|22. June 2009
Namibia: Church Alliance to Play Role in Peaceful Elections
A NEWLY established church alliance, which wants churches to play a more active role in ensuring peaceful election campaigns, on Thursday held a meeting to discuss voter education and election observation.
In March this year, the Southern African Christian Initiative (Sachi) held its first meeting and several Namibian churches signed a 'Church Leaders' Declaration on Elections'.
The aim of the declaration is to deepen understanding of the role of democracy, peaceful campaigning and to increase voter education among parishes. Namibians will go to National and Presidential elections later this year.
The approximately 150 delegates on Thursday agreed that the understanding of Sachi's role and that of churches with regard to elections had to be strengthened in the country and also among member churches of the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN).
"Our aim is to stand for peace, truth, justice and not only help our church members in tolerating one another in their daily lives, but also when our country is facing the upcoming elections," said Reverend Abisai Shejavali, who chairs the Sachi steering committee.
"This is particularly after learning what had happened in the Zimbabwean and Kenyan elections as well as after experiencing the incidents that the political parties [in Namibia] had against each other in an intolerant spirit - remembering Eenhana, Omuthiya and Outapi events, Tobias Hainyeko [regional by-election] and thereafter," Shejavali said.
Samson Ndeikwila of the Forum for the Future (FFF) told delegates that in the Ohangwena Region funerals were being used increasingly as political platforms by certain political parties.
"Families and friends are being divided through this, some people don't even want to sit next to others in church due to such [political] divisions," he said.
Ndeikwila requested the Sachi steering committee to hold a workshop for church leaders and traditional leaders in the Ohangwena Region about this issue.
Delegates heard that the work of the new church alliance had raised awareness already, as the CCN had invited all political parties to a meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by most parties.
It was decided to send a Sachi delegation to former President Sam Nujoma to "inform him what Sachi was doing".
Nujoma has in recent weeks lashed out at some churches at two different occasions.