Financial crisis in the Diocese of Lake Malawi – troubles in the Malawian dioceses and Zimbabwe again – a continuing saga of poor episcopal oversight


The Anglican Diocese of Lake Malawi has a serious financial crisis. This has been expected for sometime. Disillusioned donors have increasingly withheld funding in response to what is perceived as a failure on the part of the Central African Provincial bishops to conduct free and fair elections to the vacant sees of the Dioceses of Upper Shire, Northern and Lake Malawi.

Under the temporary oversight of the Rt Rev’d Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia and acting Dean of the Province what can be best described as a malaise has developed as a gulf has opened up between episcopal oversight and the wishes of the people. These are unsettled times confidence is low and the situation in Zimbabwe does not improve.

A lack of confidence in the bishops equals a shortage of Malawi Kwachas

Priests in the Diocese of Lake Malawi have been informed that they will not be paid this month and that there is great uncertainty about the future. Clergy in Malawi are currently paid approximately 24,000.00 Malawian Kwacha a month, which after taxation and deductions comes to 18,000.00 MWK ($121.00 £80.00 and €88.00). As readers will appreciate this is barely a living wage for priests and their families struggling to scratch a living off their smallholdings. ‘I do not know how we are going to survive’, writes one correspondent.

The problem of what are perceived to be inappropriate ‘elections’ contrived by the bishops to the dioceses have had outcomes as follows:

Upper Shire: Bishop Brighton Malasa who has the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s youngest Anglican Bishop is reported to be favouring young priests and sidelining older and more experienced clergy.

Northern Malawi: The consecration of The Rev’d Leslie Mtekateka elected in August last year has been further delayed due to allegations of serious personal misconduct.

Lake Malawi: The Court Injunction brought by an unprecedented number of objectors to the election of the Venerable Francis Kaulanda has now been lifted. Nevertheless, Kaulanda’s position is perceived to lack legitimacy after what was seen as an election forced by the Provincial Bishops.

St Anne’s Hospital, Nkhota-kota – Diocese of Lake Malawi

A correspondent writes: ‘The services of the principal Hospital Administrator Emmanuel Pemba were terminated by the Board on 8th February 2010 because of mismanagement of funds and abuse of office. Some donors suspended their assistance to the hospital when they realized that the man was not committed to helping the hospital (this is true for example of Hilfe für Malawi, a German Medical Charity). I hope the situation is going to change soon. The hospital at the moment is in deep financial difficulties which have resulted in shortage of drugs and other medical supplies. I do not know whether you know someone or people that can come to the assistance of the hospital. There is a big need to save this hospital’.

South Malawi: Meanwhile Bishop James Tengatenga of South Malawi has embarked on his sabbatical study leave in the United States where in Dallas, Texas he has been speaking to representatives of the conservative (but not quite yet schismatic) Episcopal Diocese of North Texas. Quoting the singer Bob Dylan he said “The hour is getting late” and “Time for our games in running out” – it is not clear what exactly he meant by this but it could be a reflection on the current state of the Anglican Communion or perhaps on the unsettled situation he has left behind in his diocese?

Diocese of Harare, Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwean High Court has ruled against dissident ‘Archbishop’ Nolbert Kunonga and given control of the churches to the Provincial Diocese of Harare under Bishop Chad Gandiya. This ruling has been totally ignored by Kunonga and intimidation and violence against supporters of Chad Gandiya by the state police has continued unabated.

Recently, the former Bishop Sebastian Bakare has renewed his plea for Christian solidarity over the actions of Nolbert Kunonga. To back this Bishop Chad Gandiya has called for a day of prayer and fasting. Acting Dean Albert Chama has also issued a document giving a history of Kunonga’s activities. The document calls for ‘independence and impartiality’ on the part of the police. Unfortunately, the document does not go back to the time of close working friendship between former Archbishop Bernard Malango and Nolbert Kunonga. This period is the unhappy backdrop to the present situation that has never been satisfactorily resolved. Consequently, it represents a toxic legacy that Albert Chama finds hard to shake off, for as Malango’s one time chaplain, the Malango/Kunonga relationship seriously weakens his own credibility.

Cancer not murder: The late Canon Rodney Hunter’s so called ‘murder’ case where Hunter, who died from a cancer related illness in 2005, was claimed by twice-suspended priest Dennis Kayamba to have been poisoned. This case has come to court where no evidence has been produced against Hunter’s loyal former cook Leonard Mondoma.

The judge was to have heard from the two doctors involved but they have twice failed to appear. The judge had intended to summon them once more but this has been delayed indefinitely due to a strike by the judiciary over replacement vehicles for their travel needs. The hapless Leonard Mondoma remains without a job and with the threat of the law hanging over him – it is nothing less than a scandal that such a trumped up case should ever have come about.

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  1. As the song goes 'where do I begin?'.

    It's difficult to find anything encouraging here. Let's see - there are currently only two bishops in Malawi, one absentee and the other practically a teenager.

    In Zimbabwe, Nolbert Kunonga continues to go mad. You couldn't write a script to match it. It is interesting that it is still Bishop Sebastian Bakare who is fighting Kunonga in the front line as it were. At the same time the acting Dean Chama is always reactive rather than proactive - why?

    I think Anglican Inf may be right, and that he is closer to Kunonga than he lets on.

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