Mushega: Religious Leaders Are Political Actors
There has been an ongoing debate as to whether religious leaders can comment or talk about what is going on in the country, referred to as politics.
Some religious leaders have gone on to say that politics should be left to politicians, asking the clergy to concentrate on the word of God and shepherd the flock.
"A doctor cannot be a mechanic," they've added.
Let us start with the notion that a doctor cannot be a mechanic, hence a religious leader cannot talk politics.
This approach is not only factually wrong, but also misleading. Jesus, was a healer, a chef, a carpenter, opposed wrong, including the hypocrites and corrupt leaders like Herod, and above all, associated with the poor and sinners, though he was holy.
The early missionaries and pioneers in Africa were simple builders, treated the sick, engaged in battles while at the same time preached the word of God.
They loved and worked to uplift the poor.
Lest we easily forget, one of the most effective archbishops the Church of Uganda has had, was originally a mechanic!
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in a Hadith (chronicles of his life) that "None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself."
When public resources are being plundered or spent on not-so-useful projects; when health centres run out of drugs and have no trained personnel; investment in agriculture and education are minimal; when billions are spent to buy unnecessary bicycles yet not even a kengele (bell) is delivered; is it proper for the religious leaders to keep quiet as if they live on Mars, and they and their flock are not affected by the consequences?
When people are killed by speeding buses because the leadership has opportunistically refused to implement and enforce the speed governor rule; when boda bodas kill and maim many who could have been saved had wearing helmets been made compulsory and road safety rules applied; when billions are spent just before elections to train "crime preventers" and "patriotic clubs" [which are] abandoned soon after; when demonstrators against graft are molested and even killed, accusing them of economic sabotage; when our revered investors uproot the rail slippers and smelt them as our 'ever alert' security officers look on; should only politicians talk?
The duty of government is not only to ensure 'peaceful sleep' but also save lives, protect property, ensure freedom of thought and treat all people with respect. In 1985, the late Bishop Magambo of Fort Portal successfully negotiated the surrender of the UNLA 34 battalion in Fort Portal led by Maj Okwera (RIP), thus saving many lives of the UNLA and NRA that would have been cut short.
I would like to know which politician has never gone to religious leaders at the time of elections, seeking support or which religious leader does not have a friend in government that briefs him on what is going on in the country. Why do political leaders swear by the Qur'an and the Bible?
My view is that religious leaders who have not yet chosen, should choose either to be on the side of plunderers of public resources or on the side of the victims of these heartless actions. "On which side would Jesus have been?" is what we should regularly ask ourselves.
When we were young, parents, teachers, the clergy and the community, espoused virtues of hard work and despised ill-gotten wealth, as President Museveni once said that he couldn't touch a thief, even with his long stick.
St Paul said to the Thessalonians: "We were not lazy when we were with you. We did not accept anyone's support without paying for it. We kept working day and night so as not to be an expense to any of you. We did it to be an example to you. We used to say to you, 'whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat'."
As a nation, we cannot afford to have those who don't toil amass wealth. We are not safe in a nation of one hundred billionaires and ten million paupers.
What are our values, what are our ethos?
How should Ugandans treat themselves? How should we value our fellow citizens? How should those in power, be they temporal or spiritual, value and treat those they purport to lead?
The author is former Secretary General of East African Community and FDC Vice President, Western Uganda.
By Nuwe Amanya Mushega, 4 May 2012
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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