When the Reverend Maurice Munthali retired from CCAP Synod of Livingstonia in November, it was said that he had joined Allince for Democracy (Aford). However, it appears he has found a political nest in Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Could the outspoken religious leader be another political nomad in the making? Our Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor JOSEPH MWALE caught up with the clergyman.
Why have you joined MCP?
I had to listen to the will of the people, the voice of the constituents and they want me to do so. If go against what they want, I am not going to vote myself into office. I am dealing with people who have the vote. They would like to see something happening to them and through which political party. So I had to bow down to the pressure and the will of the people of Rumphi West.
Did you consult the constituents on your decision to leave Aford to join MCP?
I am not saying everybody, every household, every individual, told me this. But you weigh the wind. You can gauge the common stand of the people of the constituency. The decision to be in MCP was very consultative in nature and I had to come up with a decision that was not of my own. I had to take the decision of the people on the ground. So, here I am and for your information, my consultation went up as high as Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe himself.
What was the advice from Chikulamayembe?
If the whole Paramount Chief advises you that if you went this way it would be better; if you chose this vehicle it would be better; it is better you listen to the people; so what else can you do apart from listening to the one who holds the views of the people? He is the custodian of not only our culture in this part of the country, but a man of authority. So why should I go against a man of authority such as my own Paramount Chief?
You might be just another political fortune-seeker, aren’t you?
I am not a political fortune-seeker. I am not like that. It is not like that. Aford came to ask me to join them. Then the Paramount Chief and the whole constituency said because they have asked you and you have also said yes, go, we will support you. But that was in April. Since then, people have been speaking. People have been analysing issues, wanting to see how the future looks like with them and with Malawi. So it is not like dumping the party per se. It is about what the people say I should do and I think that is what is lacking in some of our leaders because they will either say I consulted, yet they didn’t consult or they will consult people and they will do another thing that they were not told to do.
It seems you did not accept Aford with all your heart, did you?
No. I have to be honest with you. I accepted Aford with all my heart by listening to the people’s request. It is with the same listening to their voice that I go to MCP. I cannot say no. Who is going to vote for you if you say no. You cannot force yourself to Parliament. You have to listen to what people say. So let it not be seen as if I have dumped the party. No. The party is still there but it is just that the people of Rumphi West have advised me to be in this vehicle—MCP.
QWhat do you say to the alternative view that you have left Aford because there are problems in the party.
No. I think that should be the question given to those who are advising me on the ground. To say what is it that has made them to advise me to go to MCP. Sometimes, you cannot dwell on what has happened in Aford because this thing is happening in every party. There are some disagreements and quarrels even power struggles. These things happen in every party. So you cannot run away from a house because there is something wrong. No. Then I will also have to run away from MCP or wherever I will go. It’s not that. In fact, I can even help to put things well in Aford. I am here. I am a reverend. I can help any time. For 34 years in the CCAP Livingstonia Synod until I retired, I have been going through challenges but I never ran away from a congregation. I was moderator of the synod, I was deputy general secretary of the synod, I was also Public Affairs Committee (PAC) publicist. There were challenges everywhere. There are even challenges in my home. You can’t run away from challenges. This world is full of challenges.
When you were in Aford, did you try to help solve the disputes?
Aford knows that we were there to help the party. Although I might have done little, I was doing something to help. However, in the process you are told: “Can you take this ticket?” So should I say no? Let me underscore that I am not running away from a problem. I will find them anywhere I go.
Why should a reverend like you go into partisan politics?
I have to be clear on that. Apart from freedom of association and freedom of speech, we believe in our Bible which says in Matthew chapter 5 Verse 13 that we are the salt of the world. We are the light of the world. If we feel that the world is in darkness, then it is our role and our calling that we should go where darkness is so that we can show light. I am not saying I am the one who is going to make the whole difference. But I am saying that all believers should take it upon themselves that politics is their calling and that is also where believers can make a difference.