With almost 20 months to go before the 2014 General elections, a senior official of the Synod of Livingstonia of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) has openly endorsed Vice President Joyce Banda as presidential candidate.
Deputy General Secretary of the Synod Reverend Maurice Munthali is reported to have made the statement during a church service the Veep attended at Zolozolo CCAP Church on Sunday.
“Of course, I expressed our best wishes to the Veep on behalf of the Synod but not necessarily that I endorsed her. We are impressed by her policies like the pledge to abolish the ‘quota system’ in the selection of university students. So, if some people take what I said as an endorsement, then so be it,” Munthali said.
But General Secretary for the Synod, Reverend Levi Nyondo, said as Synod of Livingstonia “we have not sat down to discuss this issue. It is the media who misrepresented the facts”.
“If someone comes to your house and you make your welcoming remarks that should not be taken as an endorsement. It was Reverend Munthali who was speaking in his personal capacity and not as the synod,” said Nyondo.
Asked why the synod has built a reputation of endorsing political parties after publicly pledging its support for the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in the run-up to the Rumphi Central bye-elections where the party failed to clinch the seat, Munthali defended the synod saying: “With PDM everyone knows that it was a whole different issue. The synod was very instrumental in the party’s formation hence we could not disown the party”.
However, Mzuzu-based political analyst Noel Mbowela asked the synod to tone down and assume the prophetic role of guiding its members spiritually and socially.
“Surely, the path that the synod has taken is directly opening up confrontation with government because it is like the synod has joined the opposition,” Mbowela said.
“The synod’s leadership should always avoid making such general statements which are subjective and controversial and could only bring chaos. The church is a place for people of different political inclinations and speaking like that would not only be undemocratic but also disastrous,” he said.
Reacting to the statement, General Secretary for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Elias Wakuda Kamanga asked the church to work for the unification of the populace which it ministers to.
“DPP as a ruling party continues to respect freedom of religion and that churches have a right to do what they feel is good as long as their conscience allows it. We feel churches should not divide but unite people but when they seem to have a different agenda it becomes unfortunate and dents church and state relations,” Kamanga said.
“Churches need to reposition themselves and refine their stand to enable people across the political divide to worship without being discriminated against,” he said.
Mbowela asked Malawians to be careful with some of the messages that church organizations may give out.
“I do not think Malawians should take Livingstonia Synod seriously in this matter. This is an individual’s point of view and, therefore, the synod should not allow such biased speeches to be made from the synod’s platform,” Mbowela said.