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Vision for the Elections: Caring for the Good of All

Vision for the Elections: Caring for the Good of All
24 March 2005

Introduction

Beloved members of our Christian family and all people of good will, we wish you God's Blessing and Peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1: 3).
We the Catholic Bishops of Tanzania, guided by our faith, have the duty and calling to share God's wisdom that lives among us in the glory of God the Father. We are ready to defend the truth always, convinced that God will be on our side if we remain faithful to Him (Rev. 2: 10, 11; Sirah 4: 23).
We wish you, beloved Christians, God's wisdom because our hope is one and the same, to get eternal life which is promised to those who overcome evil. You have this certainty to overcome it if you use well the good gifts and strength that are in and among us. Faith alone is not enough (James 2:14-17). Use well your talents in all areas of your life so that you practice faithfulness (Mt. 25:14-30).
As Pastors of the Catholic community we are well aware of the importance of the coming elections for our country. Therefore we see it as our duty to contribute to build up our society following the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The importance of these elections is not only in the choice we make of new leaders for our Government. It gives us also the opportunity to express our views and our priorities which should be included in the government programmes for the coming years.
This sharing of our ideas about these important issues for our country and our people is our duty as pastors of all people.
It is our calling because of the new commandment Jesus Christ gave when he said; "I give you a new commandment; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. So that all people may recognise that you are my disciples, when you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).
In our common statement with CCT (September 2004) we spoke about the importance of good governance and clean conscientious leaders. We spoke about the evil of corruption, about the need to build equality and the need for good morals to guide us. If leadership is won through corruption it will give us selfish people as leaders. If on the other hand we obtain leaders who build justice, equality and respect and development, it will be a blessing for our country. For this we will continue to pray, so that we may go forward in peace and harmony.
An election in a democratic country, is not just about choosing leaders through the electoral system. There is also the whole area of policies which will guide our country in the years to come. In this letter, we the Catholic Bishops of Tanzania's Episcopal Conference, would like to express our suggestions for the choice of policies we would like to see as our priorities.
We do this in a spirit of participation and collaboration with the people in government. The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of Social Teaching and in October 2004 the Compendium of Social Doctrine was issued in Rome. The official visit we made as Conference to Rome gave us the opportunity to speak about our efforts of collaboration and our beloved Pope John Paul II gave us a message on that occasion, which we hold as a precious inheritance, he said: "the cooperation between Church and State on matters of great social concern deserves to be commended and it is to be hoped that others will follow the lead you have given in this area. I am confident that you will continue to press for concrete measures designed to alleviate poverty and to increase educational provision, so that the poor may be enabled to help themselves and one another" (Vatican 11th March, 2005).
It is in this spirit that we present our ethical teaching on social issues in our country Tanzania.

1. The General Elections 2005

On October 30th 2005 we will be given the opportunity to elect the President, Parliamentarians and Counsellors. It is an important day for our nation.
It is a duty to take part in voting and to choose representatives who will be leaders, law makers and planners of policies which will lead us.
To choose representatives does not just mean to vote for people who will govern on our behalf, it also means to chose people who will take care of the interests of our nation and of the different areas in the country.
Representatives who have a vision and ideas and who will defend the interest of those who elected them, and not representatives who look after their own interests only. Elections are not an income generating project.
The upcoming elections of October 30th 2005 give us also the opportunity to express our own ideas and our own needs and put forward what we would like politicians to do for us. The preparation of the elections is a time to participate in the campaign meetings and ask questions and seek answers from the candidates on what they propose to do to help us and what they suggest for solving our problems. To participate in these meetings gives the candidates an idea of what their people think and want, and after they are elected they must defend these views and needs of their people.

2. The Church has he moral duty to speak of the rights and duties of all the citizens

 
a) God's Plan Over Our World
 
God created this world and gave us, human beings, life so that we may live together in freedom, peace and harmony, so that all may profit and benefit of God's created world and goods. God has this plan, this dream for our world, and He invites us to use all our talents to build up this world and the earthly realities so that the fruits of this activity may bring life and hope to all.
 
