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Anglican Church ordered to pay Malasa within 7 days

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The Mangochi District Labour Office has directed the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire (Adus) to pay labour and employment terminal benefits to the excommunicated bishop Brighton Malasa and other priests within seven days.

The others are Reverend Canon Tito Lezzi and Reverend Emmanuel Masitala.

In October this year, the Anglican Church excommunicated Malasa and others and the former bishop of the diocese demanded K1 billion terminal benefits plus 25 percent devaluation effect to the amount.

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The labour office has also advised the church to stop evicting Malasa and the priests from church houses before paying the benefits.

This is contained in a letter signed by District Labour Officer for Mangochi Ernest Titherenji dated December 23, 2022 and addressed to Adus diocesan secretary.

“My office has observed with great concern that the labour and employment matter of the above named reverends was not treated fairly, contravening section 31 of our constitution, which talks about fair labour practices, and your office failed to honour section 43 of our constitution which talks about administrative justice. Don’t forget that churches register with the government, as such, they are controlled by the laws of the land,” reads the letter in part.

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The letter adds: “Basing on the above comments, you are required to provide labour and employment terminal benefits as per provided for within your terms and conditions of employment, within seven days from the date of this letter.”

Titheranji says in the letter that it is unfair to evict or confiscate anything from Malasa and the other priests before their terminal benefits are paid.

“If you want their houses or anything else, as employees, prepare their terminal benefits first since their dismissals are unfair. Should seven days pass without anything from your office, this matter will be referred to Industrial Relations Court for final determination,” the letter reads.

Titherenji’s letter is prompted by a letter which the diocese wrote the labour office over the terminal benefits and excommunication issues.

The labour office has however avoided the excommunication issue which it says is under the jurisdiction of the church and further, the High Court is already handling the matter.

Titherenji says Section 31 of the Constitution of Malawi requires every person including the clergy to have the right to fair and safe labour practices and to fair remuneration.

“This is why my office is investigating how your institution handled labour and employment agreement in this matter,” Titherenje says adding that section 43 of the Constitution requires institutions to observe administrative justice when handling matters.

“My office is also checking whether this was honoured or not on the labour and employment matter in this case,” the letter reads.

When contacted yesterday, Adus diocesan secretary Christopher Zambira refused to comment on the letter from the labour office.

“I have no competent comment to make,” Zambira said. Malasa said the letter was a relief and added that: “We are also waiting for a High Court order on the same.”

Following Malasa’s excommunication, the church appointed Reverend Canon Grant Timpuza Tebulo to run the diocese as Vicar General in the absence of a bishop.

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