Malawi needs more clerics in frontline politics

Browsing Malawi Facebook pages and posts, there are some postings and comments that imply that some people see something wrong with “Men of God” seeking to serve in public offices, especially and surprisingly after Dr  Lazarous Chakwera’s offer to serve Malawi.

I do not want to believe that we should restrict “men and women of the devil” to political leadership on the grounds that “politics is dirty” and that serving God as a leader is against the principle of rendering unto Caesar what is due to Caesar.

I beg to differ with this line of thought because the very thought that men of God should have nothing to do with active leadership, is erroneous, even by Christian standards and if we try, we will find a lot kingdoms in which men of God played an active role and when righteousness thrived, such kingdoms excelled.

Before going into the depth and width of this discourse, we need – first – to define the job that the so called “politicians” are supposed to perform, on our behalf. This, in my view, is to provide sound, fair, visionary, sacrificial and servant leadership.

Rev Dr Chakwera: Aspiring to be MCP president
Rev Dr Chakwera: Aspiring to be MCP president

The challenge in Malawi, and with most of us, is that the “political leadership” we have seen comes nowhere close to providing sound, fair, visionary, sacrificial and servant leadership.

And hence we have grown to think “looting”, “corruption” and “foul-mouthing,” are what politics is all about.

We have seen and we continue to witness men and women, going about pretending to have the welfare of the ordinary man and woman at heart, when all they are doing is amassing personal and family riches, without being accountable to anyone.

Given this background, it seems inconceivable and outright haraam for a “righteous people” to serve in a political office.

But, if we go by the politicians job description being to provide sound, fair, visionary, sacrificial and servant leadership; then the active involvement of men of God in politics fits like a stamp does to a letter.

What everyone who cares about Malawi seems to agree is that if Malawi is to develop, we need to change the rules of the game.

If we all agree to this, the next obvious step finding a “game changer” or better still, “game changers” – the more the better.

And having seen the April 2012 transition that came without any sustainable and meaningful change, save for the person in the driver’s seat; every Malawian should now admit that Lucius Banda was on song when he sang “Anthuwa ndi amodzi”.

Indeed, politicians, never mind their affiliation of a particular day or season, are birds of a feather – masquerading as servants during election time, and becoming deaf soon as they are in power.

Kamulepo Kaluwa, in a rare bout of wisdom, was not wrong to intone: “fisi ndi fisi loko asinthe tchire.” Therefore, juggling Mr. or Mrs. so-so from party X to party Y, and vice versa; is not the solution.

We need new people in the system. We need game changers.

Malawi is crying for untainted and principled people that will inject new ideas and lead Malawi. How else can they do this if we bar some members of society, using the faith and ministry, from serving in public offices.

If we want to see genuine transformation, this, I contend, is the way to go.

Just as is said “chokoma chimachokera ku dzira”; we cannot expect a mango tree to give us apples; mango trees will only give us mangoes, bwannonis will hatch other bwannonis and bonya will breed bonya.

It is against the background, that I personally hold that Malawi needs leaders with integrity and that Malawi needs upright leaders; and that we need leaders of the caliber of the Biblical Daniel, who served – with distinction and at the highest level – in the government of King Nebuchadnezzar.

For the ‘non-believing Christians’ still doubting the wisdom behind among others Dr Lazarus Chakwera’s momentous decision, I will quote verbatim from the Bible:

“Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the chief ministers and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the chief ministers and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” – Daniel 6:4&5 (NIV).

Moving to more recent secular times, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was again, a “man of God” serving as a minister of the Baptist Church. But, he offered his service to the nation of America when mere preaching from the pulpit had failed to move America forward with respect to Civil Rights.

Mere preaching and his strong faith could not have conquered the injustice, segregation and oppression that was rampant in America at that time.

Here in Malawi, Rev. John Chilembwe is remembered, not because of any powerful sermon he preached at any mountain, no; but rather because he abandoned his cassock to lead the uprising against an oppressive government.

Today, we laud his decision by letting his face grace our currency. If this act from Rev John Chilembwe is worth setting a day aside to commemorate his contribution; what is the basis for the exclusion of clerics some people are trumpeting? What is wrong with Dr Lazarus offering his services to a political office?

Some people fear that it is impossible for a human being “to serve to masters at once”. Let me put it this way: how many gods were Moses, Daniel, David, Joseph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. John Chilembwe serving?

If you now you Bible and history right, even when these people presided over secular matters, their righteousness was literally God-sent.

All these points more than prove that preaching, preaching and preaching even spiced with the occasional pastoral letters, when push comes to shove do not count in the long run.

Take a look at the letter: “Living our Faith” which brought change in 1992. Did the change save Malawi from the mediocrity of 1994-2004 and the horror movie of 2004-2011 that left, in a space of 48 hours, twenty young men dead?

And again, what is the wisdom of giving blank cheques to proven plunderers, by way of granting them an exclusive political quota in Malawi now when it is crystal clear transformational leadership is the missing piece of the jigsaw?

To conclude, since most of the commentators are citing the Bible, I will cite the same to close my case. It is meaningless for men and women of God to be barking on the sidelines, and praying for change in Malawi without sacrificing to actively contributing towards that change.

For those who are Christians, James 2:14-26 – “Faith without Works is dead” contains wisdom worth pondering.

In closing my case, I submit that welcoming Dr Lazarus Chakwera and other willing men and women of God into politics, is not only the way to go, but long overdue. Righteous women and men, from all walks of life, faiths, tribes, and what have you, should be encouraged to grace frontline politics to spearhead the change that we want to be.

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