Summary: Church leaders must pay attention to Christian Advocacy Ministry.
THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN ADVOCACY FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
THE BIBLE, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ADVOCACY
The new nation Israel was given instruction about governance, power and justice. The Lord instructed them, ‘you shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgement. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.’ Deuteronomy 16:18-20. Leaders were to be appointed to pursue the well-being of the people. They were to make decisions for the people directed by values such as fairness, sincerity and divine consciousness. Perversion of justice, partiality and bribery were to be eschewed from the governance system of the people.
The relationship between good leadership and the well-being of the people was established. The possibility of inheriting the blessings of the land was closely connected to commitment to good governance. Good leadership and governance were not supposed to be at the pleasure of the judges. It was a divine imperative. It was the right of the people. The very well-being and prosperity of the people depend on the quality of leadership of the various leaders.
Moreover, governance was to be spread and shared. No single judge was to have the hegemony of power. The various tribes and communities were to have their own judges who eventually would be reporting to higher authorities. There were checks and balances established in the whole governance structure of the nation. The governance system allowed for feedbacks and accountability. Jethro advised Moses to allow the judges to settle disputes at the community levels and rather refer the more difficult issues to him. At least dissatisfied people who felt they had been denied justice and fairness knew they could appeal to higher authorities for fair use of power and authority Exodus 18:14-27.
The citizens were to actively participate in the governance of the nation. They were to honor their leaders and be obedient to them. Moreover, they were to perform their responsibilities towards good governance of the society. The people were also tasked to let their voices be heard. They were to thank God for the blessings of providence through the services of those in governance. They were further expected to lift up a cry unto God when they are denied justice and righteous judgement. The cry of such needy people were to be heard not only by God but also by the leaders and ordinary people in the society.
The un-heard voices of members of the society who were destitute, marginalized and destined to die were to be re-echoed by the abled members of the society. It must be noted that there is nothing like voiceless people anywhere. Different people express different voices only that sometimes some voices are not heard. It seems to me that we have un-heard voices rather than voiceless people. In Proverbs the invitation was given to those who had the opportunity to judge the people to plead the cause of the needy and defend the rights of the poor. ‘Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy’ Prov. 31:8-9. In the Book of James relevant religion is to be considered by how the people of faith are prepared to identify with the poor, marginalized, orphans etc. who have been denied justice and access to the blessings of the land James 1:27. God who is the initiator of Good Governance is always looking for people to stand in the gap for the peace and security of the land. ‘So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one’. Ezek. 22:30
DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN AFRICA
Most African countries have accepted democracy as system of governance. Constitutions have been enacted with the separation of powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary. The various freedoms such as speech, press, movement, association, religion etc. do enshrine in the constitutions. Institutions of accountability have been spelt out with well-defined mandate of the various security agencies. Electoral processes that define terms of office, voting rights, handing over of power to new political administrations are very clear in statutory books.
According to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ‘Democracy is not just about one day every four or five years when elections are held, but a system of government that respects the separation of powers, fundamental freedoms like the freedom of thought, religion, expression, association and assembly and the rule of law…… Any regime that rides roughshod on these principles loses its democratic legitimacy, regardless of whether it initially won an election’. Challenges of democracy in the continent needs to be identified and addressed. Democracy in some African countries are gradually becoming dictatorship of the majority.