Malawi Government draw battle lines against Catholic Bishops organisation

State-funded NGO Regulatory Authority (NGORA) has accused Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) of noncompliance, alleging that the association of the Catholic Bishops in Malawi failed to file audited financial statements and annual reports for activities undertaken in 2021.

The Authority, in its letter dated December 6, 2022, further alleges that ECM did not provide it with annual return reflecting details of the association’s trustees, directors and auditors, and source of funding.

ACB Director General Martha Chizuma

The allegations have been brought to light barely hours after the Catholic Bishops in Malawi released a press statement on Monday, December 12, 2022, in which they expressed their frustration with the controversial arrest of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma.

The collared men – led by Most Reverend George Desmond Tambala of the Archdiocese of Lilongwe – said they were disturbed with revelations that President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera did not have any knowledge about the Chizuma’s arrest.

The bishops further state that they are baffled that the operation involving the arrest of a high profile official in the government and involving a legitimate organ of the state like the police was happening without the people that ordinarily would be expected to know.

“We cannot, but join many Malawians, who in their disbelief, are wondering who is really in-charge of affairs of this country. Much as we applaud the government for assuring Malawians that it is on top of the matter, yet the question that will bother the minds of Malawians remains: Is this not only a cosmetic way of assuring the nation that the government is in control?” reads the statement in part.

The Catholic Bishops in Malawi end their statement with a call to President Chakwera to ‘live up to the role of the fight against corruption, as we recommended in our last statement; “all duty-bearers in the fight against corruption must systematically collaborate to combat this destructive social evil”.

But a day hardly passed before the NGORA’s warning to ECM about noncompliance was also made public. It is, however, not clear whether the leaking of the warning has been made to discredit ECM or not.

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