Vice-President Saulos Chilima yesterday read out a letter from Catholic bishops asking their flock to take part in the December 13 nationwide demonstrations to push government to table Electoral Reforms Bills, including the 50+1 provision.
Chilima, a devout Catholic, was one of the faithful that attended the 9.30am Mass at St Patrick’s Parish in Area 18 in Lilongwe where he usually congregates.
Several people who attended the service corroborated that Chilima read out the letter from the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and made it clear at the onset that he was not adding or subtracting any content.
Said one faithful: “Of course, we saw nothing strange in him reading the letter. On the roster, he was due to do the day’s readings and announcements anyway.”
Yet another faithful said much as the letter had already gone viral on social media on Saturday, the message coming from Chilima carried a bigger impact.
Remarking on the development, the Office of the Vice-President, through press officer Pilirani Phiri, said: “The Vice-President read [the day’s] church announcements and this was just one of the issues on the list of 15 items.”
The letter from ECM addressed to parish priests informed them about the marches organised by the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) which the bishops endorsed at their meeting held from November 28 to 30.
The bishops asked their faithful to mobilise all Catholics and people of goodwill within dioceses and parishes to participate in the marches, but also to pray for the nation and its leadership and take part in the marches in the spirit of active citizenship.
On the same day, the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi also asked its followers to participate in the marches.
A letter from the diocese’s bishop the Reverend Fanuel Magangani addressed to priests in-charge, guilds and all members reproduced the call by PAC to its members, urging them to congregate at four points in the country’s cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba.
The call to take part in the marches has come at a time when there is waning commitment from the government to table the Electoral Reform Bills as earlier promised.
There is no indication of when the Bills will be brought before Parliament with 10 days left before the meeting rises. n