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Catholic bishops take on government

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WANT ACTION—Bishops such as Tambala

Catholic Church bishops in the country Monday slammed the Tonse Alliance administration over its failure to deliver on promises made to Malawians in the run-up to the June 23 2020 presidential election.

Government spokesperson Gospel Kazako said Monday that they have no problem with the pastoral letter.

In their pastoral statement titled ‘A Call to Hearken to The Cry of Poor Malawians’, the bishops say the verdict of many sober Malawians is that the much-touted promises of change made by Tonse are far from being realised.

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The pastoral statement comes barely seven months after the bishops issued a pastoral letter titled ‘Commemorating Living Our Faith -Lent 2022-.

According to the pastoral statement, the daily struggle for survival for the vast majority of Malawians has only deepened.

“Even when such challenges as the hurricanes, Covid and the war in Ukraine are factored in, our humble but honest submission is that we have missed out on leadership to seize opportunities, policy direction and intervention critically sought for at such times.

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“The end result seems to be a Malawi worse off than what we were promised and looked forward to in a region where most of our neighbouring countries, affected by the same challenges, are registering meaningful human and economic progress,” the bishops say.

The bishops have also hit at the Tonse Alliance for what they call retrogressive way of governing

Malawians, the bishops say, have observed that the Tonse way of governing is characterised by internal bickering, jostling for political clout, cronyism, nepotism, focusing on narrow selfish political interests and disjointed stances on public policy by alliance partners.

“The situation is a serious cause for worry as it undermines meaningful development which would enhance the lives of people, especially the poor in Malawi. Malawians are tired of politicians who keep fighting for political power before, during, after and in-between elections without regard to the development needs of the electorate.

“We call upon the Tonse Alliance partners, as national leaders, to collectively guide the people to the attainment of a better Malawi for all,” the bishops say.

The Catholic leaders have since called upon Tonse Alliance partners to desist from worthless and needless politicking, evidenced by too much focus on the 2025 general elections, and, instead, focus on governing Malawi in a way motivated by fairness for all and true development of the country.

On corruption, the bishops have noted that the way the fight against graft is being waged in the country is raising more questions than answers.

While appreciating the complex and complicated nature of systematic and organised corruption, the bishops have called upon all those tasked with its elimination to do their duty without delay on behalf of the citizens of Malawi.

On service delivery, the bishops say it continues to gravely disturb Malawians that the provision of services to the citizens is marred by inadequate funding, shortage of essential commodities, poor attitude of already demotivated public servants and interrupted crucial services and goods such as provision of electricity and fuel.

“That the situation cannot be arrested through progressive and effective government action amounts to institutional failure and is also indicative of State failure.

“It is grossly unjust that when the larger citizenry is served with poor and substandard services, the governing elite privately enjoy high quality services funded by the poor taxpayers. We, the Catholic bishops, once again ask: Don’t Malawians deserve better?” Quizzed the bishops.

Meanwhile, Kazako has said Capital Hill has no issues with the pastoral statement the Catholic bishops have issued.

Kazako said the statement would assist the administration relook at where they are.

He said the statement reminds the government of the mammoth responsibility it has to ensure that the lives of Malawians improve.

“On corruption, we, as government, our major responsibility is to provide resources to the ACB [Anti- Corruption Bureau], which we have. We have capacitated the ACB in a record volume. We expect it to be independent and professional. We have gone to an extent of amending the law to ensure smooth flow of their operations.

“We also get concerned when there are delays in courts. The concept of separation of powers creates distance with the courts. We have limitations on how we can push the courts to avoid being charged with interfering with court processes,” Kazako said.

Those that have signed the letter are Most Reverend George Tambala President, Archbishop of Lilongwe and Apostolic Administrator of Zomba; Right Reverend Montfort Stima, Vice President and Bishop of Mangochi; Most Reverend Thomas Msusa Archbishop of Blantyre; Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka, Bishop of Karonga; Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa, Bishop of Chikwawa; Right Reverend John Ryan, Bishop of Mzuzu, and; Right Reverend Peter Chifukwa, Bishop of Dedza.

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