It is our vocation to respond to this call from God. The human person, created in God's image, must therefore be the centre of all our efforts to build a good world. God gave to each human being a personal human dignity, and this is the basic right that each person can ask to be respected in the making of public policy.
 
For us Christians we believe that God sent His Son Jesus among us to share our human life on earth so that He could teach us the way to redeem us from all evil that exists among us, in our individual person, but also in our human community and society.
 
This teaching guides us in our life and as moral teachers we want to offer these principles and values and goals, so that they may guide us in our policy making and in choosing what should be our priorities in our political and economic choices.
 
b) Guiding Principles for Public Policy
 
The Social Teaching of the Church stresses especially four principles for public policy making:
 
  • To take care of the Common Good and to assure that the individual respects the common good. Therefore we must aim with our concrete policies to provide for the common good, the basic needs of all Tanzanians, and to guarantee that each one contributes to the common good.
 
  • A second principle in policy making is that of solidarity. To combine our efforts and work together, to learn to take care of the needs of others, of our neighbours, but also the whole community. Selfishness and greed and taking care of oneself only is breaking down the unity and harmony in our society and goes against God's will.
 
  • A third principle is to learn how to participate in public life, and participate in the efforts that are being made to improve our life together. To wait for others to do the work for us is against God's command. To love God and to love one another must be carried out through our active participation in the public affairs of our country.
 
  • The fourth principle is that of subsidiarity - which says that what can be realised at a lower level, must not be done by a higher level of authority. It means that at each level of our society, village, district, nation people must take up their responsibility and the authorities must support and help this taking of responsibility.
 
c) The social values that must determine and guide our practical behaviour and our public conduct and organisation are:
 
  • To seek and defend the truth always and everywhere. This calls for openness and transparency and honesty in public affairs. It also invites everyone in authority to encourage and ensure that the truth be said and made public.
 
  • To support and sustain freedom of all citizens. Freedom can be curtailed in many ways - political, juridical, social, economic, cultural - it is our duty to help people to live in true freedom, the freedom that helps us to live a truly human life as God wants us to live.
 
  • To guarantee justice for all, not only in the legal domain, but also political justice where all voices can be heard, economic justice where the goods of the earth are shared out justly, the social justice where all citizens have equal dignity.
 
  • To create an atmosphere of love and concern for one another, to create the African family spirit in the broad sense of the word, where all human beings are part of God's family and therefore also part of our own family.
 
d) Some major ethical concerns we need to take to pay attention to:
 
We need to take care of family life: It is the basis of our society, and many things and changes are happening which are weakening our family life. Public policy must take care of this and prepare policies that strengthen and support married life, the educational opportunities for our children and young people, the problems of health and sickness which for many of our people are often a serious crises, the policy to provide good housing especially for young families, a basic income for all citizens. HIV - Aids is creating so many pitiful situations where women and children suffer the consequences.
 
Wealth creation and wealth distribution is taking on worrying dimensions in Tanzania. This is a complex issue where good economic policies must help to diminish the gap between the rich and the poor that is now growing.
 
Corruption continues to be a big evil in our society. It is practiced in many ways in big and small amounts. We are getting so used to it that it is considered as a normal thing.
 
We will only overcome this evil when each one of us will stand up, straight and strong, and say "I do not agree to take part in this." One big challenge we face now is corruption during the elections, it is presented under the new name of hospitality (takrima).
 
This takrima, becomes takrima - corruption when during election campaigns candidates give money, food, small gifts to people in order to attract their vote.
 
It is important to remember that to elect leaders is a serious matter for our people and for the progress of our country. It is not right to tempt people to give their vote by way of giving gifts. A candidate must earn the vote and be trusted by the voters because he/she has a good programme and good policies to offer, and not by way of the size of the gifts given. The evil of this kind of corruption is that it kills democracy because elections become a game following gifts rather than following good policies offered by candidates.
 
Also takrima - corruption kills democracy because it disadvantages candidates who may have talents but who do not have money or gifts to distribute takrima.
 
A culture of doing politics as a community must be developed. Politics is not a boxing game or a wrestling match between powerful people to see who is the strongest.
 
