AFRICA/MALAWI - Rich 20% of population silent to plight of 80% poor

Lilongwe (Agenzia Fides)- The Catholic Bishops of Malawi have expressed gratitude for the solution to a serious two week tug of war between the government and civil servants demanding a 67% pay rise. Protests caused serious social disruption . The authorities have agreed on a 61% per cent increase to the lowest salaries and 5% to the highest ones. In a statement sent to Fides by the Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, the Catholic Church in Malawi, tracing the roots of the trade union crisis, takes a position regarding the economic crisis which has afflicted the country for some time. The statement says the decision to devaluate Malawi Kwacha and continued floatation and the linkage of the fuel prices to the global market prices leading to automatic fuel price adjustments is worsening the economic situation of the people. The Commission also criticises certain economic moves of the government such as the decision to privilege some investments over others. These economic measures, say “Justice and Peace” have created a serious social fracture. “Malawi is seriously entrenching a two-tier society with over 80% of the population struggling to survive and depending on poor, over-stretched and quality-compromised public service delivery; while the 20% are affording privatized education, health and security services.” the statement affirms “This 20% of the population that is able is creating a section of passive and irresponsive citizenry that has become silent to the plight and cries of the majority poor”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 25/2/2)013