Chasefu PF member of parliament Gerald Zimba says members of parliament are so divided by party lines that they do not interact even at the National Assembly Motel.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Reverend Godfridah Sumaili says her ministry will spend K292,680 on organizing indabas for the state, the church and other religious groupings.

Debating to the Religious Affairs Ministry’s budgetary allocation yesterday, Zimba asked Rev Sumaili to prove to Zambians that the ministry was non partisan by uniting Zambians.

“First of all I support the budget for this ministry. Madam Minister, you have a very huge challenge to prove to this Parliament and people at large that this ministry is not partisan, that this ministry is not political. It all lies in your hands and I know you are capable because God chose you to be there,” Zimba said.

“You can see from the debates that this country is divided. I want the Ministry of Religious Affairs to unite these groupings. When you go to Parliament motel, you will find a certain group is this side, the other group this side. We are divided. We don’t interact. We profess that we are a Christian Nation, we love this country, we love these people, we want them to unite but what we show them here is something totally different.”

Zimba challenged Rev Sumaili to unite the PF and the UPND saying the animosity was affecting development.

“We have brains from both the opposition and the ruling party. If we did put our brains together, this country would move forward. But mostly, if this side of the House tries to give advice to this side of the House, there is a lot of sarcasm involved. I hear very excellent ideas coming from the left (opposition). Very excellent suggestions about how we came move this country forward but the way ideas are put [to] this side (government), so much sarcasm. At the end of the day the country misses an opportunity to move forward,” said Zimba.

“I would really love to see the ministry come in strongly and bring the parties together. Why is there such animosity? Why is there so much hatred that is being exhibited? Each one of us should ask ourselves what we are doing to improve the warfare of this country? It is only us who can make a difference. I would want to interact with everybody. I want to see no divisions in groupings when we are at Parliament Motel. Nobody should tell that this is PF, this is UPND, we are supposed to be one. This is Parliament. What we do in here reflects what happens outside.”

But Livingstone UPND member of parliament Matthews Jere said the ruling party must repent and confess their wrongs before they talk about reconciliation.

“Those who are in public office, Madam Chair, should be honest, should not be selfish. We always preach that ‘Zambia is a Christian Nation’, in addition we have the ministry of religion. But the people are unrighteous. Day and night, they talk about reconciliation. How do you reconcile when other the party is carrying a gun and a Bible? Would you go closer to such a person? These are the people that want to abuse the Bible by saying let us reconcile. First of all, let them repent, let them confess of the many many things that they have committed from the time they cheated the Zambian people in 2011 to date. They got power on pretense and indeed it will haunt them forever,” said Jere.

Meanwhile, Rev Sumaili also said that the ministry intended to hold an indaba for the state, the church and other religious groups.

“The ministry intends to facilitate holding of an indaba for the state, church and other religious groups. These activities have been allocated K292,680 in 2018 as compared to K200,000 in 2017. The ministry will also work with the National Heritage Conservation and Commission under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts to identify and preserve Christian knowledge and religious sites with the objective of highlighting the country’s Christian heritage. The ministry has been allocated K210,000 for this activity in 2018 as compared to K100,000 in 2017,” she said.

Rev Sumaili also said the ministry would spend K556,000 in collaboration with the House of Chiefs to conduct a baseline survey on national values.

“Chairperson, to ensure that evidence for programming and tracking progress is provided, my ministry will undertake a baseline survey on national values in collaboration with the House of Chiefs to embark on traditional values and beliefs that are pro development so that they can they can be promoted to national development. The ministry has been allocated K556,000 for these activities. The ministry has also provided K196,550 to the monitoring and evaluation activities. These will enhance policy program and accountability,” said Rev Sumaili.