Malawi govt funded AMECEA Catholic conference

The national purse continues to deplete unnecessarily as the new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) clocks slightly over two months in government. Malawi taxpayers were recently called upon, secretly, to hugely finance an AMECEA conference when it was not a Malawi Government event but a regional meeting of the Catholic Church. It was held in Lilongwe from July 16 to 26, 2014.

AMECEA is an acronym for “Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa”. It is an organization of Catholic Bishops of eight countries in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa—Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members.

According to inside sources at Sunbird Tourism, managers of a chain of hotels and resorts in Malawi, the Malawi Government has paid Sunbird Capital and Sunbird Lilongwe (hotels) not less than K30 million for food, accommodation and other expenses on behalf of the delegates and the host Catholic Church in Malawi.

Mutharika and one of the Catholic clerics during Amecea
Mutharika and one of the Catholic clerics during Amecea

The sources wondered why Malawi Government should be responsible for settling hotel bills when the Episcopal Conference of Malawi had requested the Catholic faithful in Malawi to donate “generously”.

A special current ECM-AMECEA 2014 Account; number 1000211644 was opened at National Bank, Lilongwe Branch for purposes of mobilizing resources for the meeting.

“I can inform you that at Sunbird Capital, we received initial payment of K15 million just before the end of the conference with a balance of another K15 million. The balance was settled a few days after the conference ended,” said a source at the hotel, adding that other high-ranking delegates were booked at Sunbird Lilongwe.

“Undoubtedly, more government money may also have been paid to Sunbird Lilongwe,” he said.

Cardinals, Bishops and other high-ranking Catholics from 127 Dioceses in the AMECEA region were expected to attend the meeting in Malawi.

The DPP regime has lately come under fire for its extravagance against the backdrop of a deteriorating social and economic situation in the country.

President Peter Mutharika, for instance, has been criticized for hiring a huge number of advisors; unnecessary dismissal of public servants, which attracts huge compensation; and lately travelling to the United States of America for a US-Africa Summit with a 50-member entourage.

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