The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) will field strong elections monitors and observers to ensure there are no loopholes for irregularities, says its executive board.
Meeting at ZUC Lodge in Balaka, the nine strong board emphasized the need for the church to ensure a free and fair electoral process starting from registration and political campaigning so that the electoral result come 2014 polls is transparent and credible.
“We are disturbed that already some eligible voters were not able to register due to material and timing challenges and also that there are challenges within the church where some clergy show partisanship. We ask on all our member churches and the entire clergy to avoid statements and actions that show partisanship. We must only encourage the flock to register and vote and to do this peacefully,” expressed Chairperson Rev. Alex Maulana.
The MCC is implementing an elections program under its governance project funded by Norad under the Interfaith Elections Initiative (IEI) of the Norwegian Church Aid consortium. The MCC also emphasized the need for churches to impart love for one another amongst the political players and within the board and church themselves.
“Politicians and almost everyone else belongs to some faith. We must therefore use the pulpit to preach love and peace despite the diverse political parties and ideologies our congregants prefer. We are one church and let us embrace all as God’s children,” he advised.
The Council has since set aside an Elections Committee that will engage the electoral process and follow up and investigate on related issues, including the so-called Israeli mentored Nikuv rigging system as was allegedly employed in the Zimbabwe Harmonised Elections of August this year.
Activities outlined include training of monitors and observers, consultative meetings with stakeholders including political party leadership on need of issue based and peaceful campaigning, media engagement and elections results opinion. As a member of SADC region’s Fellowship of Church Councils in Southern Africa (Foccisa), the Council has also invited fellow church groups to come and be part of the foreign church observers for added value.
“We took part in observer mission in Zimbabwe and discovered a number of things that are used to the detriment of the election result and this has taught us of the areas to watch out for. Also we hope our colleagues will join us for a strengthened voice. We also hope to be part of the Foccisa team in Swaziland elections to further draw lessons,” explained General Secretary Rev. Dr. Osborne Joda-Mbewe, whose organisation was one of the three civil society organisations awarded by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for outstanding electoral governance work.
The IEI is comprised of the MCC, Episcopal Conference of Malawi’s (ECM) Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) which embraces the Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM) and the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM). DanChurch Aid (DCA) provides technical support.