The major opposition political parties today shunned the National day of Prayer, Fasting, and Reconciliation saying the prayers were not genuine.

National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo told News Diggers in an interview that he feared God but could not be part of a team that sought to mock him.

“We are definitely not going. If you read the book of James, it makes it very clear, you cannot have both saltwater and spring water coming out of the same mouth. You know, we suddenly don’t expect that prayers can be used to cover up all the ills that are going on in society. God expect us to do our parts first before we turn to him in prayer. And if you look at all the allegations of corruption, all the things that are going on wrong that are hurting and harming the Zambians in this country, if you look at the threats that are uttered by our very own Head of State, claiming that if he was to punch back, people wouldn’t stand, and really to make a mockery about people’s concerns about expenditure on fire trucks which were not worth one million dollars and then to now think that we can turn to God and pray then everything will be okay. I think it’s just not right, we will pray in our own homes, we will pray in our own communities. We will not be part of team that seeks to mock God. You know I fear God but I can’t be part of a process which is really designed to mock him,” said Chipimo.

And speaking when he featured on Sun FM this morning, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said the PF were abusing prayer.

“Prayer is not for a day. October 18, does not necessarily make itself special for prayer. We pray every day as families, individuals and as communities in our party. But we are believers that the PF is actually abusing prayer and the word of God because they are doing a lot of things that are against the people of Zambia. For example, look at the corruption, the smell of corruption while people are suffering. I don’t think this is what people who believe in God, Christians who believe in prayer should be doing. And also there is violence in our country driven by the PF…Before they ask us to go to the alter with them, they must reconcile with the media, stop stealing from the people, brutalizing people and harassing citizens. PF is not clean to call for prayers,” said HH.

Meanwhile, 4th Revolution Party leader Eric Chanda said his party would only attend the national prayers once the spirit of hypocrisy in President Edgar Lungu and his government was removed.

“What we are seeing now is one hand talking about reconciliation while the other hand is hurting the opposition. That is total hypocrisy and let everyone participating in the prayers today call upon Jehovah God that he removes hypocrisy in this government, in comrade Edgar Lungu. We want to see things happen on this planet earth especially in our country Zambia. And not where you say you want to reconcile when your heart is somewhere else. We cannot condone hypocrisy in this country and that is why we are not, as Fourth Revolution [party], participating until this spirit of hypocrisy is removed from comrade Edgar Lungu and his government,” said Chanda.

People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda said the national day of prayer was an event only attended by PF aligned political parties adding that the event itself had been politicized by the ruling party.

“We know that, that event of national day of prayer and many other national events have been politicized by the PF. If you attend those events, you will find that they look like PF organized events. Only PF aligned political parties attend most of the events. When it comes to the national day of prayer, we believe that the body of the house of prayer who are the organizers have not done enough to condemn the wrongs that have happened in the last one year. They were quiet when a lot of things were going wrong. They have not decided to stand for the people,” said Banda.

And Alliance for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi said he was against the state’s mission to infiltrate the church.

“I think I am very alert on who leads me in what to do in life. Human life is a bit segregated and each section has its own leaders so you will find that in traditional or customary life, we have our leaders and those of us who belong to some traditions we follow such and we respect these leaders like our headmen. Then we also have Church leaders because we all belong to different denominations. We also have political leaders who when they invite us to a rally we go, so that political leader has no competence whatsoever to tell anybody to go to a religious meeting or to go for prayers. So the interference of the state in Church matters is further manifestation of their desire to infiltrate, control and take over all institutions in the land,” said Milupi.

Meanwhile, MMD faction leader Nevers Mumba said the National Day of Prayer was more of a curse than a blessing.

“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,” said Mumba.

However, Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba, United Progressive People leader Saviour Chishimba and EPP leader Chilufya Tayali attended the event.

Chishimba told ZNBC TV that shunning prayers was from the “pits of hell”.

“Why should someone shin prayers? That is from the pits of hell. As UPP we will never shun this day, said Chishimba.

But Tayali wondered why the organizers of the event put President Lungu’s portrait on the first page of the programmes and not Jesus.

“The program was distributed like ecstatic drugs, I only managed to get one through a police officer who appreciates what some of you think is lunacy. On the program, the first page has the Portrait of President Lungu, and am asking myself, why? Why not Jesus? Isn’t this what HH was talking about? HH said these prayers are all about President Lungu trying to disguise as a Godly person. The next page has Godfridah Sumaili like a goddess, what message are you sending to the people? What will a child who picks up such a program booklet deduce out of this layout,” Tayali posted on his Facebook page.

“Then the program runs from 08:00 to 15:00hrs with the Vice President coming at 12:00hrs. Well, I appreciate it is prayer and fasting but why is the Veep coming at 12:00hrs? I am told the President is also cutting short the prayers to fly put to Congo Brazzaville, leaving other people praying. This attitude relates to situations when leaders declare austerity measures but the let ordinary citizens suffer while they continue enjoying.”