God himself is the architect of politics

Source: God himself is the architect of politics – The Standard October 22, 2017

There is an idea that some African leaders push that the church should not be involved in politics. They argue Christians should not participate in political matters. The irony of the matter is that those who say that are devout members of the same faith.
By Rev Dr Levee Kadenge

Their agenda is to narrow down the numbers of competent leaders with the capacity to take us from the doldrums. They nevertheless need the Christian prayers and votes.

They make it appear as if they are the only ones who are destined to rule. This is buttressed by this idea of liberation movements across Africa ganging up together to maintain their grip on power in their respective countries.  As a result, we are frightened into submission so that we do not dare involve ourselves, lest we face the consequences meted on those who move into the prohibited area. Politics becomes their sacred space.

The idea of scaring the church is a ploy to deal with formidable competition from so many talented people across the religious divide. Those who dissuade others are actually charlatans who are bent on pushing an agenda of elimination by substitution. But politics is everyone’s game. As long as we are human beings, we are, by that virtue, political animals. Every creation on earth involves itself in politics in one way or the other.

The game is, as soon as those capable Christians, some who maybe priests, bishops etc talk politics, they become targets and are threatened with phrases like “if you want to join politics, come in the arena, and we take off our gloves and fight it out.”

This kind of attitude stops many potential candidates from involving themselves in politics. Yet, political leaders across the continent visit many religious groups, especially African initiated/independent churches to canvass for votes.

What they want are votes.  These leaders have become experts in using others and not wanting them to take leadership roles.

Africa becomes the poorer because of leaders who want to monopolise politics and make it their own preserve. We have seen that most of those brave Christian leaders who have dared go into the ring are either blackmailed or worse things like character assassination happen to them. Such is the scourge of Africa.

What our leaders have done is to make politics appear dirty by being divisive as to dominate it.  Then they invite Christians to come in and play the dirty game with them. It seems it is a strategy to make politics appear like a dirty game.

The worst thing is that we have also accepted that politics should be made dirty.  The word politics is derived from the Latin word polis meaning human affairs.

The emphasis that they fought for independence has been employed by our leaders as a propaganda tool to cow the populace into believing the lie that it is only them that are ordained to rule.

There is no school one should go to become a president. The various African leaders have come from different professions and some from none. Our own president was a teacher. The recently installed leader of Gambia, Adama Barrow was a security guard when he was studying in the UK. Name them one by one and none of them even went to a school of political science.

It seems the best leaders in the history of politics are those who have people at heart. Our iconic leader, Nelson Mandela was president only for a term and he relinquished office. So we are not short of examples. In Tanzania, we have had several presidents passing on the baton to younger generations. There is, therefore, no excuse because some leaders whom we all agree have been exemplary are there for Africa to showcase.

The tragedy of African politics is that those who come into office take it as a life career that must take them to the grave.  Perhaps to entice them into retirement, why can’t the continent come up with packages that attract the leadership to move on and leave space for others? The Ibrahim Fund which was instituted by the Arabic tycoon to reward good African leadership is a step in the right direction.

It is normally towards elections that our leaders up the game of propaganda to make it appear that it is almost impossible to get into politics. Hats off to those Christian leaders who have dared delve into politics. The late Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the likes of the late Professor Canaan Banana were such giants who have not been recognised as pillars of African politics.  They have been denigrated simply because they were seen as potential threats to the current leadership.

I have written elsewhere that Muzorewa was the midwife of Zimbabwean Independence. He had to be involved in the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia interim government not because it was the best option but for the sake of transitioning power from Europeans to an African government. Such an arrangement had to be processed through to get where we finally ended at.

It should be understood that the architect of politics is God himself. When He created human beings, He arranged that they be ruled directly by Himself through the provision of religious leaders. It was until the people of Israel complained to God that they wanted to have kings like other nations. God was very clear to Samuel who was the priestly ruler of the nation of Israel at the time that by virtue of the people complaining that they wanted a king, they were rejecting God.

God gave in and begrudgingly asked Samuel to anoint Saul with the clear indication that he would be the worst ruler ever. Indeed, Saul did not follow God’s instructions and He abandoned him.  To rescue His children, God asked Samuel to anoint David even when Saul was still king.  In a sense, we can say God staged the first bloodless coup in the history of nations. A leading local scholar, Rev Dr Kennedy Gondongwe said on a radio programme recently that “the master politician is God Himself and His son Jesus was almost a politician.”

Jesus was indeed the politician par excellence when he declared at the beginning of his ministry that, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of the sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19).

Christ, however, rose above such humanly expectations and instead chose to up his liberation mantra by choosing to liberate humanity from all other ills, including forgiving sin which no one except him alone could do.  He still remains the liberator par-excellence. Jesus recused himself from worldly politics but ordained all who dared care to participate with his blessings.
Let those with ears hear!

l Levee Kadenge is a theologian at United Theological College in Harare, he can be cantacted at leveekadenge@gmail.com.