President Bingu wa Mutharika had a rude awakening when head of the Catholic church in Malawi, His Grace Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza bluntly said in his presence that he should stop gagging the civil society, the media and the faith community, saying they had a role to play in safeguarding the hard-won democracy and the rule of law.
He made the remarks at the National Day of Prayers whose theme was “A Nation Seeking God’s Intervention in Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Peace,” which were held at Comesa Hall in Blantyre on Tuesday.
Delivering the English sermon at the event, which was also attended by the First Lady, Calista Mutharika, Bishop Zuza said that the current social, political and economic problems were “of our own making depending on our respective roles”.
The Bishop said more often than not, stakeholders tend to point fingers at each other for the worsening problems the country is facing, but said more worrying is that those with “more authority” threaten others.
“They tell us (clergy) not to interfere with politics; we are seen as intruders. They say that the civil society organizations were not elected; yes they were indeed not elected but they are working for the good of the nation,” said the man of God.
The Chairperson of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi added that the media has not been spared in the smear campaign, but observed the media was doing a commendable job to inform the people what is happening.
The Bishop also admonished others who blame government and leadership for what is taking place, saying such people usually say “this government started very well” but it has derailed and that the leadership has stopped “listening”, “what kind of advisors does the president have?”
Zuza . who heads Mzuzu Diocese said all this was counterproductive and that instead, Malawians must examine their consciences, saying all human beings have weaknesses and strengths.
“When Adam and Eve had sinned to God, Adam blamed Eve, ‘the wife you have given me oh Lord’, and in turn, Eve shifted the blame to the snake. Let’s not be like Adam and Eve but accept our weaknesses and turn them into strengths,” the Bishop said.
In a more blunt tone, Bishop Zuza said any person who thinks is always perfect is wrong, saying that Malawians merely have the responsibility to find lasting solutions to the “current” storm. He said that those that believe are perfect than others are even worse.
“God helps those that help themselves. Let’s work together to restore the peace that Malawi has always enjoyed. You Excellency, the DPP, the opposition, the NGOs, let’s extinguish the fire,” he said.
The Bishop concluded by reiterating that the Catholic Bishops and the clergy at large would continue to carry out their prophetic role by pointing out any ills that the society suffers under its rulers.
He said that they were always closer to the people and “they tell us what they feel,” saying he had accepted “wholeheartedly” when he was approached to give a sermon during the special prayers.
Giving his sermon in vernacular Chichewa, Pastor Frackson Kuyama of Seventh Day Adventist said by tradition and culture, Malawians are a peaceful people and urged on all Malawians to maintain peace and tranquility in the face of the current problems.
Reverend Malani Mtonga, Chairman of the Church Foundation for Integrity and Democracy (CFID) commended the clergy for organizing the prayers.
“This is what we’ve been advocating for as CFID that the way things have been going, Malawi needed divine intervention. It is only through prayer that we have authority over Satan to thwart his plans, put down his strongholds and release his captives,” he said when Nyasa Times sought his comment on the event.
Rev. Mtonga went on to say that prayer can change Malawi and can “open closed doors and that prayer can also make dictators to become democrats and that with prayer we can put down and raise up leaders”
The prayers were organized by the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) as a “moment of reflection on the turn of events surrounding July 20, 2011 public demonstrations”.
On that day, what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration regarding economic and governance issues was marred by court injunctions, violence, loss of lives and looting.