Former Republican vice-president Nevers Mumba says the National Day of Prayer is more of a curse than a blessing in its current form.

And Mumba has wondered how Zambians can be expected to pray with the PF when President Edgar Lungu was worsening debt levels by being the most travelled Head of State in the SADC region.

At a media briefing yesterday, Mumba, who is also MMD faction president, observed that the system that was being used to implement the day was ungodly.

“The day of national prayer, as it is in its current form stands more like a curse for Zambia than a blessing. And it remains for us to ensure that it does not continue to be a curse but becomes a blessing. The problem is not in the declaration of the day of prayer and fasting, the problem is in its execution. Every time we come towards this day of fasting, political parties in the opposition, civil societies continue to release statements that they are not going to be part of it and they give their own reasons. I think we can cure this. The reason is that the system that they are trying to use to implement this day is worldly, ungodly and can actually be a curse instead of a blessing,” Mumba said.

He said when he attended the first ever National Day of Prayer commemoration, he quickly realized that it was a PF event which was being used to shield their wrong doings.

“The first declaration [national prayers and fasting] on October 18, two years ago, I was in Nigeria and I asked my colleagues to cut the program short so that I can attend the event in Zambia, I landed in Lusaka and went directly to the Agricultural Show Grounds to be part of the prayer meeting. Unfortunately when I got there what I experienced discouraged me immensely. I discovered the reconciliation they were talking about was between President Lungu, President Kaunda and President Rupiah Banda. The few of us from the opposition that were there were hardly mentioned and some of the pastors who were in charge of the prayers are my own spiritual sons who got saved in my ministry but were scared to mention my name because they thought that the President will be offended that I’m being mentioned. We realized that this was a PF endeavor that is being used as a shield to the many things that are being done by this government,” Mumba said.

“And when that happens I’m scared because nobody is going to use God’s name in vain and survive. They may look like they are surviving now but God whose son was killed, kills when people play with his presence and glory. That is why Zambians must take this seriously, the same thing that is supposed to be a blessing can be a curse. My experience from that is that the PF did not want some of us to be recognized that we were present and I think that this is what is making a lot of opposition parties feel that it would be uncomfortable for them to go there.”

Mumba said it would make sense if the day was organized and handled by the three church mother bodies.

“We think that the way government has gone about this prayer meeting is taking away from its original intent. The things of God should be allowed to be done by those that are appointed. As MMD, we are of the view that it is not supposed to be the Patriotic Front which should be in the lead of this event. Once the declaration was made, we expected three mother bodies to be given the authority to oversee the running of this event and prayer meeting. If you are calling it a meeting for reconciliation and forgiveness then we need a neutral body that can allow all Zambians to feel comfortable to go to that meeting. The book of 1 Samuel chapter 13, raises great concern for what is happening in this country. The Patriotic Front should remove itself from this holy day in terms of its management and running of affairs,” he said.

“We expected to get invitation cards from the three mother bodies but we are getting invitation cards from government and Cabinet offices to go to this religious event. This is not independence celebrations, it is a different situation that should be handled by the Christian community and pastors, not just Pentecostals some of whom live on money from state house. It should be a cross section of church leaders in our country that should participate in this process.”

Mumba said more people would feel comfortable to attend the event if it was organized by church mother bodies.

“The solution is to allow an independent body of Christian leaders to superintend over things that belong to the church and not the government. Immediately that is achieved, those of us who are not unable to attend the one happening tomorrow will probably attend next years if this thing is placed in the right hands. I find it hard to advice MMD to attend the event tomorrow because this country is in distress, conflict. This government needs to start using this day to answer the difficult questions Zambians are asking,” he said.

And Mumba observed that President Lungu was now the most travelled Head of State in the SADC region.

“We can’t go to pray when all that government has done is to be arrogant on the questions that Zambians are asking. The President has traveled 48 times and by the way he is the most traveled President in SADC and I think he is doing very well in numbers on the African continent. We are winning wrong competitions as the country of having the most traveled President and the one who spends most money on travel than any other President in the region, even beating President Robert Mugabe. It is that over expenditure that makes debt unsustainable and we must make a decision to lower our expenditure or our debt will continue,” said Mumba.

“These things that happen in this country telling someone he is charged with treason when they know in their heart that he has no treason, they go to his house and defecate and urinate on his bed tear gas his house and then they say let’s go and pray. We are playing with God. The concerns we have about government cannot be resolved in hypocrisy of gathering together in prayer and start to raise our hands before God and think that God is hearing us. We cannot proceed in prayer without resolving these issues.”