The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Franci Kasaila said government has welcomed the criticism from Catholic bishops in the country on discontent about social and economic conditions in the country.
The letter issued on Sunday calls for a “new era” in the country and comes ahead of Malawi’s 2019 Tripartite elections.
The nation’s Catholic hierarchy called on Malawians to help create a new era, where truth, fairness and respect for the dignity of all are observed.
In his reaction, Kasaila said the DPP-led government will work on the shortfalls pointed out.
Kasaila, who is also Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development, said government values the role various churches and religious groupings in the country play in directing its endeavours, saying they are like a ‘good’ referee who directs for proper direction.
He said the pastoral lette, which also points out some intra party highlights, gave a clear indication that the Catholic Church in the country values the importance of democracy.
“The intra party highlights raised in the Catholic Bishops pastoral letter are essential to all political parties to improve and help to shape the country’s democracy.
“As a country and after 25 years after attaining democracy, we are still learning and I believe there will be quite good improvements, but all we need is tolerance as a country and live to a dream of wanting to see a developed Malawi,” said Kasaila in remarks quoted by official news agency, Mana.
The minister, however, said the DPP-led government values the advice it gets from church leaders whom he described as referees that are there to shape the country’s democracy.
The influential Catholic bishops underscore the importance of intra-party democracy, saying it is mainly through their chosen political parties that Malawians find full expression of their political rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Regretfully, most if not all political parties in Malawi, have since 1993 failed to promote intra-party democracy,” say the bishops, further drawing Malawians’ attention to their 2008 Pastoral Letter titled Taking Responsibility for Our Future and Reading the Signs of the Times.
Among a list of examples of lack of intra-party democracy in the parties, the bishops say, key decisions are made by the party leader alone and sometimes only upon consultation with cronies, hangers-on or tribesmen.
They warn that the country cannot expect party leaders who stifle intra-party democracy to suddenly become democrats once they are in government.
But the bishops also warn that the success of entrenching democracy in the country largely depends on citizens’ understanding and participating in democracy.
Towards the end of the chapter the bishops warn about what they call ‘the big man syndrome’, which they say is seen in the extensive appointing powers of the president of party officials and tribesmen to government departments and agencies.
“This gives the impression that government only exists to benefit a connected few,” the bishops say, adding that clearly there are not enough checks and balances, and proper separation of powers among the three main branches of government.
They further advise the country’s leadership at all levels to revisit their constitutional mandate, which is to govern solely for the benefit of the people of Malawi, and to appreciate that they hold their positions on trust.
The opposition political parties represented in Parliament, notably Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF), described the letter as a timely guidance to Malawians as they go to the polls next year.
The pastoral letter has described the forthcoming tripartite elections as an opportunity and a challenge to Malawians, urging them to vote for a leader whose qualities they said include honesty, transformational leadership, selflessness, willingness to step down, above tribal/regional political interests and genuinely God-fearing.
“This means wisely choosing servant leaders who can become heroic agents of change,”, adding that these will be the heroes not only for the deeds they do but for the stand they take on unpopular issues.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :