5 February 2018

Tanzania: Stop Dividing the Faithful, Says JPM

Photo: The Citizen Tanzania
The South Eastern Diocese Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), Dr Lucas Mbedule

Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday called for peace and harmony among religious fraternities in Tanzania, saying conflicts in churches and mosques were dividing people, thereby posing a challenge for the government's top leadership.

Gracing the event to install the Reverend Jackson Sosthenes as the fifth Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Tanzania during a special ceremony that took place at Upanga in Dar es Salaam, President Magufuli urged the new prelate to resolve extant conflicts, and ensure that no new conflicts arise.

"The government is fully committed to partnering with all religious organisations in efforts to improve the lives of all Tanzanians," said the President, adding: "But this can be achieved through the elimination of seemingly endless conflicts which mire the Church." Wrangles within the Anglican Church started early last year after the Church's Archbishop of the day, Dr Jacob Chimeledya, tendered his resignation to former bishop of the Dar es Salaam Diocese, Dr Valentino Mokiwa.

Among other things, the diocese leader alleged that Dr Mokiwa refused to assist a special committee formed to investigate fraud involving a Sh200 million special account at Dar es Salaam Commercial Bank (DCB).

He also accused Dr Mokiwa of failing - along with other church organs under his wing - to properly supervise church assets by, for example, allowing the leasing of 200 hectares of church property in what is seen as shoddy contractual arrangements. Bishop Sosthenes replaces Dr Mokiwa who was deposed recently after he refused to resign in the wake of a corruption probe at the Diocese of Dar es Salaam, which he headed.

In responding to the developments, President Magufuli counseled the newly installed prelate in Solomonic mode.

"I request you (Bishop Sosthenes) to end this conflict - and try to forgive rather than engage in vengeance," the president urged in earnest.

Bishop Sosthenes promised to bring new hope within the Diocese by devoting much effort to ending ongoing conflicts. This would help protect and uphold the church's reputation in the eyes of its adherents and the general public, he said.

Outlining his priorities, the prelate revealed that, among other things, he will protect the Diocese's assets through the church's constitution and the country's laws and regulations.

He would also work on improving the church's advisory organs.

Bishop Sosthenes took the opportunity to request President Magufuli to help in the return of Minaki Secondary School to the church, and the acquisition of a power generator for the church's hospital in Buguruni, Dar es Salaam, for use in emergency situations exacerbated by grid power cuts.

Besides First Lady Janet Magufuli, other prominent guests who attended the special mass at Saint Alban's Church in Dar es Salaam were Retired President Benjamin Mkapa, Retired Prime Minster Joseph Warioba and the Chief of Defence Forces, General Venance Mabeyo.

Others were the Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, the Commissioner for Immigration, Dr Anna Makakala, and the Minister of State in the President's Office (Public Service and Good Governance), Mr George Mkuchika.


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