Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has expressed satisfaction with the strides the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity has made towards the establishment of the National Unity and Peace Commission.
ECM head of communications commission Bishop Montfort Stima expressed optimism that the Commission a pivotal role in promoting peace and unity among Malawians in spite of their diversity in political, regional, ethnic and religious affiliations.
Stima made the sentiments in a telephone interview soon after hosting the Minister of Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Mtambo, at his residence in Mangochi on Saturday.
Apparently, the bishop was interested to know how far the ministry has gone with paperwork on the creation of the Commission whose mandate will be to promote the sustenance of peace and unity among Malawians.
Recently, the quasi-religious grouping, Public Affairs Committee (PAC), asked government to ensure that there is support and political will if the proposed National Peace Commission Bill is to be successful in achieving sustainable peace and unity in the country.
Stima said during his discussion with Mtambo on Saturday; it was evident that the ministry has made significant progress in doing preparatory work before taking the Bill to the parliament.
“The creation of this is not just coming out of blues. The ministry had to move around and see what Malawians are lacking. There have been consultations. So, to come up with this body, it is not something that is born out of nothing. I am very positive about this and we will support any effort the government will take to see this Commission is established,” he said.
Stima said it is critically important that Malawians should have common values and this Commission could play a key role in achieving this.
He pledged that the Catholic Church in Malawi would support all the efforts aimed at putting legal and policy instruments within which the Commission will operate.
“For us, the support is there. If we are consulted, we are ready to provide support. But whatever this Commission would want to do, as a church, we are ready to support it because the society is completely rotten now. A lot of things are not in place. We are talking of corruption; attacks on the elderly, people butchering the elderly, people are stealing without feeling that is a sin. We feel this Commission will play a crucial role in addressing some of these moral decays,” added the bishop.
Mtambo said he was excited with the level of commitment and interest from the church towards the creation of the Commission.
He said the Commission will also be key in pushing the transformative national values, bringing back the lost glory among Malawians and to build a disciplined and responsible society, which he said speaks well with the agenda the ministry is promoting.
“I am very excited that the Catholic bishops have pledged to support us, knowing that they have a wider voice across the country. But we appeal for more collaboration from other stakeholders,” he said.
Stima and Mtambo also took time to discuss matters of national interest. These include the proposal to have Day of National Unity and Cultural Heritage in building social cohesion, the need to reintroduce civics subject in schools.
Stima felt the reintroduction of civics in schools would be a long-term civic education that will empower citizens with knowledge on their roles and responsibilities from their tender age.
“We also discussed issues surrounding Covid-19 and how the church and government can collaborate to end the pandemic. As a ministry, we lamented about the resistance among Malawians to adhere to the Covid-19 preventive measures. There is too much resistance. So, it should be all the stakeholders doing the civic education, not only the ministry, which is coordinating the initiatives,” said Mtambo.
At the International Day of Peace recently, PAC Chairperson, Monsignor Patrick Thawale, lamented that the country has, for long, demonstrated that it is capable of coming up with good policies and pieces of legislation that do not equally translate to success on the ground.
He cited, for instance, the 2017 National Peace Policy and the National Peace Architecture, which he said, have this far translated to minimal impact on the ground.
“One major area of concern that the new government has to take care of is political will to implement policies and ideas such as this proposed bill. We always come short when implementing what is on the paper and that comes about usually due to lack of political will,” said Thawale.
Thawale added that the Commission, once established, should be free from political influence if it is going to achieve the intended purpose of achieving sustainable peace.
“We have good institutions and structures for good governance in Malawi. However, the ability of such bodies to execute their roles effectively is affected by the influence of politicians. For example, Police is not fully independent and empowered,” Thawale added.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :