Let’s “all fulfill our mandate”: Catholic Bishop in Malawi on Africa’s Debt Crisis

A poster announcing the two-day Malawi Conference on Debt and Development at Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe. Credit: Luntha Television.

Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of Malawi’s Karonga Diocese is calling upon African governments, development partners, civil societies, the private sector, and creditors to do what’s expected of them to address the debt crisis in the world’s second-largest continent.

Speaking during the Conference on Debt and Development that the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) organized in partnership with the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), Bishop Mtumbuka underlined the need for “mutual trust” in addressing Africa’s debt crisis.

“The agenda that is before us requires that we all contribute towards finding a solution, which means we must all fulfill our mandate,” the Malawian Catholic Bishop who is the Board Chairperson of MEJN said during the event held at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi, under the theme, “Shaping our Development Destiny”.

He added, “Due to the magnitude of this problem, the issue of debt that we are talking about needs mutual trust among all players for a solution to be found and there must be grounds for trusting one another.”

Bishop Mtumbuka explained, “Let all of us do something because, at the end of the day, the debt that we are complaining about is affecting all of us and certain sectors of our society in a much more severe way.”


He went on to urge those at the helm of African nations “to be precise of what they want to say, and say so to their people in case of financial restructuring.”

“Leaders must recognize the potential of available resources to address social-economic challenges and leverage regional resources for development,” he added during the two-day conference scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, July 26.

At the conference that had some representatives of Malawi’s civil society organizations and government officials in attendance, the Catholic Church said utilizing and investing in available natural resources in Africa such as minerals can spur economic growth on the continent.

“Our focus should be on a growing economy; this means we cannot afford to have our generated revenue from our resources being consumed by debts,” he said at the conference that MEJN, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) dedicated to promoting good economic governance, organized.

Using the example of Malawi among other African countries, Bishop Mtumbuka said, “Debt repayment is choking delivery of public services and the cost of servicing external and domestic debt now exceeds expenditures on health, education, and social protection combined.”

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However, despite the debt crisis in Malawi and other African countries, the Catholic Bishop said that “it is still important to be intentional as leaders and deliver what our communities need.”

To realize a more inclusive and responsible global financial status, he advocated for comprehensive reforms of the local and international agencies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The Local Ordinary of Karonga Diocese who will turn 66 on August 5 urged the government of Malawi in particular to utilize the financial dialogue at the conference to realize its 2063 development aspiration.

“Conferences like this one provide an ideal platform to exchange experiences learned from one another and develop noble and practical ideas,” Bishop Mtumbuka said during his July 25 input, and added, “This gathering primarily seeks to provide a platform for honest dialogue for the country to take its destiny into its own hands by making considerations against all odds.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.