Report on alleged episcopal misconduct in Malawi set for June release

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An independent auditing firm engaged by the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa is scheduled to release a report on the finances of the Diocese of Upper Shire and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Brighton Malasa.

On 13 May 2020 lay leaders of the diocese met with the press at St George’s Anglican Church in Zomba to report on the investigation. They stated the international audit firm Graham Carr was reviewing the diocese’s books and was due to report to the House of Bishops in June. The provincial House of Bishops suspended Bishop Malasa in January for six months while the investigation was underway, assigning the Rev. Canon Edward Kawinga as vicar-general under the oversight of the Bishop of Northern Malawi.

In 2018 lay leaders launched a campaign to oust their bishop, accusing him of misconduct and abuse of office. The Nyasa Times reported that representatives from 37 of the 41 parishes in the Malawi diocese met at St George’s in Zomba on 14 December 2018 and endorsed a call to remove Bishop Masala from office.

Local newspapers reported the charges leveled against the bishop — none of which have so far been confirmed by any tribunal or court — were financial, moral and political. The bishop has been accused of adultery and having children out of wedlock with women other than his wife. He has been accused of appointing cronies to senior positions in diocesan schools and hospitals, who then seek fees for preferential treatment in admissions and services.

The lay leaders also accuse the bishop of diverting funds donated from overseas groups into his own pocket, while also involving himself in partisan party politics. Meetings between the protestors and the bishop’s representatives to resolve the dispute had proven unfruitful, leading to intervention by the province.