St Joseph Catholic Parish Priest Fr. Gabriel Mwanamwalye says African leaders must know when to leave office because their prolonged stay in power can cause suffering to their people.

Delivering his homily during Sunday’s mass, Fr Mwanamwalye observed that some African presidents had made the presidency their comfort zone.

He said it was always important for leaders to know when to leave.

“Look at also presidents, especially our presidents in Africa. It is not easy for them to go. Just our neighbour here – Zimbabwe, the man is above 90 but still clinging to power. But look at it, clinging to power has cost Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was a very beautiful country and economically viable but because of clinging to power Zambabwe is now a laughing stock,” Fr Mwanamwalye said.

“What we are saying is if you don’t let go, you may think you’re comfortable but you’re causing a problem. Isn’t it? Let us look at Rwanda. Rwanda has a President known as Paul Kagame. He is also clinging to power. But also, there is his brother in the neighbouring country, Pierre Nkurunzinza in Burundi also clinging to power but causing problems to the people.”

He described what happened in the Gambia when former president Yahya Jammeh; who had initially accepted defeat but later refused to step down, as a shameful.

“We had an experience in Africa a few months ago – a shameful experience in the Gambia where a president lost the elections and he picks a phone. He phones his brother who has won the election saying, I’m happy you have won and am ready to go back home. After few days he says, those elections were rigged and I will remain in power,” Fr Mwanamwalye said.

“When you cling to certain things, you might think they’re doing you good but my dear brother, my dear sister, they’re only causing you problems.”

Fr Mwanamwalye said leaders must emulate Jesus who refused to accept Peter’s request during the transformation that “they make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” in the Gospel of Matthew 17: 1 -9.

He said Jesus was wise and rebuked Peter because “man must suffer before he can inherit the kingdom of God”.

“In referring to Peter, Jesus said, you cannot stay here forever. You cannot inherit the kingdom of God if you are comfortable in your comfort zone. You must let go of your comfort zone and he is telling Peter, we cannot remain here forever. Yes, you are comfortable here. There is no pain here but in order for you to inherit the kingdom of God you must suffer for it,” Fr. Mwanamwalye explained.

“Some people think inheriting the kingdom of God is easy. We must pay for it,” he said. “But listen to the word of God. When we listen to the word of God, we must put it into practice.”

In Zambia, President Edgar Lungu has expressed his desire to contest the 2021 elections.

Lungu served the remainder of late President Michael Sata’s term of office after winning the 2015 presidential by-election and the voters gave him a second mandate in the 2016 elections.

His eligibility to stand in 2021 is yet to be decided by the Constitutional Court.