With Oneness of Heart, We Shall Overcome – Statement from the National Council of Churches of Kenya
The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya has held an Extra Ordinary meeting on a virtual platform to transact statutory business and reflect on matters of national concern. We recognize that the whole world is currently experiencing a great trial that is forcing us to change how we live and carry out our businesses. We appreciated that the Bible teaches us that with oneness, we shall overcome the challenge we are facing, as we read in Jeremiah 32: 38 – 39
They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.
With this in mind, we wish to share the following message with all Kenyans.
B. Overcoming Covid-19 Pandemic
This Executive Committee wishes to urge all Kenyans to take heart that even though the Covid-19 pandemic is still spreading in our country, it is temporary and we will triumph over it in a short while. In the meantime, however, we need to change our lifestyles where necessary to adapt to this new season. We indeed learn from the Bible that when pandemic strikes, there is need for distancing and isolation among the people, as we read in Isaiah 26: 20 where God tells us: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by”.
We in this regard recommend to all Kenyans the following measures to protect themselves and others from Covid-19:
i) Faithfully observe the guidelines that have been given by the Ministry of Health, which include: (a) Ensure you wash your hands with soap frequently; (b) use alcohol based sanitizers; (c) wear a face mask every time you are outside your home; (d) keep a distance of at least four feet from other people; and (e) work from home as much as possible
ii) Adapt your livelihood engagement to the changing circumstances so that you do your work differently
iii) Realize that Covid-19 is coming home to our communities as the government rolls out Home Based Care for those who test positive but don’t have symptoms. Do read and understand the Home Based Care guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health so that you are ready in case your household is affected.
iv) Enhance your farming engagements by setting up gardens and harnessing irrigation in view of the anticipated food shortages. On its part, we urge the government to put in place subsidies to support farmers.
v) We recommend that the Ministry of Health adopts the Cuban model of care so as to establish a successful Home Based Care framework and protocol
On its part, we call upon the government to initiate measures meant to empower the country to deal with this pandemic effectively. Towards this, we recommend:
i) Recognizing that thousands of Kenyans have lost jobs and businesses, the government needs to support them to develop alternative livelihoods so that the society does not break down. With clear people-centered policies, we as a country can thrive so that Covid-19 does not further impoverish our people. In this regard, we urge the government to initiate structured consultations with small-scale traders and producers to establish ways in which they can be supported to sustain their livelihoods.
ii) The Micro and Small Enterprise Authority develops a protocol through which to support the Small and Micro Enterprises to withstand the impact of the pandemic
iii) The government to engage and empower mission and church owned health facilities to supplement the treatment of Covid-19 cases
iv) That the fund set aside to support actors in the hospitality industry be extended to church-owned hotels and resorts that have been hard hit by the pandemic
v) That the Ministry of Industry and Trade facilitates speedy establishment of factories to produce the required testing and treatment materials as well as Personal Protective Equipment so that the nation stops depending on expensive imports.
Further, this Executive Committee was deeply concerned about the reports that the country does not have enough reagents to undertake testing for Covid-19 and release the results when they are due. We urge the Ministry of Health and the National Treasury to be transparent and accountable for every shilling committed by the government to fight Covid-19. Kenyans have expressed their pain and anger at the apparent corruption in the Ministry of Health. We urge the Cabinet Secretary to deal with the matter once and for all, and that the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission remains vigilant and takes action as necessary.
C. Prevent and Manage HIV and AIDS
This Executive Committee wishes to remind Kenyans that the focus we have all put on Covid-19 should not result in a neglect of prevention and management of other diseases that affect our people. Of note, we appeal to the men in our societies to:
i) Seek to get tested for HIV together with your partner and the other members of your family. If you take the test separately, then share the results of your HIV test with your partner and significant others
ii) If any of you tests positive, then seek treatment and support each other to manage each other’s HIV status
iii) Combine prayer with medication, following the advice and guidance given by the clinicians at your health center. When you combine prayer with medication, you will live a long, productive and happy life
iv) Speak to other men to encourage them to also test for HIV and manage it with prayer and medication
v) And most importantly, always remember to be faithful to your spouse
D. Police Brutality
This Executive Committee is disturbed by reports that National Police Service officers have killed not less than 15 Kenyans in the name of enforcing COVID-19 control measures. This is wholly unacceptable and unbiblical. We urge the Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Coordination of National Government to facilitate speedy and open inquests into each of these deaths, and that the officers are held individually responsible for such disdain to the lives of Kenyans. Alongside this, police officers who have physically assaulted citizens should be held responsible, prosecuted and punished.
E. Reopening of Churches
This Executive Committee recognizes that some sections of our society have recommended a reopening of places of worship and schools. However, pandemic progression models indicate that such a move would be tragic at this time. We wish to reiterate our recommendation that places of worship, schools and other social gatherings be reopened only after there is evidence that pandemic has been brought under control. We thus welcome the establishment of the Inter Faith Council to liaise with the government to guide the process of reopening of places of worship. We will participate in the same accordingly.
On our part, we have encouraged clergy and laity to adapt and innovate on ways and means that will offer services to their congregations in the context of Covid-19. One strategy is to digitize the church services.
However, for this to succeed, we challenge the government and telecommunications companies operating in the country to make the necessary investment to upgrade internet connectivity to at least 4G across the country. We plead that this investment be done the soonest possible.
F. Reopening of Schools
With regard to reopening of schools, the NCCK made recommendations to the Task Force set up by the Ministry of Education to advise on the matter. We hereby wish to reiterate the key principles that should guide the reopening of schools:
i) Schools should only reopen when there is evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control
ii) The Ministry of Health facilitates consultations on strategies for managing transition of learners to the next level, and especially to endeavour to learn from other jurisdictions
iii) The government facilitates rapid investments in expansion of school facilities to ensure that all learners are able to report when schooling resumes
iv) The government increases capitation to cover all learners regardless of whether they are in public or private schools
v) The government hires more teachers to cater for the expected increase in number of learners
G. State of the Nation
The Executive Committee recalls that the Council has been at the forefront on the fight for reform, renewal and rebirth of Kenya. We recall that February 27, 2019, we recommended that some sections of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 be amended. We at the time detailed 33 articles that require to be amended, of which we highlight:
i) Article 2 to safeguard sovereignty of the nation
ii) Articles 97 and 98 to reduce the number of constituencies to 190 and to establish the positions of the Official Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and Senate
iii) Article 130, 131, 150, 152 and 153 to introduce the positions of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers and their responsibilities
We appreciate that different actors across the country have recognized the need for review of the Constitution. Once again, we guide that the constitution review process must be people-focused and be guided by three key principles:
i) Have a cohesive referendum that will bring Kenyans together, not one that will render them asunder
ii) Have amendments that will create an inclusive system of government in which no one is left behind
iii) Have amendments that will create a vibrant and dignified opposition to hold the government to account
To this end, we urge that the constitution review process be formalized, structured and anchored in law. Adequate civic education should be provided so that Kenyans across the country understand the referendum questions and make informed choices.
We conclude by calling upon all Kenyans to hear the word of God recorded in Jeremiah 29: 12 – 13
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
In this time when we are changing our lives so as to cope with Covid-19 and other challenges, and as we watch the changes in the political field, let us take time to call upon God, for He has promised to hear us and answer our prayers.
Signed on this 9th day of June 2020 at Jumuia Place, Nairobi.
Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki
Rev Canon Chris Kinyanjui