Bishops chide government on economy


Catholic bishops in the country have said they are deeply concerned that the government presents to Malawians macro-economic growth indicators which do not reflect the reality on the ground and have since asked President Peter Mutharika’s administration to show a sense of leadership.

In their Lenten letter titled ‘Mercy of God as a path of hope on current socio-political and economic issues in Malawi’ released on Sunday, the bishops say while the government continues to assure the nation that the economy is under control, the situation has turned to be very bitter for many Malawians.

“It is our considered view that an economy can be said to be performing only and if it leads to prosperity and dignified lives for the majority of Malawians. The economy must serve the people and not the other way around. The success of any economy should not just be measured through the so-called macro-economic growth indicators but the positive effects on the livelihoods of people. This is a true benchmark of any successful economy,” reads the letter in part.


The clergy say they cannot sit back and watch in the face of shrinking standards or public service delivery, increasing gap between the rich and the poor, lack of fiscal discipline and misplaced priorities in the prevailing tough times which call for tough measures.

The bishops have, therefore, appealed to the government to be honest and truthful when presenting the economic situation so that together people in the country can find solutions.

“The adopted macro-economic policies must protect human life, defend human rights and advance the well-being of all,” the bishops said.


The pastoral letter, which was read in all Catholic churches in the country, continues to urge the government to steer the nation to hard work, self-reliance and diversification of production.

“In the present circumstances, the government should review some of its policies and practices to ensure a change of mindset and attitudes so as to ensure national and household food security, social security, protection of the environment through promotion of alternative sources of energy and many other areas.

According to the bishops, only transformative leadership is capable of putting up a very efficient civil service that brings about effective service delivery in all spheres of life.

“For the sake of their people, such leaders discard old ways of governing and doing politics which are probably wasteful. They are leaders who match words with actions. Good leaders must be able to set the tone,” the statement said.

On fiscal discipline, the bishops say no amount of revenue will be enough if the expenditure side is not prudently managed.

The statement said the bishops are also concerned with reports of high level of extravagance demonstrated by government in different forms.

“While preaching about austerity, much travel, large entourages, free rolling expenditure still persist. We also find the purchase of top of the range vehicles for the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary very inappropriate. This uncontrolled spending is done at the expense of the many poor people.

“Similarly, we are concerned that whilst there is less funding for critical service delivery in many government ministries, there is a lot of spending for less important issues. There is no justification for organizing banquets from state coffers celebrating the passing of national budgets,” the statement reads.

On low revenue collection, the bishops say they are compelled to point out that Malawians understand the need for supporting their government through taxes and levies but the government is not maximising on the process of revenue generation.

“This results in a lot of revenue lost through tax evasion scams by individuals and institutions whose taxes could have gone a long way in supporting service delivery. There is need for political will to support the tax collecting body [Malawi Revenue Authority] to do its job efficiently. We also appeal to all citizens of this country to pay their taxes as an expression of their patriotism,” the bishops said.

On shrinking or lack of public service delivery, the bishops remind the leadership that most poor Malawians depend on public service delivery financed by the government and limited or lack of funding is tantamount to denying people access to better services in education, health, agriculture and water.

Government Spokesperson, Jappie Mhango, said he was yet to see the letter.

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