Malawi is a profoundly religious society and faith-based organisations (FBO s) play a significant role in politics, addressing social concerns and governance. This article investigates their role in Malawi’s political realm when engaging with the state and argues that the FBO s are opportunistic in their engagement. They seize upon opportunities for exerting influence when political and social issues dictate that action be taken in accordance with religious tenets of social responsibility, in tandem with fluctuating levels of political tension. Typical high points of tension are elections, but other controversial issues may also feature prominently. FBO s consider suitable entry points and tools of advocacy at their disposal within existing opportunity structures. As organised religion, we find that faith communities have engaged and continue to engage with the political establishment through various means, predominantly by issuing pastoral letters and statements.

Joseph Chunga

Senior Researcher
Centre for Social Research, Chancellor College, University of Malawi