Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's special envoy at the All African Conference of Churches general assembly in Maputo, Laurence Konmla Bropleh, has called on the Church in Africa to lead the people in making their leaders accountable - writes Frank Jomo.
During a keynote address recently, Bropleh, who is also minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, said problems now facing Africa demand a different style of advocacy by the Church, which must insist that national governments become transparent and accountable as stewards of the people's resources.
"For too long Africa's political establishment benefited from the spoils of the continent's resources while the majority of Africa's citizens continued to languish in poverty and destitution," he said. "The continent is richly endowed with natural resources like gold, diamonds, oil … yet the irony is that Africa is one of the poorest continents while most of its wealth is concentrated in countries with history of bad governance."
Bropleh said that apart from calling African governments to account, the Church also has a role to ensure that governments provide more opportunities for citizens to maximize their skills in order to compete with people from other parts of the world.
"Citizens' participation is a guiding principle of democratic governance. The more the Church becomes vocal in challenging national government to abide by the rules of good governance and transparency, the better the prospects the future will be for Africa's people," said Bropleh.
On the global financial crisis, Bropleh told the once-in-five-years assembly that while the aggregate economic impact of the crisis on the continent has not been fully estimated, it was obvious that it will have profound effects on the social, political and economic stability of many low income countries dependant on aid, natural resources and foreign direct investment.
"This means Africa could face a gloomy future as the continent is expected to solve longstanding social problems such as poverty, illiteracy, the fight against infectious diseases, corruption in addition to new ones: climate and environmental degradation, the need for renewable energy and the distribution of scarce water resources," Bropleh noted.
More than 1250 people representing Christian churches in Africa and abroad are meeting in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, for the 9th AACC general assembly from 7-12 December.
Meeting immediately before the AACC gathering, members of the Alliance of Reformed Churches in Africa had on 5 December called for an end to the suffering and violence being perpetrated on the people of Zimbabwe. They urged the African Union and the Southern African Development Community to put pressure on the regime of Robert Mugabe to respect the democratic will of the people in his country.
"We have observed with deep pain the continued social, political and economic crises as evidenced by the breakdown of normal life and the scourge of disease that is sweeping the country," said the Rev. Jerry Pillay, the newly elected president of the African Reformed group.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]