High Court Buildings, Lilongwe (Photo Daily Mail)
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION reports that an inter-party court hearing to have been held in the High Court of Malawi, Lilongwe on Monday 9th November seems to have run into trouble. An unprecedented 150 laity of the Diocese of Lake Malawi had petitioned for an injunction against the confirmation of the Archdeacon of Lilongwe, the Venerable Francis Kaulanda as the next Bishop of Lake Malawi. The Diocese is currently divided in opinion whether to accept Kaulanda who has been accused of financial mismanagement.
At the same time the Central African Bishops have planned to conduct a ‘Court of Confirmation’ to confirm Kaulanda and the newly elected Bishop of Northern Malawi Fr Leslie Mtekateka on Saturday 14th November. This they are keen, almost desperate it seems, to complete. A successful court case brought against the Bishops would stop the Court of Confirmation although a recent release from the Bishops makes the implausible claim that they are not subject to civil court jurisdiction.
It now appears that on arriving at the Central Court for the ‘inter-party hearing’ on Monday representatives of the laity were told that the file relating to their case ‘has gone missing’. In Malawi two conclusions only can be drawn in such circumstances either the file has genuinely been lost or bribery or lobbying of court officials has taken place. The latter is the opinion of those representing the laity.
We publish below a communication received from the chief petitioner on behalf of the laity, Charles Wemba:
‘The 9th Nov 2009 was the date that the High Court in Lilongwe scheduled an ‘inter-party hearing’ between the Court of Confirmation officials (the bishops) and the Objectors. On that day, we, the Objectors, reported at the Court at 8am, as the hearing was to commence at 8.30am. After waiting for two hours, the Court Clerk told us that the hearing had been adjourned until further notice because “the case file has gone missing”. When we asked the whereabouts of the other party; the Court Clerk told us that he had phoned them, through their Lawyer, not to come.
Before we dispersed for our respective homes, we thought of collecting a document that would act as an evidence of our presence at the High Court and a reason why we were sent back unheard. Unexpectedly, the Court Clerk was in Court for another case. We were then informed by other officials of the High Court that it was outside the High Court’s procedures for a Court Clerk on his/her own to send back parties, and remain silent without informing his/her superiors. They were alarmed to hear that the other party (the bishops) has been informed by phone.
By 3pm, we approached the Court Registrar, who was still not aware of the development. He called the Court Clerk for questioning. This time the Court Clerk changed his statement. He claimed to have told the other party in person and not on phone. Now we wonder if this was the case how we the Objectors did not come across the other party between 8am to 3pm?
We consider that this is evident enough that the Anglican Church is controlling the Courts through bribery or some other way. Have the bishops or the diocese connived with the Court Clerk? By the look of things it was agreed that they (Diocese side) should never come to Court and then let us the Objectors be sent away unnoticed. In the end the Judge would then have removed the Injunction on the basis of the Objectors not coming to Court to be heard, hence Francis Kuyacha (his original name)/Kaulanda would be confirmed unopposed as per Bishops Chama/Mchombo/Tengatenga’s wishes.
I understand some people went to Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to seek advice on the Court Clerks Issue.’
On behalf of the petitioners:
ANGLICAN-INFORMATION states that something is clearly very wrong concerning this case and requests that an explanation should be forthcoming from the Central African Bishops about what looks like interference of a serious nature in a Civil Court.
Diocese of Upper Shire, Malawi – time flies
On a lighter note the debate rages as to the correct age of the world’s youngest bishop Brighton Malasa? Priests and people of the diocese claim he was 30 years of age when elected and is now 31. He has himself claimed in Malawi to be 34 years of age and during a recent visit to the parish of St Alban, North Harrow, London U.K., stated that he is 39 years of age. Any advance on this?