Catholic bishops petition President Mutharika

Malawi’s Roman Catholic Bishops met President Bingu wa Mutharika at New State House in Lilongwe to present a petition and express their worries in person to him over things newly happening in Malawi, Nyasa Times understands

This meeting was preceeded by an emergency meeting of the bishops at the Catholic Secretariat in Lilongwe on Thursday.

Although the President met the bishops of the influential church, he refused to meet them privately as is usualy the case.

“The President was therefore flanked by deputy minister in his office Nicholas Dausi and Rev.  Billy Gama, the presidential advisor on Religious matters.”

This, according to sources, did not please the bishops but they still went on with the meeting at which they presented a written petition.

Catholic bishops met Mutharika

Contents of the petition could not be independently verified but sources said they reprimanded Mutharika on government’s poor governance.

A larger part of the Malawian population, human rights activists, and many stakeholders have expressed worry over the manner that governance is being handled in the country – fearing dictatorship was creeping into the leadership.

The nine Catholic bishops made a stinging criticism through a Lenten letter earlier this year on various governance issues of he administration of Mutharika, saying his government “lacks proper consultations on national issues.”

The bishops, in a pastoral statement titled ‘Reading the Signs of the Times’, said certain areas had become the “grief and anguish” of the Malawians.

Currently, Malawi is going through the worse economic crisis as donors have closed their aid taps due to governance concerns and deteriorating human rights.

There was no immediate response from State House.

Mutharika, also a Catholic but who ends his five-year two-terms in 2014, gets angry with what he calls “negative reporting” of his administration, saying he needs to be extolled for making Malawi a hunger-free nation with his popular fertiliser subsidy programme that has seen bumper crop harvests the past five years.

The bishops were credited for openly challenging the dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda, leading to the introduction of the first multi-party elections in 1994 won by Bakili Muluzi.

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