Politics is about how we organise our life together as a society and in the process of doing that there may be different views and alternative ideas in our community. It is these that should be the basis of our democratic system and of the different political parties. Elections are not about who can manage to get power, but what set of ideas and proposals deserve the support and the vote of the electorate.

3. Some Suggestions for Policy Making in Tanzania Today.

We want here simply to offer our suggestions to those who are responsible for drawing up plans and policies. These suggestions come from our own experience as pastors who are close to their people and know the needs of the people, and to whom the people often entrust their problems.
The present liberal market economy that has been introduced in recent years in Tanzania, has provided many improvements. But we see that it is showing many imperfections. Many of the assumptions that are made of that market system, do not exist in Tanzania, so there is a very uneven playing field for the different players in our economy. There should be more reflection on how these gross imbalances can be rectified. (see: Household Budget Survey, July 2002 - National Bureau of Statistics, Tanzania).
We have the strong feeling that only the people who are part of the formal economy are really benefiting from the economic growth that takes place now. The majority of our people are in informal and small productive activities in urban and in the rural sectors. They receive in fact very little attention. In our pastoral visits to the villages, or the poor areas of our towns, we see this so often with our own eyes. As a nation we need to look into this with much greater attention.
The Donor Community is certainly trying to help us and in many ways also is effective in the way it help. Yet there are also a whole string of conditions attached to aid giving, that seem to pay more attention to the good health of the money, than to the good health of our society.
We suggest that the basic economic principle that seems to guide present policy making, namely to provide solid economic conditions and provide good economic growth - be balanced by greater consideration for the social conditions of our people. We propose therefore that the donor community forgives, for 100%, the existing debt this country still carries.
We suggest to our own leaders that much more budget money be made available for education, health, water, roads. That much more attention be given to the capacities of the people at village level.
We are well aware that we do not have enough money to do all these things at once. But that is why priority - choices in policy making are so important and also so urgent. We are worried at times about certain choices for budget provision, which do not seem so urgent to us, being given first consideration, whereas the basic needs of the majority of our people do not seem to be a first priority. We say this while looking at the actual budgets that have been voted in Parliament over the past years.
Good governance is about making good policy choices and good execution of these policies, for the benefit of the population. We are always ready to contribute and participate in this exercise of good governance by giving our ideas. But we especially invite our laity to contribute to this process by their active participation in public life at various levels.

4. Our Own Responsibilities

As religious leaders we speak to our own community so as to encourage our people to be part of nation building and increase the development of our country. As we mentioned above, the Social Teaching of the Church is based upon human dignity and upon the nature of our creation, of God's created world. Our teaching is based upon the natural law, and therefore all people are living by these principles. Different faiths will have more specific guidelines on certain matters, which we respect in one another. But the basic natural law guides us all.
We must therefore take up our responsibility and build unity among all faiths, so as to contribute to the peace and harmony in our country.
As religious leaders we encourage our members to take up their responsibilities as a duty given to them by God, to work for the improvement of their life and their situation. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church - CSDC no. 539 and 541).
We promise to continue our efforts to collaborate with other faith groups and with civic society groups in a spirit of common love for our people.
As Church community we have a very good efficient network that goes from the national to the village level. Therefore, we must make better use of this network and help people to build cooperation at village level and upwards to the district level. We encourage our people to learn to trust one another and build cooperative activities of production, marketing, savings and credit societies.
We encourage the bottom up approach of activity and show that in fact the poor can help the poor. (see: The Poor will help the Poor - Programme of TEC - November 2002).
We encourage our professionals, who have been given the gift by God and by the human society, to study and acquire special knowledge, we invite them to accept that their knowledge and talents carry a Social responsibility. It is not their private property. (Mt. 25:14 - 30). We agree that they must be well remunerated for the work they do. But they must have a mindset that wants to use their capacity for service of the common good and society.
We encourage all people to care for life of society as the apostle Peter exhorts us to do, "Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. Whoever preaches must preach God's messages, whoever serves must serve with the strength that God gives him." (1 Peter 4:10-11).
We will continue to provide an ethical reflection on policy making in the future. This is not an intervention in politics, it is simply fulfilling our duty as moral leaders to be at the service of the public interest and the common good and because we are in solidarity taking part in the building of our nation.
As the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says: "An authentic democracy is not merely the result of a formal observation of a set of rules but it is the fruit of a convinced acceptance of the values that inspire democratic process: The dignity of every human person, the respect of human rights, commitment to the common good as the purpose and guiding criterion for political life CSDS no. 407).

