* We have in the past strongly spoken about the vice of corruption and how it is steadily gaining rooted in the society
* The cancer of corruption has now almost become an accepted way of doing things in Malawi
* It is causing havoc across several arenas of governance and service provision
By Duncan Mlanjira
In order to build the hopes of the people of Malawi for a better life for all and to share out the God-given resources in a way that responds to the needs of all its citizens, Malawi’s Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter calls for urgent action that all duty bearers in the fight against corruption should systematically collaborate to combat this destructive social ill.
The Letter, made on Monday by the Bishops’ Episcopal Conference of Malawi — entitled “A Call to Hearken to the Cry of Poor Malawians’ — says as they have done many times before at critical junctures of the country, they have, since the last Pastoral Letter, “prayerfully reflected on the realities of our times and our aspirations as Malawians”.
The Bishops maintain that they have in the past strongly spoken about the vice of corruption and how it is steadily gaining rooted in the society, saying “the cancer of corruption has now almost become an accepted way of doing things in Malawi”.
“It is causing havoc across several arenas of governance and service provision. In line with the Tonse Alliance campaign promises, Malawians expected the Government and relevant agencies entrusted with leading the fight against corruption to decisively and effectively combat this social ill that has become a cause for worry.
“The way the fight against corruption is being waged is posing more questions than answers — Is there a serious cooperation and coordination among government institutions mandated to deal with corruption?
“Why is there lack of noticeable progress on many corruption cases that involve the politically and business connected? Why are there long delays in any action being taken in response to reports submitted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to the relevant authorities?
“Who is being protected? Whose interests are being served? Are the seemingly public actions against the graft done in good faith or are they meant to serve the hidden political interests of a few?
We are of the view that honest and decisive leadership on corruption, especially regarding high profile cases and high profile persons, would send a resounding signal of serious determination to eliminate corruption in Malawi.
“It is also the Church’s considered view that certain bureaucratic elements within the legal and institutional framework have deliberately derailed the fight against corruption.”
The Bishops stress that Malawians expect the ACB; the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP); the Attorney General; the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA); and the Fiscal Police “to work together to serve the public interests when discharging their functions and obligations”.
“We are deeply disturbed to note that some of the long-time defenders of the poor of the poorest in our country have now become spokespersons of the powerful and the rich — leaving the weakest citizens of our country groping in the dark alone in search of economic justice.
“While we appreciate the complex and complicated nature of systematic and organised corruption, we call upon all those tasked with its elimination to do their duty without delay on behalf of the citizens of Malawi.”
The Letter’s preamble goes back to two years ago when the country went to the polls and ushered in a new government, saying people did so on the premises of what they thought were credible campaign promises of a new Malawi coming their way.
“Regrettably, and this seems to be the verdict of many sober Malawians, the much touted promises of change are far from being realized. The daily struggle for survival for the vast majority of Malawians only deepens.
“Even when such challenges as the hurricanes, CoVID-19 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.
“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 Pastoral Letter has been authored by Most Reverend George Desmond Tambala (President of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi — Archdiocese of Lilongwe); Right Reverend Montfort Stima (Vice President, Diocese of Mangochi); Most Reverend Thomas Luke Msusa (Archdiocese of Blantyre); Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa (Diocese of Chikwawa); Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka (Diocese of Karonga); Right Reverend John Ryan; (Diocese of Mzuzu); and Right Reverend Peter Chifukwa (Diocese of Dedza).