Economy issues raised in a pastoral letter issued by Bishops of the Catholic Church in the country dominated the headlines in Malawi dailies on Monday.
The bishops’ epistle talked tough against the prevailing socio-political and economic issues facing the country.
“Bishops chide govt on economy” screamed the headline in The Daily Times reporting what the bishops said that they are worried by continuous presentation of unrealistic macroeconomic growth indicators that do not reflect the reality on the ground.
Under the headline ” Catholic bishops attribute poverty to wrong economic choices b-leaders” the The Nation reported that a pastoral statement the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) released Sunday under the theme ‘Mercy of God as a Path of Hope’, read out in Catholic Churches nationwide, the bishops said the poverty the country is facing is a direct consequence of wrong economic choices made by those in power
The bishops also said existing inequalities between the rich and the poor in both urban and rural settings is not the only social injustice which calls for their moral concern.
“We are also deeply worried by the bad performance of our economy. Thirdly, we are deeply concerned with the shortage of maize in the country, the exorbitant prices of the same at the parallel markets of vendors due to increased demand,” the papers quoted the pastoral letter.
The Nation highlighted that Malawi is currently facing high inflation rate at 24.5 percent, high lending rates hovering around 40 percent in commercial banks, an unstable local currency that, however, last week showed signs of stability and recovery and a food shortage that has put 2.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
The bishops have said the present circumstances require government to review some of its policies and practices to achieve a change of mindset and attitudes to ensure national and household food security, social security, protection of the environment through promotion of alternative sources of energy and many other areas.
They have also called upon all Malawians of goodwill to by work together to implement the national agenda.
Chancellor College political analyst Boniface Dulani is quoted saying the issues tackled in the statement has the potential to make a difference to the prevailing socio-political and economic challenges.
He said this is the case because of the Catholic Church’s influence in society as it has the largest following among all the different religious groups.
Dulani also said the Catholic bishops have demonstrated in the past that they can have an influential role in the political sphere, going back to the Lenten pastoral letter of 1991 – Living our faith.
He noted that the bishops’ call for transformative and visionary leadership “sounded like they are questioning the credentials of the current administration [of Peter Mutharika] or at least calling upon the leadership to demonstrate that they can be transformative.”
Dulani said: “ This is similar to 1992 [when Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter led to the ousting of Dictator Kamas Banda].” said Dulani.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango was coy to give an immediate comment.
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