead embrace unity.
Said Shana: “We have freedom for speech and not freedom after speech. The main reason why conflict is a problem in Africa is because of elections. Divisions, tribalism are commander-in-chiefs for the African continent. God created differences and diversity, but not conflict.”
In his address, Mutharika touted himself as a leader who loves peace and a President who has never avenged bad actions of others.
He said the administration of his predecessor Joyce Banda arrested him but he did not retaliate when he assumed power.
Said the President: “I was put in prison for false allegations, but I never revenged and I will never revenge. People can hate me, but I will always love them.
“We should wish each other love, peace and unity. This election will come and pass, but we will always remain Malawians.”
Mutharika proceeded to make a pledge to peace which he recited alongside members of his governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). United Democratic Front (UDF) was represented by its secretary general Kandi Padambo.
The President has not yet signed PAC’s declaration.
Presidential Prayer Breakfast moderator Apostle Madalitso Mbewe said organisers extended invitations to all political parties and that they confirmed they would attend.
He described the situation as worrisome, saying it has frustrated the objective of the prayers which also sought to break the spirit of division.
PAC publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole said the quasi-religious body also extended an invitation to Mutharika to attend the prayers on May 4 and that the President accepted the invitation, but he did not attend the function.
Five of the seven presidential candidates The Nation spoke to on Wednesday indicated they would not attend yesterday’s prayers because the timing was in conflict with their schedules while others mentioned security and lack of neutrality of the venue.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah and other commissioners as well as chief elections officer Sam
Alfandika were present during prayers.
However, unlike at the PAC prayers, Ansah, a jusge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, was not given space to speak on the essence of holding a peaceful election.
The clergy from Catholic Church and the three synods of Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) were conspicuously missing while the Anglican Church was represented by Bishop Brighton Malasa of the Diocese of the Upper Shire.
University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri argued that the unavailability of other political leaders and PAC officials
should send a strong signal to the President that he set a bad example by shunning PAC prayers.