The Malawi Interfaith Aids Association (MIAA) has expressed disappointment with opposing and misleading messages coming from prophets who are propagating that coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic is nonexistent.
MIAA board chairperson Bishop Gilford Matonga feared such messages have the potential to confuse Christians and cause them to stop observing Covid-19 prevention measures.
Matonga made the remarks in Lilongwe on Thursday during a meeting MIAA organized in conjunction with the Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids (MANET+) for faith leaders on Covid-19. The meeting drew participants from various faith groups, including the Prophetic Ministries Association of Malawi (PROMAM).
He said as faith leaders, they must realize that their calling is too high for them to present misinformation to the masses on issues that are affecting them.
“We have been called upon to preserve the dignity of God’s principles first and only. We, as religious leaders, must avoid to be driven by personal praise and hand-clapping. This pandemic must present us with the opportunity to teach our masses messages of hope through promoting behaviours that should ensure their safety and protection,” he said.
Matonga stressed that preaching to people that there is no Covid-19 and that being diagnosed with the disease is a manifestation of lack of faith is not only being untruthful, but also dangerous.
“Men and women of God, we must desist from influencing people to be comfortable without prevention during this pandemic and be thinking that preventive measures are not God inspired. Scientific knowledge is, in fact, inspired by God and therefore adherence to the Covid-19 preventive measures is an obligation of a true believer,” he said.
On the other hand, Matonga stated that 53.8 percent of religious institutions in Malawi are experiencing significant financial difficulties and this has relatively affected the church’s ability to support her operations, including paying staff members.
But the meeting did not go without drama as PROMAM president, Senior Prophet Justice Hara, lashed out at the government for sidelining the association in its activities and programmes.
Hara cited the recent gazetted guidelines for fighting Covid-19, which he said, were made without their input.
He warned that as an association, it has a large following, which it can influence either to support or thwart interventions that the government develops in the fight against the pandemic.
“Do not despise the wisdom of the fools in their majority. We are in majority and we have thousands and thousands of people who are following us. Even in those in the State, we control. We refuse to be taken for granted. We are a mother body. We are all concerned. But we are saying: we need to be consulted. Why did you leave out PROMAM?” he asked.
“Mkufuna kutipeperesa. Ndiye sitikufuna tipepere nawo. AYI! We are a separate and independent mother body. We have got prophets from across the country. We have the power within our capacity to disseminate information very well.
“We have heard that some mother bodies have received money from the government. ECM [Episcopal Conference of Malawi] has received K46 million while the Synod [Nkhoma Synod of the CCAP] has got K40 million for implementation of Covid-19 interventions. Where is the money for PROMAM? We are not fake leaders. Vilekeke vilekekerekethu! Takwiya pano!” fumed Hara.
In his response, Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs, Reverend Brian Kamwendo, while acknowledging the concerns raised by the association, dismissed as “untrue” that the government had given out money to main religious mother bodies.
Kamwendo said there was no way the government could support a few churches to respond to the pandemic.
“Be assured that no church has received money from the government. However, I should emphasize here that I have taken note of your concerns and I will forward them to the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19,” he assured.
Kamwendo also took advantage of the plenary session to advise PROMAM to address leadership issues in their body, stressing that the government has been recognizing Prophet David Mbewe as the sitting chairperson of the association.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :