Written by Arnold Namanja
Mangochi, March 28, 2017: Government has called on religious leaders in the country to support government in her development programmes to accomplish her mission of making Malawi a progressive nation.
President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika made the call on Monday at Chikoko Bay in Mangochi when he held an audience with different religious leaders from the Eastern Region comprising Ntcheu, Balaka, Mangochi, Machinga and Zomba districts.
The President said the faith community could play a significant role in championing different development programmes being spearheading by government through the masses they serve spiritually.
He appealed for meaningful support from faith leaders on the understanding that without their contribution the country’s vision and mission of becoming a prosperous nation would be realized.
“Much as government is doing its part in fulfilling its obligations in providing for people in the area of various social amenities potable water and community technical colleges, religious leaders were supposed to provide spiritual and social guidance to their flock realize meaningful development,” Mutharika emphasized.
He encouraged the faith leaders to instill a sense of morality among people of different religious persuasions to respect those in authority, lamenting that the country was losing its moral direction especially with advent of social media where; ‘nobody respects anyone else.’
Mutharika observed that the country going through a serious moral corruption where gossip, bad social media, lies about each other, wondering why people would celebrate when something bad occurred to another person.
“As a nation we are becoming morally bankrupt as such I guess it is the responsibility of pastors and sheikhs to guide people to restore the dignity that Malawi is known for,” he said, confessing that sometimes as political leaders they make mistakes not by design but because of poor judgment.
He appealed to the religious leaders to advocate for the three pillars of national development as espoused by the country’s leadership bordering on hard work, patriotism and integrity.
Mutharika outlined some of the development initiatives that government has lined up for the Eastern Region and the country as a whole, citing the successful completion of construction of 15, 000 houses under the decent accommodation and housing subsidy programme, attraction of foreign direct investors and upgrading of Kamwamba in Neno coal powered energy generation which would supply 300 mega watts to the electricity grid.
On corruption, Mutharika said some of the stories making rounds in the country were not true and somewhat exaggerated, saying he does not personally tolerate corruption which derails development.
“It is not true that government is making work of ACB and other corruption busting agencies difficult but as you has seen in recent developments that some officers and politicians have been probed and arrested on corruption related cases.
“There has been repeated calls for the arrest of seven Cabinet Ministers whose names have been not released by those claiming to be in know of such corrupt practices – we are not shielding anyone. Let me have the names and I will take the necessary action,” he challenged.
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire, Right Reverend Brighton Malasa promised to pray for the country’s leadership and the government, noting that religious leaders and politicians work in partnership to develop the country.
“As you have rightly said as a church, we don’t only look at the spiritual aspect of the human being but also the social and physical part like in education, health and agriculture to effectively complement government in development,” he said.
Malasa commended government for creating an enabling environment where freedom of worship thrives unlike in other countries where turmoil and animosity was the order of the day.
“In other countries people go to places of worship with a lot of fear which is not the case here where we are free to the extent of conducting overnight prayers,” the Bishop said, calling for unity and continued religious co – existence.
Malasa warned other political leaders from mobilizing ad instigating people to engage in violent demonstrations, saying such actions were detrimental to the country’s development process. He said any effective leadership requires the support of its citizens including religious leaders.
Secretary General for the Muslim Association of Malawi, Sheikh Dinala Chabulika commended President Mutharika for his self – less spirit which accommodates all manner of people without regard to their religious affiliation.
“That spirit is demonstrated when you want to reach out to Moslems or Christians without any difference with support provided whenever requested being uniform/equal,” he said.