IT used to be gauche to debate politics as it was considered ill-bred to discuss religion during the dark season of modern human history.
Politics and religion were once the two topics with no place in civilized conversations. Those days are now behind us. We discuss religion for political for reasons as we talk politics for religious reasons.
In a free society or even that considering itself to be free, interdependence between the state and religion cannot be cheaply ignored. This interdependence brings a sense of life of a particular society, the way of life that cannot be extricated from culture.
Is it not unimaginable to think of Chinese culture without Confusianism?
Is not naive to think of Indian societies without Hinduism?
How do you amputate Islam and Christianity from Tanzanian culture?
If culture is a total way of life of a particular group of people, then religion and politics take a lion’s share of our total way of life. Through different religions, Tanzanian societies organise their politics as they parsue their dreams for a prosperous nation.
It is a solid truth, I believe, that you cannot find any political organization activity in this country without religious leaders’ involvement. It is also true that these leaders represent a certain constituency in those activities directly or directly.
It is now common to find religious leaders in elective positions courtesy of political parties. Simply put, they dine and drink politics.
In government projects, religion has had its footprints. Religion has been at the heart of our education and health systems. It is found in finance and many societal development initiatives as well
We also see religious leaders being paraded to pray for government projects.
If politics and religion are that tied at the hip, how is it possible for the society not talk religion for politics or politics for religion?
I never hear any squabbles when all these things happen. In many cases, wrangles emerge only when religious institutions put the government on check.
The most recent example is the Tanzania Episcopal Conference(TEC) acclesiastical letter concerning the Intergovernmental Agreement(IGA) between Tanzania and Dubai that was issued late last week.
In there, TEC urges that government to rescind this particular agreement. Its core argument is that the agreement is potentially a business deal that confiscates Tanzania’s future economic possibilities; that, whereas the argument for investment is legit, the way to go about it cannot be the way this particular IGA is drafted.
As long as we have had such contracts before, we should now be in a position to negotiate for better deals as we exploit our natural resources into economic resources. TEC argues.
Their call to discontinue the agreement didn’t end with the intrinsic anomalies but they want government to consider the citizen’s dissatisfaction. Their argument is that they have both spiritual and socio-economic role to their followers and the country at large.
In a country where citizens have become “economic desperados” hence the mushrooming of all manner of religions which preach economic miracles, it behoves some people within the circles of men of cloth to begin asking hard socio-economic questions. Some questions are at the core of government policies which do not seem to make sense especially when dealing with natural endowments.
However, it is with no doubt that religious institutions have been asking these questions for many years. As such, I find TEC’s position extremely important.
Government officials with their apologists have consistently painted TEC in bad light as an institution with the periphery agenda other than the mainstream. I do not know about that, but I surely know that whenever our government is in crisis as from the public furore; its response is always “deflect deflect deflect”. It quickly turns marginal issues into central issues and central issues into marginal issues for eventual disappearance of whatever the public is crying for. I find the present happenings reading from that script.
But here is a point.
In the 79th Federalist Paper, Hamilton wrote; In the general cause of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will”. This means if you control the economy, you control people. Our country is full of people wallowing in poverty amidst precious resources. Our poverty is largely the result global capital movements that have been capturing our government’s economic policies. And we seem not learn from that. Why would anyone trivialize an institution let alone a religious one that question such unpalatable tangent? For whose interests?
As far I know, such questions from religious platforms have been with us. They always intend to bring awareness on an economic illness, poverty. Poverty of the citizens caused by capital concentration at the apex within the nation which is fundamentally connected with the same patterns at the global stage. Religious institutions are aware that capital deconcentration within, cannot be attained if we continue with sloppy agreements that sink the nation in perpetual economic madness.
When our government institutions fail to do it the right way, religious institutions come in as they do when these institutions are being formed. In this IGA debate, we have seen how institutions have failed from parliament to judiciary. If citizens are represented by the legislative arm of government, what should religious do when the country’s economic hopes go to the tubes because of parliament?
Is it not true- Jean-Jacques Rousseau reminded us;
“Nothing is more dangerous than the influence of private interests in public affairs, and the abuse of laws by the government is a less evil than the corrupt of the legislator, which is the inevitable sequel to a particular standpoint. In such a case, the state being altered in substance, all reforms become impossible”
Her Excellency Madam President Samia Suluhu Hassan is keen on reforms. What is the hullabaloo all about when an institution calls for genuine reforms in line with the good intention the president is championing? Is it not true that the parliament has been sleeping on the switch in matters of grave concern to the nation?
We should not lie to ourselves that reforms can only happen when the government is not checked from outside. In any case, these institutions are connected. Intimately, our institutions relate to the basic teachings of religion.
It is through those teachings that we derive the meaning of life, the moral order, the dignity of persons as well as the fundamental social, political and economic rights as they relate to responsibilities of individuals.
When these responsibilities get eroded simply because individuals are in political institutions which affect not only politics but the wellbeing of all, religion should not be expected to be a bystander.
In the judicial realm for example, when the courts of law turn themselves into courts of political correctness, it should not be believed that those who suffer are case losers.
The society pays heavily especially in economic spheres if the cases are about that. There is a general feeling that courts needed to do better on the IGA case as discussed in this article…..
The government is boasting itself as to how it is building a free economy. But a free economy does not beget itself.The necessity for its existence is a free society.
For a free society to emerge, both the necessary and sufficient conditions must obtain. The necessary conditions centres on sanctitude among persons that guide political and economic spheres and sufficient conditions in which liberty and justice for all is not a previlege.
It is on this principle that the main purpose of our religions should be tied with all the struggles that work toward a society of social-economic justice, reason of choice and the law.
TEC’s position is lin ine with that economic freedom foundation. This is what it meant when Adam Smith in his masterpiece Wealth of Nations argues for a “liberal plan of liberty, equality and justice.”
Why would the political class get jittery when a religious institution espouses these values? Let God’s people speak because when they speak liberty flourish.
I still believe that Thomas Jefferson was right when he said: “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.“