BLANTYRE--A rotten government is maintained by rotten citizens who believe rottenness is a pleasured and desired state of affairs, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace – CCJP - of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi said Wednesday, in a veiled attack on the government of Pres Joyce Banda.
In a two-page statement titled "Assessing the Current socio-economic and political developments in Malawi in the spirit of continuing 'Reading the Signs of the Times', the commission, while giving credit to the government on "emerging positive trends," said it "noted several challenges that are negatively affecting the Malawian society."
"These worries and agonies are eating away the hope that most Malawians had in the emergence of a new Malawian political and economic order that would have enshrined better economic policies, empowering poor households , ensured safety and security for Malawians citizens, providing space for tolerance, harmony and development for all."
The CCJP, which represents the country's eight Catholic dioceses of Karonga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Dedza, Mangochi, Zomba, Blantyre and Chikwawa, said it believes remaining silent while Malawi was experiencing these challenges, "is committing a sin of omission."
It listed the following challenges:
--breakdown of security, hiring and firing of public workers,
--rise in cost of living, service delivery, water and electricity, scarcity of essential drugs and medicines,
--the spirit of constitionalism and respect for the rule of law, repealing of bad laws, separating the roles of the office of attorney general and the minister of justice and constitutional affairs,
--prospects of weakening the role of civil society organisations, seemingly increased and costly mobility of the president, lack of party ideologies and distinct policy direction,
--missing values of transparency and accountability in political parties, get rich quick syndrome and debate on tripartite elections,
--minimum agro-diverisification, extraction of natural resources and debate on minority rights.
Below are some of the highlights from the statement.
The Commission said the continued trend of self-aggrandisement where parties in government become richer all of a sudden was a "worrisome trend...it entails abuse of public or state resources, in turn minimising equal levels of competition during campaigns."
It said Malawi needed political parties that are prudent and respect the state resources in view of national development."We need parties that respect fiscal measures without creating poverty for political reasons of holding poor citizens into a vicious dependency of political masters."
DEBATE ON MINORITY RIGHTS
The commission said the current debate on decriminalise homosexuality is a "highly charged one" that can’t be resolve d through threats or intimidation and similarly not shutting out other views.
"We are of the view that advocacy work that does not scratch where it is itching is irrelevant, hence if the debate is uprooted from the existing socio-cultural and political context, we will be adressing issues that are not burning in our society."
DEBATE ON TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS
"We call upon parliament, the executive, political parties and CSOs to honestly debate and finalise the vain talking so that democracy wins by the end of the day and that in May 2014, we hold tripartite elections so that the presidency, parliament and local assemblies are operational in anchoring development and democratisation processes where citizens meaningfully participate in deciding their politcal and developmental destiny."
SEEMINGLY INCREASED AND COSTLY MOBILITY OF THE PRESIDENT
We also note that every day the president has an activity in one place or another in the country or outside the country.Whilst some of these activities are important, we note that some of them could ably be covered by other responsible government officers like the cabinet ministers and principal secretaries.
The CCJP, in conclusion, said it recognised the importance of "reasoning together to build a better Malawi just as it recognises that one hand does not clap."
It said a "listening government" takes people's views on board whilst "putting actions into place to remeedy people's challenges."
SITTING ON LIVE BOMB
It added: We are not not yet in paradise hence we do not have any reasons to relax and satisfy ourselves that all is well.The current trend is indicative that Malawi is siting on a live bomb, which may explode.
"We need to read the writings on the wall and respond with actions that encourage participation, responsive actions and encourage debate without compromising the quality for better life."
In a poetic end, the Commission said: "Let those who have ears hear and eyes see; we are still reading the signs of the times."
"Reading the Signs of the Times" was the controversial title of the 2010 pastoral letter issued by the Bishops which angered the late President Bingu wa Mutharika as he also attcaked the bishops.
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