Sunday, December 1, 2013
CATHOLIC BISHOPS' STATEMENT ON PLUNDERING OF PUBLIC FUNDS
We,Catholic Bishops of Malawi, have followed with great concern events surrounding the revelations of what appears to be massive looting of public resources dubbed as “Capital Hill Cash-gate”. We have taken time to understand what is happening, to ponder and pray over these revelations and we are still shocked that such things could happen in this God-fearing country.
This scandal is an embarrassment to the country and an indication of serious moral decadence and dwindling levels of patriotism
in our country. We are dismayed that materialism, corruption and get-rich-quick syndrome seem to be on the rise at the expense of
truth, honesty and hard working.
It is in this context, that we your pastors humbly but truthfully propose a critical reflection on the issues relating to this
scandal, the impact of the looting , and call for appropriate, proportionate and timely actions.
THE ISSUES AT STAKE
We note in this scandal the following:
•huge sums of public resources have been swindled for purely selfish gains at the expense of service delivery;
•a syndicate organized and cooperated to loot public resources pointing to a structural and entrenched way in which evil has taken root in our midst;
•the financial management structures and systems have been rendered powerless largely because of human machinations and lack of human integrity.
IMPACT OF THE LOOTING
Whilst we acknowledge the efforts already underway to get to the depth of this scandal by the Government, civil society, development partners and Malawi citizens at large, we feel it is important to highlight the following:
the pangs of poverty are likely to intensify as the cost of living keeps running high as a combined effect of lack of effective people centered policies and the looting of public resources;
the withdrawal of budget support by donors will have an obvious inflationary effect, which will further lead to economic hardships as prices of goods and services take a corresponding rise;
the forex gap that will be created as donors withhold budgetary support means that the country will struggle to cover costs for importation of critical goods like medicines and agriculture items, especially at this time when the economy is getting into the lean season;
ordinary Malawians and taxpayers will suffer a multiple times from this crisis:
first, they have been swindled of their scarce public funds;
secondly, the same taxpayers will have to face scaling down of development and service delivery activities due to the expenditure cuts;
finally, ordinary people will have to pay for the costs of all the prosecution, court processes, and other investigations whose costs need to be shouldered using public resources.
OUR CALL FOR ACTION
Following the foregone reflection, we call for the following:
Tangible and verifiable confidence-building steps should be taken lest ordinary people are subjected to further injustices by financing further looting;
•Let investigations be done with the swiftness they deserve so that the findings help government to take concrete actions that will build public confidence;
•Let government officers humbly acknowledge their moral responsibility in this scam;
•A process to reclaim the looted property and cash should be embarked upon as this will help to complete the equation of economic and social justice by acting beyond the arrests, and ensuring that the resources are returned to ordinary Malawians who
are the ultimate victims of the ‘Cash gate’ scandal;
•Let the government open up a nd listen attentively and honestly to the cries and frustration of the people emanating from this crisis.
The cooperating partners under the Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) should timely and effectively find a way of
providing their resources to the people of Malawi while government is trying to put its systems in order, the ordinary Malawian citizen should not continue to suffer the negative effects of aid delay or freeze.
•Malawians in general need a deep soul searching and a genuine repentance remembering that, regarding public resources, much as we are accountable to the citizenry of this country, it is finally to God that we are accountable;
•Those involved in this malpractice should immediately stop doing so as this contravenes the commandments of God and stands in the way of development and mutual respect befitting sons and daughters of God;
•Financial control mechanisms and systems finally fall or stand on the integrity of the people behind them and hence the need for faithful God-fearing stewards;
•We call upon priests and religious not to use the ‘Cash gate’crisis to advance partisan interests but to recall what we have said many times that the role of the Catholic Church is not to make particular political choices for people.
The ‘Cash gate’ scandal is of serious concern for us. We reiterate our condemnation of the immoral acts and express our solidarity with all those engaged in positive actions so that Malawi does not continue to lose opportunities for growth in all aspects.
The social ill facing our country will not be overcome solely by political or social remedies because, for us, the true nature of the evil facing Malawi is moral.
“The principle obstacle to be overcome on the way to authentic liberation is sin and the structures produced by sin as it
multiplies and spreads”
1. The sins of individuals and the sinful structures built into systems actually reinforce one another –“and thus they grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people’s behaviour.”
2. As a God-fearing nation, we call Malawians towards an immediate moral and spiritual conversion.
Right Reverend Joseph M. Zuza, Chairman and Bishop of Mzuzu
Right Reverend Thomas Msusa, Vice Chairman and Archbishop designate of Blantyre
Most Reverend Tarcisius G. Ziyaye, Archbishop of Lilongwe
Right Reverend Peter Musikuwa, Bishop of Chikwawa
Right Reverend Emmanuel Kanyama, Bishop of Dedza
Right Reverend Alessandro Pagani, Bishop of Mangochi
Right Reverend Martin Mtumbuka, Bishop of Karonga
Right Reverend Montfort Stima, Diocesan Administrator and Auxiliary Bishop of Blantyre
Dated: First Sunday of Advent, 1 December,