Malawi leader JB, foe PM shakes hands at national prayers

Malawi President Joyce Banda (JB) and her bitter rival, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) acting president Peter Mutharika (PM), shook hands for the first time in public on Wednesday during special prayers for the nation in Lilongwe.

The two leaders met in Lilongwe at in the Bingu International Conference Centre during the day of national prayers which brought together people from different dominations and political parties held under the theme ‘a nation seeking God for good rainy season and blessings.’

As the prayers were in progress, one preacher asked the delegates to greet and wish each other good luck and this saw President Banda shaking hands with Mutharika.

The handshake  came after  Malawi’s leading print media house Nation Publications Limited (NPL) published opinion poll results that  Mutharika will win the 2014 elections against President Banda.

The survey’s results announced in last Sunday’s Nation on Sunday said in the week-long-nationally representative survey, the majority of Malawians said that if elections were held today, they would vote for the DPP president.

But Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane accused the media house of taking a political stand by endorsing Mutharika.

Nhlane told Nyasa Times that NPL has the tendency of “always endorsing presidential aspirants”, saying the trend began when himself worked with NPL from 1998 as editor for the Weekend Nation in which the publication endorse Dr Bakili Muluzi for 1999 elections in which he went on to be re-leected.

Divine intervention

Speaking at the national prayers,  President Banda has asked the clergy to continue praying for the nation so that God heals Malawi’s economy among others.

“Our success depends on God and we need to pray hard,” she said.

“I believe God is on our side and with him all things are possible. Despite the challenges that Malawi as a nation is facing, we need to thank God for everything and stand together,” said Banda.

The President read a verse from the Bible Joshua 1:1-9 which she says it always inspires her as a leader. The verse talks of advice which God gave Joshua when he took over from Moses after his death while the people of Israel had lost hope to reach the Promised Land.

“Between 2003-2004 Malawi was where it is now economically but it was rescued. But each time I ask myself why did God  choose me to be a President at such a critical time. I give thanks to the Lord because I believe all things are possible and happen for a reason,” Banda said.

During his sermon, Bishop Gilford Matonga asked Malawian as a nation to repent so that God should hear its prayers.

He said God wants people who are humble and have accepted there sins.

“We must fore sake our sins, we must stop corruption, injustice, stealing and even prostitution and go to the Lord with humility. That’s when the Lord will answer our prayer because our Lord is the lord who forgives,” Matonga preached.

Sheikh Twaha Saidi asked God to bless Malawi on the Lake Malawi issue. He said it was only God who knew the exact truth of the issue.

Speaking on behalf of the officiating clergy, Reverend Davidson Chifungo of CCAP Nkhoma Synod said prayer is the only answer to the needs of the nation.

“As a faith community, we believe prayer is the only answer to the needs of the nation and that is why we are asking God to give us a fruitful rainy season and a season of plenty. Our economy is agro- based and we need good rains so that we have enough food as a country,” said Chifungo.

Some of the notable figures present at the prayers include former official hostess Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira and Brigadier Cosgrove Mituka (retired).

The prayers were held in English, Chichewa and Tumbuka. They were spiced up by choruses, choirs and hymns.

Offerings for the day which amounted to over K200, 000 went to Malingunde School for the Blind.

National day of prayers at Bingu Conference center – pic by Lisa Vintulla
All church leaders were gathered together at Bingu conference Center to pray for the good rains and bumper harvest – pic by Lisa Vintulla

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