Police raid of churches angers mother bodies

Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu says it is unacceptable for police in riot gear to barge into churches with teargas to disperse congregants instead of communicating with the leadership.

And Archbishop Mpundu observed that some public servants have amassed unexplained wealth in huge proportions despite being in government for a short time.

Meanwhile, Church Mother Bodies say the continued culture of corruption and incidences of violence in Zambia is disappointing.

At a media briefing, Monday, Archbishop Mpundu also said government should have given Lusaka residents ample notice of its decision to ban public gatherings.

“We will continue cooperating with government in order to bring this cholera to a stop. However, the measures that have been taken due to this outbreak are not being given prior publicity, telling people to say this is what has happened. To just announce one day that we don’t want more than 10 people to meet in public is unacceptable,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

“We need prior communication. Surely people complained and it is their right to complain. So next time we want the government to let us know in advance what measures are going to be taken so that people are not pushed around. It is unacceptable that you go to a Church, all armed with tear gases and police in riot gear as if people are going to demonstrate or rebel in Churches, no! Why not talk to the people who are in charge of these congregations because they are peaceful people.”

And Archbishop Mpundu said peace could not be restored in Zambia if government failed to stamp out corruption.

“Peace cannot come to our country if successful administrations do not take drastic steps to stamp out the endemic corruption among public servants which has reached epidemic proportions against the backdrop of the highest poverty index since the dawn of our political independence in 1964. It is unacceptable that some public service personnel have amassed enormous wealth in dubious or highly questionable ways and within a short time in service. It is a scandal that year in year out, the Auditor General’s report reveals hair raising misapplication and misappropriation of huge sums of public funds by public officers but few, or if any culprits, are punished,” said Archbishop Mpundu.

“For how long shall public anger be strained given the high unemployment levels particularly among young adults? Unless most of these young adults whose increases each year can be quickly absorbed by the labour market, we might be sitting on a talent volcano. That is why national dialogue and reconciliation is critical so that politicians and other stakeholders can address the situation and assist the current administration to grow the economy and accommodate job seekers. We believe that there cannot be any meaningful development without peaceful engagements, that’s why we support and wish to contribute and make ourselves available for the restoration of peace in the country through dialogue.”

And representing Council of Churches in Zambia, ZCCB and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, EFZ chairman Bishop Paul Mususu appealed to political players in the country to stop insulting one another and start sharing opinions responsibly without violence or utterances of hatred.

“Despite public pronouncements that Zambia is a peaceful country, the reality on the ground is different due to many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred. We therefore earnestly appeal to all our political leaders to stop insulting each other and start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public. We demand that all political party leaders declare and enforce zero tolerance for political violence and to bring culprits to book by handing them over to law enforcement institutions,” said Bishop Kasusu.

“All political leaders must give the planned for national dialogue a chance to succeed by committing themselves to dialogue without preconditions with a view to level the playing field. These leaders of political parties must restrain themselves and their members from making inflammatory or irresponsible statements. We also call upon media houses to refrain from sensationalism and polarization of people or political institutions. Let them not join the irresponsible people who want to be spoilers of the process and the noble objective of a successful and fruitful national dialogue.”

Meanwhile, CCZ president Bishop Alfred Kalembo observed that true dialogue meant having a change of heart.

“True dialogue means change of heart, attitude and behaviour. It is a project, an ongoing process and effort. It is the only way of life for us Christians which should be heard in our words, seen in our faces and actions because it is in our hearts,” said Bishop Kalembo.

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