President Edgar Lungu has dissolved the Bishop Joshua Banda-led National House or Prayer board following misunderstandings.
When contacted for a comment, Thursday, Religious Affairs Minister Rev Godfridah Sumaili confirmed to News Diggers! that the advisory board which was charged with the responsibility of mobilising funds for the ‘synagogue’ construction was no more.
She said a ‘task force’ had instead been appointed to take charge, but refused to name the team members.
“Just wait a little bit because we had put together a task force. So it is better we give you full information. Just wait. I think within a week we should be done. [That task force] is there to manage the construction of the National House of Prayer. The work which the Board was doing, now it’s the task force. We are not calling it a board. So just do me a favour and wait a little bit,” Rev Sumaili told this reporter.
In December 2015, President Lungu appointed Northmead Assemblies of God overseer Bishop, Joshua Banda to lead a team of clergy on the House of Prayer Board. Others who were appointed alongside Bishop Banda were Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia Executive Director Reverend Pukuta Mwanza, Fr Charles Chilinda from the Zambia Episcopal Conference, Father Robert Sihubwa of the Council of Churches in Zambia and BIGOCA Overseer Apostle Peter Ndhlovu.
Others on the board were Reverend Akushanga Muyenge from Praise Christian Centre, Rev Mpundu Mutala and Apostle Elizabeth Chishimba from God of All Dominions, Brigadier General Vincent Mwenya, Chaplain General of the Defence Forces, Naiboth Church Overseer Apostle Bishop Dr Timothy Kazembe, Dr Edwin Zulu from Reformed Church in Zambia and Lubinda Mukelebai of the United Church of Zambia.
Government sources tipped News Diggers that there were some financial misunderstandings that led to the dissolution of the board, though government hopped to keep the issue out of public discourse.
“Yes it’s true the board was dissolved sometime last year I think, so there is a new team from government that is running around for that now. The last activities for the advisory board must have been that fundraising auction. If you remember, the board had come up with a budget involving about K4 million for fundraising soccer games and similar activities, but along the way, some financial misunderstandings came up and the President, indeed directed that the board be dissolved, so those guys are out, there is a new team of technocrats that is there now,” said the source.
Commenting on the development, Bishop John Mambo said politicians were in the habit of taking advantage of unsuspecting members of the clergy, using their names and then kicking them out later after they achieve what they want.
“We did say that this National House of Prayer Board was a non starter. As a man of God, whenever you ride on government, there are 100 per cent chances that you will be abused, and in the end who gets painted? It’s the entire Body of Christ because the government machinery try to cover its tracks and blame you that you had a long hand and you were taking money. We knew this was going to happen to our friends. Normally when you want to do things in a democracy or in a Christian nation, you should be above board, but this doesn’t happen in Zambia. Instead the politicians are messing up the Body of Christ, they are denting the image of the Church,” Bishop Mambo said.
“As you can see, that board was announced in broad daylight by the Secretary to the Cabinet. He called a meeting and named the people who were going to run the affairs of the House of Prayer. But look at what has happened now, whatever has transpired between them, they are not declaring their disputes publicly. They have silently kicked them out. We are only hearing through third parties that it has been dissolved, meaning that the whole project had no sanity in it from the beginning.”
He said the clergy in the country had been blindfolded by power and positions.
“The problem is we never learn as a country. We have been blindfolded by power and positions. We never humble ourselves before God. But foolishly we have decided not to take the position to be the servants of Jesus Christ and because of that, politicians are taking advantage of us, they are kicking us like a soccer ball and it shouldn’t be the case. If at all we were people who are accountable and above board on corruption matters, we would have that body for the House of Prayer without position… I am worried about where we are heading. These are the same people who will come back to the clergy before 2021, they will start kneeling for support and endorsement, and since we don’t learn, they will fool us again.