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Arab Spring coming to Malawi?: Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 6. January 14, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa.
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Bishop James Tengatenga

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The senior Anglican bishop of Malawi, the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, has denounced the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika as being out of touch and set on serving its own needs rather than those of the people.

It was “ridiculous” to “pretend that nothing is wrong in our country,” Bishop Tengatenga told worshipers in Blantyre on New Year’s Day. His sermon, which enjoyed wide circulation, suggests the social and political forces that unleashed the Arab Spring appear set to move south into Sub-Saharan Africa, sources in Malawi tell The Church of England Newspaper.
Popular discontent with the autocratic rule of the King of Swaziland is widespread and rumblings of discontent are beginning to be heard in Botswana. But Malawi witnessed a summer of anti-government protests with rioters looting shops and engaging in running battles with police.

Approximately 20 people died in anti-government clashes in July with police Lilongwe and Blantyre as demonstrators called for President Mutharika to resign. Tensions were eased when the president authorized a national dialogue with civil society leaders – including Bishop Tengatenga – to address anger over political and economic mismanagement.

Fuel shortages caused by a shortage of foreign currency have plagued Malawi for almost three years, but President Mutharika refused to follow the advice of the IMF and his economic advisors and devalue the Malawian currency, the Kwacha, to reflect is real value. The president has blamed speculators and the IMF for the currency shortage, which is likely to become a crisis as foreign aid donors, including the U.K., are withholding $400 million until economic and democratic reforms are implemented.

In his address, Bishop Tengatenga called upon Malawians to be patient, but also warned that this patience should be predicated on the government accepting its responsibilities to repair the “malfunctioning system” of governance.

“As we enter another New Year on our long journey of waiting for the coming of our Lord, I urge you to be your best and wait with a purpose,” the bishop said, but “any person should be waiting with a purpose and that nobody should cheat another that things in our country are okay when the opposite is true.”

“Leaders ascend to power because of our votes. If they cannot serve us today, if they cannot solve the problems we are facing today, if they cannot take the responsibility bestowed on them by us now, when and where will they do it?” he asked.

“And if we do not take them to task now when we are suffering, when and where shall we take them to task to address the issues,” the bishop said.

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