Press reports from the Central African nation of Malawi state the Bishop of Upper Shire has been offered a million dollar payout to leave office. Malawi24 reported on 15 August 2022 the Rt Rev. Brighton Malasa had been offered one billion Malawian Kwacha (approximately $1 million) to take early retirement at the age of 46.
In 2020 an independent auditing firm engaged by the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of Central Africa investigated the finances of the Diocese of Upper Shire and its bishop. The audit came in response to a campaign led by lay leaders to oust the bishop, accusing him of misconduct and abuse of office. On 14 December 2018 the Nyasa Times reported that representatives from 37 of the 41 parishes met at St George’s in Zomba and endorsed a call for him to go.
Local newspapers reported the charges leveled against the bishop 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 overseen by the Primate of Central Africa had proven unfruitful and with the auditors report in hand in January the House of Bishops gave Bishop Malasa until June 2022 to step down.
Bishop Malasa responded he would not go unless he were given a severance package, as required under canon law, that would pay him a salary, housing and car allowance until he reached the age of sixty-five. The diocese could not afford the bishop’s terms for the buy-out, leaving Bishop Malasa in office.
This week’s announcement, however, ends the impasse allowing the election of a new bishop. However, the terms of the settlement are controversial in light of the diocese’s dire financial condition and it is not known where the money will come from to fund the payout.
Update: The Church of the Province of Central Africa has not agreed to fund the buy out of Bishop Malasa, a senior figure in the province tells Anglican.Ink. The source, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the province, said the Malawi24 story misstated the state of affairs. The bishop has not been offered $1 million to step down, but is hoping to be offered $1 million to step down.