Centre for Social Concern launches Interreligious Dialogue/Conflict Management Project in Mangochi

Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has launched a multimillion kwacha Interreligious Dialogue and Conflict Management Project in an effort to find lasting solutions to intolerance and conflicts between the Christian and Muslim communities in Malawi.

The Minister of National Unity Timothy Pagonachi Simbega Mtambo presided over the project launch, which took place in Mangochi on Thursday. The launch attracted religious leaders from different faith groups gathered, representatives of political parties and government officials.

Mtambo making a speech during the launch of the project in Mangochi–Photos courtesy of Collins Mpambira Chimera

CfSC is a Catholic-based organization that promotes research and action on social issues, linking the Christian faith and social justice. Over the years, the Centre has been implementing various projects and interventions to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence among Christians and Muslims in Malawi.

CfSC Executive Director Reverend Father Dr. James Ngahy said time had come for Christians and Muslims, particularly those living in Mangochi and other the Eastern Region districts, to bury their hatchets and allow tolerance and peaceful coexistence to reign in their communities.

Apparently, Eastern Region leads in cases of conflicts over political and religious differences.

Ngahy challenged that Malawi cannot achieve any meaningful development in the absence of peace and tranquillity.

“This project aims to promote tolerance among the ethno-religious groups, leading to peaceful coexistence within and without churches or mosques, and also peace and unity among the people before, during and after elections,” he said.

Minister Mtambo poses for a photo with CfSC officials and religious leaders after teh project launch

In his remarks, Mtambo observed that although relatively peaceful, Malawi continues to face “serious threats of disunity due to effects of climate change, growing gap between the rich and the poor, food insecurity and over access to natural resources”.

The minister added that the impact of global population, now at eight billion, youth unemployment, hostile political and religious ideologies, terrorism and violent extremism, armed conflicts and war also “pose serious threats to our survival”.

“These threats are creating an environment where social cohesion and stability are increasingly being eroded. Today, because we all realize that there can never be development in the absence of peace, the struggle for peace and unity is at the top of the governments, international organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector as well as civil society organizations.

“It is in pursuit of the vision of peace and unity, that the State President, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, resolved to establish the Ministry of National Unity, the first of its kind in the history of Malawi,” said Mtambo.

He said the incumbent government is progressively working to establish the necessary policy, legal and institutional framework to facilitate peaceful resolution to conflicts at various levels of society.

Mtambo (second from right) greets religious leaders before the project launch

The minister stressed that it is within the National Peace Policy, the Government of Malawi recently enacted the legal framework for peace and unity, the Peace and Unity Act (2022), which, among others, aims to provide for the establishment of a mechanism for fostering peace and unity in Malawi.

Mtambo therefore commended CfSC for initiating the project. He also thanked the Embassy of Ireland for providing financial and material support to the government and people of Malawi through the project.

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