The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) has reiterated its longstanding call to the government to address critical issues affecting the country such as corruption, poor quality education and human rights violations.
Bishop Antony Zziwa, who serves as both the chairperson of UJCC and Uganda Episcopal Conference, emphasized that the council will continue to raise the critical issues until the government takes action.
The joint Easter message, centered around the theme of “do good, seek justice, and prepare for judgment,” was read to the faithful who took part in the ecumenical public way of the cross at Old Kampala playground.
Speaking specifically about the education system, which he believes has been declining, Bishop Zziwa, who is also the ordinary of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese, pointed out the issue of poor quality education in the country. He stated that despite the existence of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE), there are still gaps in the system, such as a shortage of teachers and instructional materials, which has resulted in high dropout rates and poor academic performance.
The timing of the plea from the UJCC coincides with recent decisions made by the cabinet to improve the state of education in the country. The government has committed to providing free education and increasing the number of teachers, schools, and instructional materials to ensure the quality of education received by students in public schools meets the required standard.
However, Bishop Zziwa stressed that there is a need to walk the talk and the government reflects their promises by increasing funds allocated to the education sector. He further added that there is also a need for foundation bodies, including faith-based organizations, in supporting school management committees to remind parents of their critical roles in the education of their children.
Bishop Zziwa also reminded the government on matters of the environment which he says is being destroyed under the watch of those who need to protect it, putting the rest of the citizens to suffer the terrible immediate and long-term effects.
Metropolitan Jeronymos Muzeeyi, the head of the Orthodox Church in Uganda, reminded the government of the need for consensus building, conflict transformation, democracy, and good governance. Metropolitan Muzeeyi noted that there is a need for all concerned stakeholders in the country to work towards greater mutual understanding.
Archbishop Muzeeyi also highlighted the issue of land wrangles and grabbing, which he noted are affecting the most disadvantaged people in the country who are poor and cannot defend themselves. Archbishop Muzeeyi urged the government to use land laws and policies to protect citizens and their land.
He emphasized the importance of any development planned by the government on people’s land being carried out according to land laws and being people-oriented.
Archbishop of the Church of Uganda His Grace Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, who was also the main preacher of the day, primarily focused on issues related to immorality, witchcraft, and corruption among both the faithful and leaders, highlighting the need to address these societal ills.
Archbishop Kaziimba expressed concern about the sinful practice of homosexuality and sacrificing children and animals to protect one’s property, and called for an end to this practice.
He emphasized the importance of following Jesus’ teachings and abandoning any unrighteous practices, urging believers to strive to do good.
Kaziimba also urged the faithful to embrace the love for one another, citing Mark Twain’s words that love is a language understood by the deaf and seen by the blind. He emphasized that love requires sacrifice from the faithful. Furthermore, he reminded everyone to always do good, refrain from greed and corruption, and not be tempted by the love of money.
He urged those who have fallen into the trap of taking what does not belong to them to follow the example of Zacchaeus and return what they have irregularly possessed.
Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender, who walked alongside the religious leaders during the way of the cross, promised to convey their message to the President. Amongi assured them that the issues raised would be discussed in relevant forums and solutions would be provided.
Founded in 1963 by Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Leslie Brown of the Church of Uganda, and Archbishop Theodorous Nankyama of the Orthodox Church, the Ugandan Joint Christian Council (UJCC) is an ecumenical organization that aims to promote greater mutual understanding and unity of purpose among its members.
The organization which will later this year mark 60 years of existence was established during a period of bitter conflicts between various faith communities in Uganda during the colonial era, with the three religious leaders recognizing the need for Christians to work together and live in harmony.
With a following comprising over 70 percent of Uganda’s population, the UJCC serves as a platform not only for evangelization but also for advocacy on political, economic, and social issues affecting Ugandans.