A 25-year-old Apostolic youth has been elected vice-chairperson of the Malawi Network of Religious Leader Living with or Affected with HIV and Aids (Manerela+), probably signalling a paradigm shift for the faith that discourages its faithful from accessing medical care.
Shupie Promice Sibande, a young Mzimba girl will deputise President Joyce Banda’s special assistant on civil society issues the Reverend MacDonald Sembereka who went unopposed during elections at the body’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Lilongwe on Tuesday.
Other board members elected at the AGM, which was last held in 2009 include Pastor Anderson Mataka, Bishop Ephraim Disi, Pastor Philemon Kavala, Pastor Bright Chali, Sheikh Ismael Maulidi, Pastor Josophine Mwakanema and Earnest Kadzokoya.
“Today one of my dreams has been realised. I have always wanted to find someone I can mentor to take over from me at some point because I believe a leader who doesn’t groom a successor is dead,” said Sembereka in his acceptance speech.
Sibande in her two-minute campaign speech said: “Electing me into Manelera board will be killing two birds with one stone.”
“You saw that the outgoing board did not have a youth, but also, you realise that I am coming from a church that has long been seen as an outcast in issues of HIV and Aids [issues], but now we realide the importance of such issues,” she said.
Sibande congregates at The Gospel of God Church of Apostolic Faith, one of the churches that came into conflict with authorities for denying its children measles immunisation.
“This is an opportunity for Manerela + to reach out to members of my church with messages that would save lives,” said Sibande.
Manerela+ encourages use of the Save model in dealing with HIV and Aids where S stands for Safer practices, A for access to medication, V for voluntary testing and counselling and E for empowerment.