Faith leaders on Tuesday took the government to task for allegedly ambushing them on the rollout of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine, accusing the Capital Hill of imposing 'an already crafted script' on them.
Speaking in Lilongwe during his contribution during a top religious leaders orientation on Covid-19 vaccine and its acceptability in Malawi, president of the Prophetic Ministries Association of Malawi (PROMAM), Prophet David Mbewe, expressed disappointment with the way the government is handling issues surrounding the soon-to-be rolled out jab.
The Malawi Interfaith Aids Association organized the orientation meeting with funding from the Global Fund through Action and Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids (MANET+).
Mbewe wondered why the government had included them in the Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign while, at the same time, closing its door to divergent opinions from faith leaders.
"From the look of things, the government already had its plan laid out and it does want any input from us. That is the problem we have with this approach because, as faith leaders, we need to have a say on what needs to be done to have a successful vaccination campaign," said Mbewe.
However, Mbewe - who is the president and overseer of the Living Word Evangelical Church (LIWEC) and incumbent head of the Freedom of Worship Association of Malawi (FOWAM) - emphasized that churches are not against the administration of the vaccine on their followers.
"In fact, in my case, I have already started encouraging our followers to accept the vaccine to save their lives. I have also been to various religions such as Rastafarianism where I also emphasized the need for them to get vaccinated," he said.
FOWAM Public Relations Officer, Ras Jerafaya Geoffrey Phomea, cautioned the government against underestimating the influence of faith leaders, stressing that the success and failure of the exercise depends on the acceptability of the vaccine among them.
Phomea asked the government to seriously consider working with faith leaders in every step it takes towards the administration of the vaccine.
MIAA board chairperson Bishop Gilford Matonga said the meeting was organized to solicit views on what roles faith leaders can assume and play in the administration of the vaccination.
"We want to understand what is in the vaccine and above all, how, as religious leaders, can help in its campaign for acceptance," said Matonga.