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HomeNewsAfricaMalawi’s Catholic Bishops criticise the Government for poor governance.

Malawi’s Catholic Bishops criticise the Government for poor governance.

The strongly worded-Pastoral letter titled “The Sad Story of Malawi” released in all country parishes for the Second Sunday of Lent is a scathing vote of no confidence in Malawi’s Tonse Alliance Government of President Dr Lazarus Chakwera.

Four years ago: Then and now

Between 2019 and 2020, Malawians agitated for change. They took to the streets and eventually got the change they wanted. Dr Lazarus Chakwera was elected the country’s President on a platform of eradicating hunger, creating one million jobs in the first year, ushering in infrastructure development and upholding the rule of law. The Tonse Alliance Government also pledged to fight corruption and nepotism, promote merit-based recruitment in Government and tone down presidential powers.

Four years later, the Bishops now say the promised vision of an inclusive, youth-cetnred and prosperous nation has become even more elusive. Poverty, hunger and disease, they say, have increased, and if nothing is done urgently, things could become worse.

Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of Malawi
Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of Malawi

“If Malawians ask themselves, ‘AM I BETTER OFF NOW THAN I WAS FOUR YEARS AGO?’ the resounding answer for the vast majority of Malawians is an emphatic ‘NO’. It is clear that the story that the Tonse Alliance Government told us before being elected into government is not being realised,” the Malawian prelates conclude.

Bagamoyo instead of the Promised Land.

The Bishops say the Toonse Alliance Government of Malawi promised citizens the Promised Land but has instead led them to Bagamoyo -an old trading port on Tanzania’s East African coast that became infamous for slave trade in the 19th century.

It is strong imagery -a far cry from the euphoria that swept Malawians in the election year 2020.

“Fellow Malawians, we feel very sorry to say that because of all the difficulties and failures, most Malawians have lost hope in the Tonse Government and its leadership. In spite of all the excitement that the Tonse Government would lead Malawians to the promised land, only four years later, to the disappointment of all except the few well-connected people, Malawi has ended up at Bagamoyo –a city on the east coast of Tanzania, which when a slave arrived there he or she lost all hope of being free again. Instead of reaching the promised land of prosperity, we are bogged down in the same land we wanted to leave, namely the land of hunger, disease, poverty, and corruption. Hence, most Malawians, except the very few well-connected ones, feel strongly that there is nothing else they can do to turn around the country or improve the deteriorating living conditions,” the Bishops assert.

Fruitless Engagements with the State President

The Bishops state that before going public with the Pastoral Letter, they have, on numerous occasions, engaged President Chakwera and his Government in dialogue, albeit in vain.

“Mindful of our prophetic role to be the voice of the voiceless, we have privately engaged the State President several times. Still, we fail to see any positive change in the general governance of our dear Malawi or any improvement in the plight of our poor brothers and sisters across the country. We have repeatedly warned the government leadership that if poor governance continues, the state of our nation will become far worse than it was four years ago. Unfortunately, our prediction has come true. While our efforts to engage the Government leadership have been largely unsuccessful, as Christians, we keep trying, hoping for change at some stage. With the hope of hastening such change, we hereby amplify the cry of the poor and suffering Malawians through a different approach,” the Bishops emphasised.

Lake Nyasa.
Lake Nyasa.

The Judiciary also comes in for censure. The Bishops suggest: “Even the Judiciary appears to have abandoned its integrity and embroiled itself in corruption and partisanship.”

Looming food insecurity

Other issues raised in the Pastoral Letter include concerns about looming food insecurity; rampant corruption; nepotism, which they say is rife; ethnic-based appointments and excessive foreign travel by government officials.

The Bishops want the Government to respect media freedoms and rights and remind Malawians about the importance of respecting and caring for creation. They also raise attention to the growing victimisation of elderly people on accusations of practicing witchcraft.

Catholic Women Organisation in Malaw
Catholic Women Organisation in Malaw

The Tonse Alliance Government

The Tonse Alliance (together alliance) was formed in time for Malawi’s 2020 presidential election. President Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party and Vice President Saulos Chilima of the United Transformation Movement, together with other parties, formed the Tonse Alliance. Chilima contested the race as Chakwera’s running mate for the Malawi Congress Party.

In 2022, relations between the President and his Vice President became strained over allegations of corruption. Chilima was stripped of his delegated powers as a vice president by President Chakwera. He could not be removed from his position as Vice President because of restrictions enshrined in Malwi’s constitution.

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