The Episcopal Conference of Malawi, an umbrella body for the eight Catholic Dioceses in Malawi, having followed with keen interest the turn of events surrounding the current Tripartite Elections, wishes, through this statement, to make its humble but sincere contribution towards the building of our nation at this critical juncture.
What we have noted
We recognize that the road to the tripartite polls has been a mixed bag of preparatory successes and challenges resulting in doubts been cast on the levels of preparedness, the competence of the Malawi Electoral Commission and the credibility of the results;
We note that some logistical challenges resulted into some polling centres opening late and some other pockets of polling centres not actually voting on 20th May in so doing heightening the levels of impatience among some Malawian citizens;
We regret that in a few places the levels of frustration because of electoral related logistical challenges degenerated into ugly scenes of anarchy and violence;
We note with a sigh of relief that even in such a challenging operating environment, alternatives were found to allow Malawians exercise their right to vote on 21st and 22nd May;
We note and respect the sentiments that have so far been expressed by various political parties, the Malawi Electoral Commission and various stakeholders.
Our Call and Our Appeal
We the Catholic Bishops, realizing and reiterating the significance of elections to our nation 50 years after independence and considering as well that this is the only time that Malawians have to elect or re-elect leaders who will transform Malawi
We call for timely, effective and efficient delivery of electoral results that will sustain public confidence in the electoral process;
We call for continued patience, peace and calm from all electoral stakeholders and Malawi citizens in general to create an enabling environment in which the Malawi Electoral Commission releases the official results of the polls;
We call upon all Malawians to refrain from any confrontational, defensive and uncompromising language and allow room for genuine reason, faith and dialogue;
We categorically discourage violence as means of settling differences of our frustrations with the challenges the electoral processes are facing and encourage everybody to give room and space for dialogue and mediation.
As we reminded you all through our recent pastoral letter and as our national anthem always reminds us, let us ask God to bless mother Malawi and keep it the land of peace. We are mindful of the command of the Risen Lord, “Peace is what I leave you, it is my own peace that I give you…..” (John 14:27. We need peace supported by patience to allow the Malawi Electoral Commission to officially release the results.
We reiterate the advice we gave to winners and losers in the same Pastoral Letter:
We would like to remind those that will emerge victorious after the elections of their enormous responsibility to turn around our national woes and take this nation forward. As such, they will celebrate their victory with a sense of humility. They will do this nation a lot of good if they exercise servant leadership, being “last of all and servant of all” (Mk. 9:35, Mat. 20:24 -28), and not narrowly be interested in serving people of their own party or region or ethnicity. Those who lose the elections should accept the results gracefully and quickly turn their energies towards building this country. (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, par.4.2.5 p.17)
We pray that the peace and calm that has been characteristic of Malawi as a nation will continue to prevail in our country and that justice and peace will continue to embrace in our midst.
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mukasa Zuza
Chairman – Episcopal Conference of Malawi