Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and opposition parties have described as timely the Catholic Bishop’s Pastoral Letter issued on Sunday, saying it reflects the widespread discontent about social and economic conditions in the country.
Commentators The Nation spoke to noted that Malawi’s political leaders take advantage of poverty and illiteracy among the masses to advance their agenda in total disregard of their call to govern for the advancement and prosperity of the populace.
In the letter read in Catholic churches nationwide yesterday titled A Call For A New Era In Malawi, the bishops stressed that Malawi needs a change of direction.
They called on Malawians to help create a new era, where truth, fairness and respect for the dignity of all are observed.
Reacting to the letter, PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said his institution has always called for transformational leadership, which he noted, continues to lack in this country.
He said: “We want Malawi to be corruption-free with leaders that will not promote regionalism, tribalism, nepotism, but those that work on merit.”
In separate interviews, 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.
MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said the party will align itself with the needs and wants of the letter so that it gets elected into government.
He said: “The letter from the bishops is timely, adequate, relevant and addresses things that this country is going through. We have read the letter, word for word, and we will reflect on it and in as much as possible try to align ourselves with the letter because it has spelt out criteria for selection of leadership.”
UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said the bishops’ letter tackled more or less the same issues contained in UDF’s Agenda for Change campaign mounted during the 2014 elections campaign.
He said: “We want when people are going to register for elections, they should already have in mind the type of leadership they want and by the time they will be going to vote, they would have thought through on the kind of leadership they want.
“At times, what makes us to vote for a particular individual or a political party, are things that I would call cheap, not programmes or philosophies that will take this country far.”
Ndanga, whose party is a political bed-fellow of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Parliament, said the citizenry should reflect on the letter and see if it can be used to make the country a better place to live in.
On his part, PP deputy spokesperson Ackson Kalaile-Banda said the country has been voting for wrong leaders because regional politics has been at play.
While DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila did not pick up his phone on several attempts, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said government would not comment on the letter,
Meanwhile, Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa bemoaned leadership failure in the country.
He noted that politicians were taking advantage of high illiteracy levels to advance their self-enriching agenda, sending many people into the abyss of poverty.
The Pastoral Letter came two days after civil society organistions (CSOs) staged protests in the country’s major cities, through which they gave President Peter Mutharika and his government 90 days to solve socio-economic challenges.
The Catholic bishops’ 1992 Pastoral Letter, Living Our Faith, is widely regarded to have influenced the wind of political change that ended the one-party dictatorship of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda and MCP.