Conclusion

We the Bishop of the Catholic Church in Tanzania reflected together with you on the Social Teaching of the Church, on how it helps us to understand our Christian duties in social life.
During this important period, before the political elections, we show the importance of participating in the elections by voting and also by expressing your views and your need before the candidates who seek to be elected.
In this way you participate in the preparation of government policies to be enacted by the incoming leaders. It is our duty to use this opportunity well to collect and express our views together. In doing so, think of the common good and the good of everyone. Let us remember especially the poor and the vulnerable group in our society. They need our special help and attention. Let us learn to think of others and to care for our neighbours, not just for ourselves.
Life in society must be based on the divine plan God has for our world. We believe that it is this plan that must guide us in our public life. It is this faith in God's purpose over us that gives us energy and makes us ready to commit ourselves in the social field so that we may work towards a better world in which we care for one another.
When love for one another is present and when that love permeates the social relationships in our nation then we will always try to aim at making the best policies. This love for one another is the social dimension of Christian love.
Social love is the antithesis of egoism or individualism. Lust for power and money, greediness and selfishness destroys the social fabric of our nation.
But love can transform the human society. We pray that God may grant us the grace of this social love for one another.
God bless Tanzania.

We your Bishops, sign this letter

1. Rt. Rev. Severine NiweMugizi, Rulenge, President - Tanzania Episcopal Conference.
2. Rt. Rev. Tarcisius Ngalalekumtwa, Iringa, Vice President
3. His Eminence Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, Dar es Salaam
4. Most Rev. Mario Mgulunde, Tabora
5. Most Rev. Anthony Mayala, Mwanza
6. Most Rev. Norbert Mtega, Songea
7. Most Rev. Josaphat Lebulu, Arusha
8. Rt. Rev. Nestor Timanywa, Bukoba
9. Rt. Rev. Aloyslus Balina, Shinyanga
10. Rt. Rev. Amedeus Msarikie, Moshi
11. Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Mapunda, Mbinga
12. Rt. Rev. Telesphor Mkude, Morogoro
13. Rt. Rev. Gabriel Mmole, Mtwara
14. Rt. Rev. Justin Samba, Musoma
15. Rt. Rev. Paul Ruzoka, Kigoma
16. Rt. Rev. Bruno Ngonyani, Lindi
17. Rt. Rev. Magnus Mwalunyungu, Tunduru/Masasi
18. Rt. Rev. Anthony Banzi, Tanga
19. Rt. Rev. Agapit Ndorobo, Mahenge
20. Rt. Rev. Evaristo Chengula, IMS, Mbeya
21. Rt. Rev. Augustino Shao, C.S.Sp., Zanzibar
22. Rt. Rev. Damian Kyaruzi, Sumbawanga
23. Rt. Rev. Jude Thaddeaus Ruwai'chi, OFM Cap, Dodoma/Mbulu
24. Rt. Rev. Venance Jacob Koda, Same
25. Rt. Rev. Desiderius Rwoma, Singida
26. Rt. Rev. Method Kilaini, Dar es Salaam
27. Rt. Rev. Damian Dallu, Geita
28. Rt. Rev. Pascal Kikoti, Mpanda
29. Rt. Rev. Ludovick Minde, OSS, Kahama
30. Rt. Rev. Alfred Leonard Maluma, Njombe
31. Rt. Rev. Castor Paul Msemwa, Tunduru/Masasi
 

Retired Bishops

32. Rt. Rev. Gervasius Placidius Nkalanga OSB, Bukoba
33. Rt. Rev. Bernard Mabula, Singida
34. Rt. Rev. Raymond Mwanyika, Njombe
35. Rt. Rev. Mathias Isuja, Dodoma
36. Rt. Rev. Bernard Ngaviliau, C.S.Sp., Zanzibar 37. Rt. Rev. Mathew Shija, Kahama
37. Rt. Rev. Fortunatus Rukanima, Arusha