Kitwe City Council Town Clerk Bornwell Luanga has warned that all employees who will not attend tomorrow’s National Prayers will be dealt with accordingly.

But Minister of Religious Affairs and National Guidance Reverend Godfridah Sumaili says attending national prayers should not be a forcing matter.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Local Government has asked bar owners to open at 18:00 hours instead of 10:00 hours.

In a memo dated October 11, 2017, Luanga told employees that they were expected to attend the prayer session without fail.

“The Republican President His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu will attend this important national event here in Kitwe. Therefore, all employees are required to be in attendance without fail. Take note that a roll call will be conducted at the stadium to check who will be in attendance and those found wanting will be dealt with accordingly,” read Luanga’s memo which is circulating on social media.

Kitwe City Council public relations manager Undi Phiri confirmed that the memo was authentic but expressed shock at how it got to the public.

“It was an internal memo, but I am shocked that it is in public domain. It is actually true and the TC is on point in that letter. He is just reminding the workers that this is a national day and we need to follow what government is doing. Government has declared tomorrow as holiday and we need to follow that. Besides we are the host city and the President is coming so we need to follow this policy. So we can’t allow our workers to shun and do other things. So we are appealing to our workers to follow this directive,” Phiri said.

She said if the memo has injured some people, the council would withdraw it.

“If it has injured anyone, we will withdraw it and make a new directive. But we have a mandate to support the government especially that we are the host city,” said Phiri.

But speaking at a PF interactive forum at Aabiya lodge in Ndola today, Sumaili said attending prayers was not a forcing matter.

“It is not a forcing matter but we could love to see all Zambians to pray and fast. We want the kingdom of God to grow. This is the time that we should repent and reconcile with each other,” she said.

She said the government was not abusing its powers by allowing people to pray and fast.

“Now that it is a holiday, we could love to see people coming in numbers to Nkana stadium and in other centers across the country. This should be a day to unite and work for Zambia with love,” said Rev Sumaili.

Meanwhile, local government minister Vincent Mwale issued a statement asking bar owners to only open after 18:00 hours.

“Government would like to appeal to all liquor traders across the country to open their bars at 18:00 hours instead of the 10:00 hours prescribed in the Liquor Licensing Act No. 20 of 2011. This intervention is intended to enable the general public commemorate this important day of prayer and fasting in a solemn and sober manner,” stated Mwale.

“Similarly, the government wishes to appeal to the general public to celebrate this day by concentrating on prayers and fasting as opposed to patronising bars during the prayer and fasting time which starts in the morning and ends at 10:00 hours.