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Bishops spit fire in pastoral letter

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AMONG THE SIGNATORIES—Mtumbuka

Catholic Bishops Sunday came out strongly to ask Malawians to use the forthcoming presidential election to vote for a leader who they said can save the country from collapsing.

In their pastoral letter titled A further call for a new era in Malawi, the bishops—who form the Episcopal Conference of Malawi—also damned tribalism, politics-related violence, corruption and impunity, among other things.

The letter reads in part: “Our country is at a crossroads. We can either choose to save our nation or destroy it. The most urgent task before us is to choose a leader who can rescue it from further deterioration. We call upon all duty bearers to ensure that the forthcoming presidential election is free, fair, credible and peaceful.

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“We also urge all Malawians to go and vote and vote wisely, keeping in mind the consequences of not voting or not voting wisely. Let us continue to pray and seek God’s guidance for the success of this election.”

In the letter, which was read in all Catholic churches across the country, the bishops say more than ever before the need for ushering in a new era in Malawi has reached a critical stage where “we can either degenerate into a failed State or rise to a unified, orderly and prosperous nation”.

In the pastoral letter, signed by Archbishop Thomas Msusa, Archbishop Tarsizio Ziyaye, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka, Bishop Peter Musikuwa, Bishop George Tambala, Bishop Montfort Sitima, Bishop John Ryan and Reverend John Chithonje, the clergymen say failure to choose a good leader would result in Malawi becoming more chaotic, divided and with deepening levels of poverty.

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“Malawi is now departing from the unifying spirit of our forefathers and going towards fragmentation and tribalism. This is shown by tribal political talk, nepotism, forms of favouring one’s own area and one’s own region as well as practice whereby politicians seek to gain votes by whipping the anger of voters against other tribes and regions.

“This is a very dangerous road we are taking as a nation and we appeal to all citizens to avoid these evils of tribalism and regionalism. We are one family,” the letter further reads.

Government spokesperson, Mark Botomani, refused to comment on the pastoral letter which follows another which was written towards last year’s elections titled A call for a new era in Malawi.

Ernest Thindwa

Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa said the type of leadership that Malawi has had in recent years has not done well in uniting Malawians.

Thindwa said the development has resulted in Malawians thinking about issues of tribes and regions when interacting with one another.

“What the Catholic Bishops are doing is to shine a spotlight on the current situation and asking Malawians whether they would like the situation to continue or not. The bishops have made it clear that the problem in Malawi has been the political leadership,” Thindwa said.

Malawians are expected to go to the fresh presidential poll on June 23 after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 21 2019 poll on the basis that it was were married by widespread, systematic and grave irregularities.

The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Constitutional Court.

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