Malawi’s Catholic Bishops Decry Rampant Corruption, Urge Judiciary to “act with integrity”

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM). Credit: Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Communications

Catholic Bishops in Malawi have decried rampant corruption in the Southern African nation and called on the judiciary to find a practical justice system that will serve all Malawians. 

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) address the issues in a Sunday, March 6 pastoral statement commemorating 30 years of the Catholic Bishops’ 1992 Pastoral Letter, Living Our Faith.

In the 1992 Pastoral Letter, Catholic Bishops in Malawi criticized former President Hastings Kamuzu Banda's one-party state under Malawi Congress Party (MCP). 

Following the letter that contributed to the country’s multi-party democracy, the Catholic Church leaders in Malawi were questioned for hours.

“We appeal to the Judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are expedited and that everyone is seen to be treated fairly and similarly before the law,” the Catholic Bishops in Malawi say in their March 6 collective statement. 


They say members of the judiciary “should always act with integrity guided by the principles that govern this noble profession."

ECM members add that the judiciary “must avoid making suspicious and questionable judgements and pronouncements, which are seen neither to be promoting justice nor fighting corruption.”

“Loss of public trust in law enforcement agencies and the Judiciary fuels mob justice, public anger and is a recipe for civil disorder,’ Catholic Bishops in Malawi say. 

By treating everyone fairly, ECM members say, "The judiciary will build confidence that it is playing its role in a constructive way." 

In the March 6 pastoral letter, the Catholic Church leaders express concern about the looting of public resources in the Southern African country. 

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“As Catholic Bishops, we, together with all concerned Malawians, are deeply shocked and dismayed by the recent revelations concerning the plunder of public resources by foreign nationals in partnership with corrupt politicians and civil servants,” they say. 

The Bishops raise their concern at a time when members of different civil Society groups in Malawi have taken to the streets to express displeasure with graft, including the action Ashok Nair, graft suspect, has taken to drag Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General, Martha Chizuma, to court for defamation over a leaked audio clip.

In the January clip, Ms. Chizuma allegedly told a senior government official that a High Court judge granted Nair bail in exchange for a bribe.

In their March 6 statement, the Catholic Bishops in Malawi say the graft revelations "should serve as an opportunity for us as a country to demonstrate concretely that our battle against corruption is not just mere lip service but a genuine and relentless fight to eliminate this cancer in our country." 

ECM members further say they are disappointed by “some greedy Malawians (who) are siding with those responsible for the plunder of resources instead of siding with the poor who are victims of corruption." 


They add that the Head of State has been slow in dealing with graft "despite having the necessary legal powers, authority and information."

Similar to previous regimes, the Catholic Bishops say, President Lazarus Chakwera-led government has continued with "the politics of appeasement and patronage."

The patronage and appeasements are "particularly true" in the appointments of Chief Executive Officers to various parastatals, the Catholic Church leaders say, and add, "It is our view that resolving these issues immediately requires forthright executive political leadership that would intervene in ways that would promote integrity, uprightness and the rule of law."

"We believe that a President who campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption, and promised to deal with the vice, will not keep any of his ministers and aides when there is sufficient information about their involvement in corruption," ECM members say. 

They add that the country's leadership needs to "intervene and provide the necessary executive political leadership." 

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To save the Southern African nation from corruption which "causes untold suffering for the vast majority of ordinary Malawians who face crushing poverty on a daily basis," the Catholic Bishop call on all people of God in the country to unite in the fight against the vice. 

"Let us all say No to corruption," they say, adding, "Let no agent of corruption, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected, provided that he or she is given proper recourse to the legal processes of the courts." 

ECM members also express their support for those who have risked their lives by standing against graft saying "they are shining examples of St. Paul's exhortation: ‘Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.’”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.