Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter proposes Parliament to enact a constitutional framework for coalition governments

In their Pastoral Letter that was read today, March 6, in the celebration of Lent, Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi Electoral said since the 2020 fresh presidential election which ushered in new leadership under President Lazarus Chakwera, “the country is engulfed in endless political bickering — especially among the political groups that comprise the Tonse Alliance”.

“This bickering projects to the public a lack of cohesion within the Alliance and a sense of no direction,” says the Letter under the theme: ‘Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Living Our Faith; New Ills in our Country’.

Chakwera and Chilima side by side till 2025

The theme is a reference to the 1992 Pastoral Letter the Bishops wrote that criticised former President late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s one party state under Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that eventually culminated into the country in a multi-party democracy.

Under the subtitle of New Ills, Sunday’s Pastoral Letter says the “endless political bickering” in the Tonse Alliance “feeds into the popular discourse and fuel an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability which has disastrous economic effects”.

“In this regard there is urgent need for the alliance partners to draw up joint programmes of action for the remainder of the government term. The lack of such programmes is fuelling public dissatisfaction.

“Such programmes can facilitate accountability and actions that are based on electoral manifestos and pledges of the individual parties. This can help to fulfil the need for an inclusive socio-economic development strategy for this country.

“Furthermore, there is need to create a management framework for the Alliance to bring cohesion and direction in the political space.”

The Bishops are of the view that in the future the 50% +1 electoral formula for the election of the President that was adopted in 2020 “is unlikely to have a Government that will comprise one political party only”.

“Electoral alliances are likely to become the order of the day and so too are coalition governments. We note, however, that the country lacks a legal framework for coalition governments.

“We, therefore, call upon Parliament to put in place a legal framework for coalition governments.

“From time immemorial, it is a well-known fact that how political power is configured and exercised can either bring about good developmental outcomes, effective service delivery and people-centred systems or it can bring about state predation, big man politics that prevent servant and people-centered leadership, corruption and kleptocracy.”

Main parties in the Tonse Alliance include Chakwera’s MCP; Vice-President Saulos Chilima UTM Party; former President Joyce Banda’s United Party and others.

The Bishops also criticised Chakwera’s administration as a “weak and indecisive leadership”, saying “decision making at the highest level of government is slow despite having the necessary legal powers, authority and information”.

“This is particularly true with respect to the fight against corruption. We believe that a President who campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption, and promised to deal with the vice, will not keep any of his ministers and aides when there is sufficient information about their involvement in corruption.

“Reports in the formal print media note that a significant number of statutory corporations, ministries, departments and agencies have some of their work stalled because they are waiting for guidance or approval from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), sometimes for as long as five months.

“That office, instead of being the centre of effective administration radiating the essence of servant leadership, has become a source of inefficiency and underperformance in the public service.

“The performance of the office and the competence and suitability of key persons manning the office should be urgently reviewed and decisive actions taken.”

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Sirgeoffrey MT
Sirgeoffrey MT
2 months ago

We can as well have one party system ma bishop ndi osokoneza kwambiri
1992 you thought you are changing things for the better look now where we are we have lost all the achievements we gained since independence

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