Churches are unable to pronounce themselves on governance misdemeanors in the country as some are captured by some politicians said the motor-mouthed Reverend Lukas Katenda of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of Namibia.
Over the past months, the public has critiqued religious entities over its silence on matters of national interest such as corruption and the current state of the economy. Some have made allegations the very same churches are in bed with politicians hence are unable to speak out against their own kind.
Just like some denominations would speak out on social issues like gender-based violence and crime, the public expects the church to take the podium on important issues such as corruption and how some of the politicians, who on Sundays go to church, have brought the country to the current state.
Speaking to Katenda this week, the reverent lifted the veil from his observation saying some churches are caught between pleasing the pockets of some politicians versus doing what they ought to do. Katenda said at the moment, the church has a crisis of identity between themselves.
“As harsh as it may sound, the church at the moment is fighting a battle of maintaining its roots and serving the Namibian nation. If one is Anglican, they are more interested in Anglicanism and the British ties and little about the nation. It is the same with the Catholics who are more concerned about the Pope and what Italy says than serving the people in the country at hand” he said adding that the churches have to identify themselves as Namibian churches and only then will they speak on corruption.
Making reference to the churches role in the liberation struggle, Katenda questioned researchers to dig up what really prompted church leaders then to unite, something that is not evident today. Katenda added that back then churches went as far as establishing the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) which in his view has lost relevance today.
“It is now an open secret that they can’t operate because the enemy is no longer there. Apartheid is no longer here and the white man is no longer in charge. Now it is our own brothers who are in charge. And when they come to the funerals and weddings, they have a lot to bring at home so who am I now to stand up against them. That is the crisis we are facing. They cannot stand up against their own.”
“The same people who are stealing from government go to church on Sundays and the pastors are quiet. Here the churches are captured by some of the politicians.”
Katenda also touched on the Russian land deal fiasco saying those who dealt with the matter did not consider the country’s interest.
“The land in Namibia belongs to the Namibians first. It does not matter who comes up with theories on how to deal with land. It does not matter who owns a farm. It belongs to the Namibians. We cannot allow our land to be rented out by foreign people for 99 years.
It is not good and we are setting a wrong precedence here. If we do not know history, we will repeat it. Back then our people gave land away just because they were given alcohol.”
“Corruption is a question of bad leadership. If you are a leader, a leader should be selfless. It would be a sad state of affairs to have a man who is just having children all over and unable to take care of his children, yet in government he wants to tell us that he is an upright person.”
Secretary General of the CCN Ludwig Beukes also weighed in, saying churches need to do enough. The Russian land deal comes in the wake of the second Land Conference which was going to be seen as the end of foreigners owning land and playing out the one citizen for one farm card.
“We wonder now, with such a good conference and such things came up, was this conference just a show-off thing or a real one?
These things create mistrust between the church and the State. Generally, people are concerned and when the churches do not speak, people start to conclude. The concern is coming long. And we will try to walk that path of speaking out,” said Beukes.