Vote for politicians with integrity, religious leaders advise faithful

Eldoret Catholic Diocese head Dominic Kimengich

Eldoret Catholic Diocese head Dominic Kimengich who on June 25, 2022 said that Kenyans have in the past voted for leaders who failed them.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Religious heads have come out in the open to advise their followers on the kind of political leaders to be elected in August.

The pronouncements have blurred the line between religion and politics as clerics seek to influence President Uhuru Kenyatta’s succession.

Deputy President William Ruto of Kenya Kwanza alliance and Mr Raila Odinga of Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition party, have devised ways of attracting this huge constituency.

The religious leaders have, in turn, also made demands from the political chiefs, ranging from moral positions, the fight against corruption and peaceful campaigns.

Split

The clergy are split on their favourite presidential candidates.

Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah has been condemned by the Church, owing to his support of marijuana farming.

The Catholic Church urged its followers to reject leaders whose manifestos have “unethical” proposals, such as those that support abortion, liberalisation of sexual activities and promoting drugs use.

“Let us keep this in mind. For a nation to thrive, it must be founded on ethical and moral grounds,” Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria said, adding that Kenyans should interrogate leaders by looking at their public statements and what they stand for.

Prof Wajackoyah has been vocal in his intentions to legalise cannabis and encourage snake farming for venom export.

He says implementing the “ideals” would help settle Kenya’s huge public debt.

Eldoret Catholic Diocese head Dominic Kimengich Saturday said Kenyans have in the past voted for leaders who failed them.

Values and ethics

“We need leaders who can guide the nation based on values and ethics. We cannot have leaders who promote drug use. See what is happening in our schools because of drugs. We should not promote ideas that can destroy our young people,” Archbishop Kimengich said.

He said the General Election should provide Kenyans with an opportunity to vote for leaders with integrity, “not those who want to enrich themselves”.

“A leader must have moral, spiritual and financial integrity. We cannot trust the country with leaders who do not care about integrity,” Bishop Kimengich said.

When they were asked by President Uhuru Kenyatta to support Mr Odinga, Akorino Archbishop Samuel Kinyanjui said the country wants a leader who promotes unity.

 “The main role and purpose of the church is to fight for the unity of the country,” he said during the Akorino general conference last week.

The Akorino leaders called for political leadership that fights corruption.

“We want leaders who will have people’s interests at heart, not those who will take our country backwards. We are still preaching liberation and we will still fight to set our country free from the corruption yoke,” said Akorino General Secretary Abraham Macharia.

Peaceful campaigns

Anglican Church head Jackson ole Sapit has been leading calls for peaceful campaigns.

“Let’s compete in terms of ideas and policies. Do not go to a rally and just speak about is your opponent. Let us avoid name-calling, branding of tribes and issuing threats,” Archbishop Sapit said recently.

“We need to know politics is not a matter of life and death. It is an opportunity for leaders request to be supported. If you fail to get it, accept the people’s verdict.”

The Church has urged followers to reject leaders with integrity issues.

Archbishop Sapit says Kenyans have a democratic right to scrutinise leaders’ manifestos and put them on task when they get elected to ensure accountability.

The ACK head asked Kenyans to be wary of leaders who speak of peaceful elections when their actions fail to match their words.

“Kenyans must vote for leaders not because of their ethnicity or wealth but integrity. They must be people who uphold ethical values. We need responsible leaders who will deliver what they promise,” he said.

“Let us drive negative ethnicity out. Ethnicity hangs around voters due to fear of violence.”

Endorsed Azimio leader

When the Muslim Leadership Caucus (MLC), which includes the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem), Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) and National Muslim Forum, endorsed the Azimio leader on Wednesday, they said the Raila-Martha Karua ticket would improve their welfare.

 “Muslims have been committed to the struggle for justice since colonial times but have faced discrimination and marginalisation. We believe your track record in the justice system will find a strategic partner in Muslims,” Supkem chairman Hassan ole Nado said.

“Our members are concerned about being profiled and have challenges in getting passports and identity cards. We hope this will be resolved quickly.”

Before submitting their papers to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) at Bomas of Kenya recently, Dr Ruto and Mr Odinga sought spiritual intervention.

Clamour for political reforms

The Jubilee government’s closeness to the Church is a stark contrast to the past abrasive relationship between religious leaders and the state, especially during the clamour for constitutional and political reforms of the 1980s and 1990s.

Back then, the Church supported the opposition to fight for pluralism.

Moi University lecturer Masibo Lumala says religion can be separated from politics.

He argues that most politicians reach out to religious leaders for the convenience of winning votes.

According to Prof Lumala, religion guides the country whenever there is election.

Let down the country

He says many politicians have let down the country by not subscribing to religious values after getting power.

Prof Lumala is of the opinion that any of the presidential candidates who gets the backing of Muslims stands a good chance of winning in north eastern Kenya and the Coast.

“Muslims say they have thrown their weight behind Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party and its presidential flagbearer. That is significant because it will have influence in areas like Marsabit, Mombasa, Lamu, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera,” Prof Lumala said.

“Christians on the other hand are divided. Mainstream churches appear to be playing neutral.”

“Ruto has been with the Evangelical team, expecting that they will rally rally behind him. The likes of Akorino are also playing ball with the President and Raila. It implies that religious groups in Africa have a big say in elections.”

Religion being taken advantage of

Theology professor, Joseph Galgalo, argues that religion is being taken advantage of by political schemers.

“Religion gives the scheming political class a platform to lure the faithful into electing it,” Prof Galgalo, the former VC of St Paul’s University and an Anglican priest, said recently.

But while religion has been used to offer a platform for politicians to sell their agenda, Prof Galgalo says the faithful are still not a strong political constituency.

“In the unfortunate event a pastor was to use the pulpit to shepherd believers to a particular political direction, they would easily obey the ethnic voice, especially if the ethnic call is not in tandem with what the pastor wants. That is the reality,” Prof Galgalo argues.

Machakos Governor and Maendeleo Chap Chap party boss Alfred Mutua told the Sunday Nation that politics and religion share aspirations.

“Religion is about decent living here on earth so that we can enjoy blessings in heaven. Politics is about fixing systems here so that we can live as God intended,” Dr Mutua said Saturday.


Additional reporting by Daniel Ogetta

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