There seems to be no end in sight to troubles engulfing the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire (Adus) after a meeting convened by the head of the church in Central Africa on Tuesday failed to break the standoff.
During the meeting, the Zambian-based Archbishop and Primate of the church in Central Africa Province Albert Chama told representatives of the disgruntled parishioners he could not remove their Bishop Brighton Malasa without following the church’s doctrines.
The meeting, which lasted for about three hours, took place at Adus headquarters at Chilema in Zomba and was attended by over 70 senior parish representatives, including wardens and priests.
The church’s laity and priests in the diocese rebelled against Malasa and demanded his removal from office for allegedly abusing funds, being greedy and power hungry.
While confirming the meeting in an interview on Wednesday, chairperson of the Anglican Council in Malawi Bishop Fanuel Magangani declined to comment, saying he did not attend it because the archbishop’s visit to Malawi was specifically to “interact with his flock in Upper Shire Diocese”.
“I can indeed confirm that His Grace came to Upper Shire in view of the unresolved issues. So, in a nutshell, I am waiting to be briefed on what transpired by the office of the Archbishop,” said Magangani, who is Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi.
Following the wrangles, bishops of the Anglican Council in Malawi commissioned Bishop Alinafe Kalemba of the Diocese of Southern Malawi to mediate in the issue and find a solution. The bishop was also part of Tuesday’s meeting with the archbishop.
But when contacted on Wednesday, Kalemba simply said: “The office of the Archbishop will issue a communiqué on the matter, so there is nothing I can say.”
The Nation further sought Archbishop Chama’s comment on the matter in a telephone interview from Zambia but he declined to say anything.
“These are internal issues. We don’t discuss them in newspapers because we have our internal processes that we use and follow,” he said.
The rebellion against Bishop Malasa was advanced by St George’s Parish of Zomba following a meeting of representatives from the diocese’s 37 out of 41 parishes it hosted in December last year.
St George’s Parish warden Liz Chikoti said the meeting with the archbishop was a step in the right direction but the petitioners still felt the issue was yet to be resolved.
“The petitioners feel the issue has not been resolved because what they got [from the archbishop] was not what they were expecting,” she said.
Chikoti said the archbishop stated he could not remove Malasa without following steps as per the doctrines of the Anglican Church in the province.
“He said the issues need to be thoroughly investigated, especially on finances, and then he would commission an external audit before any decision could be made,” she explained.
During the meeting on Tuesday, some youths who went to observe the proceedings nearly caused havoc when they started chanting anti-Malasa songs and deflated tyres of his official vehicle, a Toyota Hilux Double Cabin registration ZA 4614, while the meeting was in progress.
On January 17 this year, over 200 disgruntled Christians who included priests, sealed Malasa’s offices with iron bars demanding his immediate resignation, but the bishop removed the bars a few hours later.
Last month, the archbishop appointed Bishop William Mchombo to mediate in the long-standing matter but the meeting failed to take place. Mchombo attended the Tuesday meeting.