Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of the Catholic Diocese of Karonga in Malawi’s northern region lakeshore district has rubbished speculations that his diocese is seeking financial favours from the Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party (PP) led government to establish itself.
President Banda has publicly been speaking in favour of His Grace Mtumbuka whose consecration on November 20, 2010 was boycotted by late President Bingu wa Mutharika who died of cardiac arrest on 5th April 2012 while in office.
During the installation of Nsangulufu Clement Mwakabanga III as Paramount Chief Kyungu 24 on 3rd June, 2012 at Kasoba grounds in Karonga, President Banda pledged to provide iron sheets for the to-be built Bishop’s House in the diocese.
PP sources in Karonga have revealed that Banda will also be present during the bishop’s 25th anniversary celebrations as a priest to be held on 3rd August next month at Bwiba where Karonga Diocese is also constructing its cathedral.
But Bishop Mtumbuka told Nyasa Times in an exclusive interview that whatever Presient Banda is doing is not a new phenomenon in the country.
“The pledge the State President made is similar to pledges made by her predecessors to other dioceses and churches. And she will not be the first State President to attend a jubilee celebration of a Catholic bishop in Malawi,” said Mtumbuka.
He added: “While the Diocese of Karonga greatly appreciates any assistance it receives, it is very able to take care of its affairs.”
A once very vocal socio-political commentator when he served the Catholic church in the country as an ordinary priest, the academician and former duputy vice chancellor of the Catholic University of Malawi said the reason behind his silence now is that “regarding national socio-economic challenges Catholic bishops in Malawi speak as a Conference and not as individuals.
“That is the standard procedure we follow. Consequently if and when they decide to do so the bishops will express their views regarding the responsiveness of the current government,” explained Mtumbuka, remembered for telling former President Bakili Muluzi in the face not to run for presidency in the 2009 elections.
Karonga Diocese is 3 years old.
Bishop Mtumbuka thanked people who have been supporting the diocese since its establishment on July 21, 2010 saying “the support of Christ’s faithful (clergy, religious and laity) in the Diocese of Karonga itself has been outstanding.”
He listed sending some priests for further studies, conducting pastoral trainings, starting the construction of the cathedral, starting the process of setting up a diocesan radio station-Tuntufye FM, commencement of the construction of St. Mary’s Girl’s Secondary School at Karonga Boma and St. Mauritius Secondary school near Lura in Rumphi as some of the main achievements in the last three years.