The Catholic Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi – in their 2022 Pastoral Letter – called on the judiciary to be “a workable justice system for all”.
To celebrate Lent, the Catholic Bishops read their Pastoral Letter today, March 6, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of the “Living Our Faith” document which was written in 1992.
The March 8, 1992 Pastoral Letter that the Bishops wrote criticized the one-party state of the late President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which ultimately brought the country into a multi-party democracy.
Under “New Evils in Our Country,” the current bishops reminded the nation that the 1992 pastoral letter drew attention to an important arm of government – the judiciary, “which is responsible for the administration of justice.” .
“They lamented the way justice seemed to be aborted by selectively administering the privileged and powerful in society.
“In this area, we must salute the Justice system which has, on several occasions recently, demonstrated that it acts with the independence required and expected of it.
“However, as has always been the case, there are unfortunately some whose actions, decisions and judgments threaten to tarnish the image of the justice system.
“The judiciary must always remember that it has a key role to play in the administration of justice and in particular in the fight against corruption.
“In this regard, we call on the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are expedited and that everyone is seen to be treated fairly and similarly before the law.
“It builds public confidence that the judiciary is also playing its role in a constructive way. Corruption.”
The judiciary is under scrutiny with accusations of involvement in corruption – an allegation it strongly denies – following the events surrounding the arrest of Ashok, who was later released on bail, which the Anti-Corruption Bureau had firmly rejected.
Following the granting of bail, ACB chief executive Martha Chizuma came under fire when she leaked confidential information regarding the corruption probe in which she accused the judiciary of being bribed to get Ashok out on bail.
Ashok sued Chizuma for defamation, saying his remarks in the audio that went viral on social media portrayed him as “an extremely corrupt person” and that he “bribed a judge to get him released”.
This action by Ashok shocked people which led political, economic and social rights activist, Ken Msonda, to explosively plead with Malawians to stand firm with Chizuma.
Ms Msonda, while assuring the public that concerned Malawians have stepped up to protect Chizuma and her office, implored the judiciary not to entertain any suspected corrupt individual to seek judicial interventions.
He took cognizance of the fact that, yes, legal advisers are in business and are drawn to huge sums of money to help these corrupt individuals defend them, but they should also consider that the money that they would eventually paid for their services is stolen from poor Malawians.
He urged them to apply wisdom and not just legal knowledge, even though the law states that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court.
Thus, the Bishops, in their Pastoral Letter, say, “Loss of public confidence in law enforcement and the judiciary fuels mob justice, public anger and is a recipe for civil disorder.”
“Our plea is that the judiciary should always act with integrity guided by the principles that govern this noble profession.”
Citing the Bible of Micah 6, 8; “Love tenderly, act justly, walk humbly with your God,” the bishops said. The issues raised require continued reflection and action.
“Following Jesus, the believing community is invited, and sometimes obliged in justice, to manifest in action a preferential love for the poor, the oppressed and the voiceless.
“To love tenderly, to act justly, and to walk humbly with God” today especially means exposing, uncovering and uprooting corruption – the cancer that is largely responsible for keeping this country very poor and underdeveloped.
“Corruption causes untold suffering for the vast majority of ordinary Malawians who face crushing poverty on a daily basis.
“In the interests of building a more just and transparent Malawi that benefits all its citizens, that no corrupt agent, however powerful, wealthy or otherwise connected, be shielded or shielded, provided that he has an appropriate recourse to the legal proceedings of the courts.
“We support and applaud those who risk while opposing corruption. They are vivid examples of St. Paul’s exhortation: “Participate not in fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5.11) Let’s all say “NO” to corruption.
“The Catholic Bishops, thirty years ago, emphasized that by living our faith through what we do, we will build a better Malawi for all.
“Why haven’t we lived our faith well in the activities and programs we have been carrying out for all these years?
“As we move forward, what can we do to fulfill the aspirations of the Bishops in 1992 and have a better Malawi for all?
“May the Lenten call to conversion and our celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter mark the beginning of a new dawn for all Malawians.
“May Saint Joseph, the foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ, watch over our country and obtain from God a spirit of integrity, patriotism, love and peace for all Malawians and for the whole of the humanity.
Signed by Bishop George Tambala (President, Archbishop of Lilongwe and Apostolic Administrator of Zomba); Very Reverend Montfort Stima (Vice-President and Bishop of Mangochi); Bishop Thomas Msusa (Blantyre); Very Reverend Martin Mtumbuka (Karonga); Most Reverend Peter Musikuwa (Chikwawa); The Very Reverend John Ryan (Mzuzu) and The Very Reverend Peter Chifukwa (Dedza).