Conference of Catholic Bishops in Zambia (ZCCBZ) Communications Director Fr Winfield Kunda says it is “fake news” that the Catholic church is organising prayers for Hakainde Hichilema’s healing and release from prison.

In a statement, Fr Kunda said the Catholic Church was praying for the nation through mass every Sunday and allowing God’s will to be done.

“I want to state clearly that ZCCB has not organised any form of national prayers for the arrested UPND President Hakainde Hichilema to have him released or whatever. We are not aware of such prayer arrangements either at the Conference level or even within the Archdiocese of Lusaka. This story must have been manufactured by agents of ‘fake news’,” said Fr Kunda.

“If in any case there are prayers organised for such be informed officially that there are not being organized by Catholic Church in Zambia. The Church continues to pray for those who request her for prayers and we always do this during mass every Sunday and our prayer intentions are that the will of God be done and not according to our will.”

But Kangwa Chileshe, General Overseer of a church called City of Refuge Ministries has issued a statement inviting all churches and political parties to attend prayers for national unity and peace on Monday.

“I would like to take this opportunity to cordially invite you to a prayer meeting to be held on Monday 16 May 2017 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at 14:00 hours. The purpose of the prayer meeting is to foster unity and peace in our nation. In attendance will be leaders from government and all political parties in Zambia, the clergy from all denominations, Civil Society, members of the press and the general public,” stated Chileshe.

In accepting the prayer invitation, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said the party was humbled.

“The UPND welcomes the initiative by the Church to call for prayers to intercede for peace in our country and further wish to state that it couldn’t have come at a better period than during these turbulent times for our Nation. Our Country is deeply divided and pulling in multiple directions and is at the brink of catastrophe. Unless we as a people come together and pray for the intervention of the Almighty God, posterity may judge us harshly,” Kakoma said in s statement.

“That the Church has risen above partisan politics in calling for these intercessions is a matter that is comforting to the UPND and our hope and prayer therefore is that all opposition parties, NGO’s, the Civil Societies and all people of good will, will answer this clarion call for prayer by the Church.

Kakoma expressed gratitude to the PF for showing interest in the prayers.

“We are elated and encouraged by the PF through its senior member Fr Frank Bwalya who has welcomed the initiative by the Church and has consequently urged all his party members to peacefully observe and participate in seeking for divine intervention from God to save our Country from further divisions,” said Kakoma.