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Priests block Malasa’s retirement package

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By Deogratias Mmana

Priests in the Anglican Diocese of the Upper Shire (ADUS) have teamed up to block a K1 billion retirement package and purchase of a brand-new vehicle for their outgoing bishop Brighton Malasa.

The priests have vowed to do everything they can to stop the Board of Finance from executing the decision to pay K1 billion and purchase a new vehicle ranging between K83 million to K123 million for Malasa.

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In February this year, the Church’s Board of Finance pegged at around K1 billion the total retirement package for its embattled bishop as per requirement stipulated in Canon 13 following the six-month ultimatum that Malasa was given to resign.

But 19 priests of the diocese have written the board warning it not to implement its decisions on Malasa’s retirement package.

They describe the development as extravagant and insensitive to the financial turbulence the diocese is passing through.

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The priests have advised the board to consider options that are financially prudent.

“Following the voluntary resignation of Bishop Malasa from the See of Upper Shire, your Board made exaggerated benefits claims up to One Billion Kwacha. It is crystal clear that your calculations were made not in good faith, not based on truth but simply to scare the people in the Diocese.

“We are also aware that the resigned Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Brighton Malasa has instructed your Board to revise the false calculations upwards to accommodate the 25 % devaluation of the currency. We tell you, this propaganda will not subdue the truth and will not work,” reads the letter dated August 8, 2022.

The letter is signed by 19 priests of the diocese and addressed to chairperson of the finance board and the diocesan secretary.

The letter has been copied to Malasa, bishop of Anglican Council in Malawi and diocesan registrar, among others.

The priests that have signed the letter are: Canon Francis Chipala; Evans Kachiwanda; Eston Pembamoyo; Canon John Mchakama; Geofrey Kondwani; Njalammanu Banda; Samuel Kauwa; Patrick Ngongo; Atley Vumbwe; Elliot Litereko; Dyson Chombo; Christopher Mizaya; Captain Singano Kachala; Mphatso Bango; Hope Mitepa; Chikondi Pembamoyo; Lawrence Chipwatali; Charles Assani and Blake Maulidi.

On the bishop’s car replacement, the priests argue that Malasa’s current vehicle is just four years old and in good condition.

“Think twice and please be realistic about the replacement period and the type of the vehicle in relation to the financial capability of our diocese. We know that you intend to purchase a vehicle on loan agreement with the supplier. This is not going to do the church any good but only to mount a loan burden on the financially suffering church when the Bishop finally leaves the diocese,” the letter reads.

The clergy are also against the board’s intention to introduce a bishop’s wife allowances for performing official duties.

“Which official duties are these? She is not employed by the diocese and this is a clear abuse of power and resources. It is such kind of selfish policies and decisions which have helped Bishop Malasa to be unpopular and led to his premature exit.

“If you implement that decision, be prepared to do the same with priests’ wives across the diocese who work hard and whose husbands are underpaid and have no endowment fund and extra allowances as the bishop,” the letter says.

The Board of Finance chairperson Peter Salamba said on Wednesday that he was not aware of the issues raised and that he had not received the letter.

But one of the signatories of the letter who is also the representative of the priests, Fr. Njalammanu Banda, confirmed the issues and said the letter was sent to Salamba through email.

“If he says he has not seen it, it is just that he or they want to run away from the truth but it was sent out. That’s an obvious response when people know that something has been known before they execute it. We are members of the diocese and we know what is happening,” he said.

Early this year, a pastoral letter from the Anglican Church of Central Africa Province, which oversees all Anglican dioceses in the country, confirmed that Malasa would be leaving his position.

Malasa, who fell out of grace with his flock, indicated that he was ready to step down if the diocese fulfilled Canon law requirements.

“The law provides that a bishop who is being forced to retire must be provided with salary and all benefits, including a new car every four years, for the period which he was supposed to serve,” Malasa said.

This means that the Upper Shire Diocese will have to give Malasa, 46, his benefits for 19 years from 2022.

Asked what he makes of the priests’ move, Malasa simply said “Ok” in a What’sApp response.

Malasa was centre of controversy in the diocese leading to divisions which resulted in 37 parishes out of 41 agitating for his ouster.

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