Nkhoma CCAP Synod, through its leadership, has issued a pastoral letter tackling issues affecting the country. In essence, the open letter has dwelled much on the failures of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government. Not only that, the tone of the epistle is wooing the masses to vote against the current leadership, evidenced by the choice of corruption cases. Much as I appreciate the content, the approach has defeated the purpose of such very important letters in the democratic dispensation, hence rendering it a mere opposition voice.
According to Qeko Jere and Vhumani Magezi, the critical dilemma with Pastoral Letters has been that those in government look at Pastoral messages as being part of the voice of the opposition, whereas those in opposition look at the Pastoral Letter’s message as targeting those in government. This is a serious problem in third world countries, and Malawi is not exceptional. Whenever a pastoral letter is released, the opposition celebrates while the government is left with bruises.
Such a scenario arises because of the carelessness and partisanship of the church leadership issuing a pastoral letter. In Malawi, architects and crafters of Pastoral Letters have, for years, focused on key areas that government is failing to deliver on; no or little attention has been given concerning the weakness of those in opposition. This has led government and those in authority not to take the content of Pastoral Letters seriously as both the Pastoral Letters and opposition tend to have the common language.
Therefore, if the Catholic Bishops, the Nkhoma CCAP Synod, the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia would want their Pastoral Letters to be more effective, they must address the weakness of both those in government and the opposition in equal measure so that both camps can add value in the development of the country. This is bearing in mind that the opposition is a government in waiting; hence, they have an equal role to play in providing checks and balances in state management.
Otherwise the 1992 pastoral letter will still remain the only letter that served and achieved its intended purpose. In democratic dispensation, pastoral letter must be a last resort; we must value contact and dialogue. This is not Kamuzu Banda’s regime when only the Dausis and the Ntaba had an access to conversation with presidency. The government has repeatedly say “the door is open for those who have solutions to the problems we are facing.”