Catholic Bishops in Malawi have questioned the sincerity of the Tonse Alliance government on the implementation of austerity measures, fearing the measures were framed to punish ordinary Malawians while those in positions of authority swim in opulence.
They observed that there is glaring inconsistency in the application of the measures aimed to control public expenditure.
The revered men of God made the observation in their pastoral statement released on Monday.
The collared men of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) lamented that while the measures were a good idea to recover the ailing economy, they noted that the national political leadership and key government officials are not partaking in the pain the measures have caused on ordinary Malawians.
“A listening government truly in touch with people behaves in a fashion that is sensitive to the prevailing socio-economic realities. It was in this spirit that we welcomed the government’s expenditure control measures introduced mid this year as a necessary response to these realities,” reads part of the statement, which has been signed by ECM president Most Reverend George Desmond Tambala, ECM president, his vice Bishop Monfort Stima of Mangochi Diocese, Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre Archdiocese, Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa of Chikwawa Diocese, Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese, Right Reverend John Ryan of Mzuzu Diocese and Right Reverend Peter Chifukwa of Dedza Diocese.
The Catholic Bishops said the way the government is implementing the austerity measures has raised more questions than answers.
They asked, “What is happening on the ground leads Malawians to pose more and more disturbing questions; Isn’t the practice of the national political leadership and some key government officials plainly deviating from the so-called austerity measures? Is what we see happening a total show of hypocrisy? Isn’t the leadership of the country supposed to be exemplary on the expenditure control measures? Why are the leaders contradicting themselves and engaging and undertaking what Malawians perceive as unnecessary internal and external travels, and in some cases, with large entourages? Isn’t this acting in contradiction with their stated policy? Were the so-called austerity measures instituted in good faith and in pursuit of the common good?”
They called upon the government to consider such “disturbing questions and the right of Malawians to receive sober and informed answers from their leaders in such matters.”
The bishops also expressed fear that the impending Affordable Input Programme (AIP) could face more glitches than the previous one, citing poor planning and inadequate coordination, lack of proper review of AIP implementation in the previous season, poor information sharing to AIP stakeholders, and general uncertainty on the programme as some of the observable challenges as Malawians draw close to the next farming season.
“AIP programme does not inspire confidence in people for the coming growing season. The prospect of food insecurity looms large. We call on the government to act immediately and decisively to ensure that no one goes hungry,” they plead.
Speaking to Capital FM Radio on Tuesday morning, Chief Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information and Digitalization, Gospel Kazako, said the government always welcomes constructive criticism and advice from the Catholic Bishops.
Kazako reiterated that the Tonse government, under President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, is working tirelessly to address the social and economic challenges that have led to suffering among ordinary citizens.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :