5 February 2018

Tanzania: Bury Nasty Past, Turn Over New Leaf... President Magufuli Urges Religious Leaders

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has called for forgiveness amongst religious leaders, stressing that whatever happened in the past should be forgotten, to create room for attention to be focused on the present and the future.

Dr Magufuli said because human beings depended on their religions to soften their hearts and minds, it was similarly important to encourage forgiveness and resolve conflicts that create divisions amongst worshippers. He was speaking shortly after prayers that climaxed the ordainment of Reverend Canon Jackson Sosthenes Jackson as the new Dar es Salaam Diocese Bishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT), to replace Dr Valentino Mokiwa.

Besides the President and First Lady Janeth Magufuli, other dignitaries who witnessed the event at the Upanga-based ACT in Dar es Salaam, included former president Benjamin Mkapa and ex-Chief Justice Judge (rtd) Augustino Ramadhan. Others were Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, and former prime minister Judge Joseph Warioba.

In attendance, too, were some Cabinet ministers. Although he did not refer directly to the recent religious conflicts pitting Dr Mokiwa and the ACT-Dar es Salaam diocese, Dr Magufuli reiterated that the attendance of many worshippers at the event was an encouraging indication that the conflict had been resolved all the differences buried once and for all.

Quoting various biblical verses, Dr Magufuli asked the newly ordained leader of the Dar es Salaam diocese to embrace forgiveness and refrain from any acts of revenge. He furthermore urged him to heal rifts and divisions within the church so as to remain united for best interests of the church and the nation at large. "Let us pray together against these differences resurfacing, our presence here has demonstrated that we have won the battleand that Satan has been defeated," the President remarked, adding that everybody should emulate the love of Jesus Christ who was crucified and died on the cross for the sake of other children of God.

Wrangles within Anglican Church started last year after ACT Archbishop Dr Jacob Chimeledya served Dr Mokiwa with a letter pushing for the latter's resignation over allegations of abuse of office. The former bishop of the Dar es Salaam diocese was asked to step down over alleged failure to assist in an investigation over alleged fraud amounting to over 200m/- in connection with a special account opened at the Dar es Salaam Commercial Bank (DCB).

The bishop was accused of failing to supervise church assets in collaboration with other church organs by allowing the leasing of 200 hectares of land in an allegedly shoddy contract. At the ordainment ceremony yesterday, the former ACT Archbishop, Donald Mtetemela, said a conflict was still simmering within the Dar es Salaam diocese, urging the new bishop to pursue it as a big problem loudly crying out for settlement.

"You are taking up your new leadership role when there are still wrangles within the church but you should know that you need to offer your leadership in a church that has God's love," he insisted.

The retired bishop said the nasty goings-on reflected were the machinations of Satan, who always created conflicts to ruin the work of God. He added that for a church to remain firm, it required to embrace proper responsibility so that its leaders could have moral authority to point accusing fingers at immoral tendencies. In his remarks, Dr Chimeledya took a swipe at some people who were misusing the church to paint a bad image to the community.

"I request State organs to intervene by investigating the registration documents of institutions that are tarnishing the image of our church," he said. In his speech, the newly appointed and later ordained bishop of the Dar es Salaam diocese exuded confidence that he was set for a new direction and vision that would make the church prosper in undertaking the work of God.

The 41-year-old cleric asked his followers to join forces with him towards protecting the interests of the church and the nation at large.


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