Catholic Bishop Suggests Debt Restructuring to Address Malawi’s Economic Hardships

Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese in Malawi. Credit: Karonga Diocese

The Catholic Bishop of Malawi’s Karonga Diocese has urged the government of Malawi to prioritize negotiations on restructuring the country’s debt to salvage the citizens of the country  from the economic hardships they are experiencing.

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 Martin Anwel Mtumbuka said the people in the rural areas are the ones bearing the brunt of economic hardship caused by the country’s increasing debt.

“We want to encourage the government to continue negotiating for the restructuring of this debt in Malawi,” Bishop Mtumbuka who was sharing insights on the role of faith-based community on the debt crisis in the Southern African nation said Wednesday, July 26 during the event held at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi.

He added, “Anything that we can do to add weight to what you are doing to lobby the international community that this debt should be restructured, we want to assure you of our full support, otherwise the lives of the local people will get far worse than it is at the moment.”

Malawi was reported in November last year to have started “credible debt restructuring negotiations with commercial creditors and also reached out to bilateral creditors including China and India.”


The Malawian Catholic Bishop who is the Board Chairperson of MEJN, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) dedicated to promoting good economic governance in Malawi shared the concerns of the faith community on the implications of the hard economic situation to the people if not addressed.

“If the level of anger that is out there is not attended to, it will lead to civil disorder in this country and as a faith community, we don’t want it to happen that way,” the Local Ordinary of Karonga Diocese who also serves as the chairperson of the Pastoral Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) said.

In his address on the last day of the two-day conference that started Tuesday, July 25, Bishop Mtumbuka challenged the Malawian government to check on some aspects of its expenditure that may be contributing to the country’s economic crisis.

He urged the government to improve on the methods of tax collecting which he lamented that are only focused on those below the economic ladder as they struggle to make a living in their small businesses.

the Local Ordinary of Karonga Diocese who will turn 66 on August 5 called on the Malawian government to intensify the fight against corruption which he described as a contributor to the country’s economy hardships, and added, “The executive (arm of the government) must also have clear direction of the country, especially on how to get out her debt.”

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“We have employed one person who is the president and he must do his job, he is not in the state house as a volunteer, he must do his job,” Bishop Mtumbuka said at the event that was attended by some representatives of Malawi’s civil society organizations.

Calling on the legislature to scrutinize the country’s debts, the Catholic Bishop underlined the need for sensitivity in decision-making and how the decisions affect the poor.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with over half of its population (50.7 percent) living below the poverty line, the new World Bank Poverty Assessment Report released in November last year indicates.

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.