National Guidance and Religoius Affairs Minister Godfridah Sumaili says inviting Hindus to the National Day of Prayer and Repentance can cause confusion.

And Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya has insisted that Zambia is not in debt distress and that there are no ongoing discussions about giving away public assets as a way of settling loans.

The duo was speaking at a press briefing held at the Ministry of Informtion and Broadcasting, Wednesday.

Asked why muslims were not included in the national prayers, Sumaili said there would be confusion if other religions were invited to a Christian event.

“The President Announced the national day of prayer fasting and repentance [but] the only thing is that when we meet as Christians in one place and then we say ‘Hindus come’ I think there will be confusion, but they are free to meet on their own on this day, honour this day and pray. So that’s the only reasons. So really it’s an arrangement that we want to warship God in the way that we are accustomed to,” Sumaili said.

Sumaili also said it was sad that some leaders could speak ill about their country abroad.

“It is so sad that even some leaders will speak ill about their nation outside but there is only one Zambia and you are a child of this nation. We have to love our nation and in whatever we are doing we should do the best for our nation. So this ministry is mandated to promote those values. And I can tell you that we have rich culture values which we are losing out. And then we have these values which are in the constitutions, if we can embrace all these values, I am sure that Zambia will stand and that Zambia will be envied by other countries,” Sumaili said.

She advised leaders not to politicize the national day of prayer and fasting which is held on October 18th annually.

“And these national prayers, we should not politicize these prayers. 90 percent of Zambians are Christians and we need to honour our creators. God answers prayers and we have seen it happening I think in 2016 when we had a drought and all the African countries in the southern region were affected by that. As Zambia we let the prayers to pray for the rains and we saw what happened. We had the rains and we had a bumper harvest and we started feeding all these other countries surrounding us. So we cannot trivialize prayer, we cannot politicize prayer because we honour and fear God,” she said.

Asked what her message was on the UPND not participating in national day of prayer, Sumaili said it was unfortunate that a leader who called himself a Christian could do such a thing.

“I feel that it is very unfortunate and that as a responsible leader and you call yourself a Christian, you stop people from praying. It is very unfortunate but even if the leadership has stopped people from going to pray, people from UPND have come to pray as individuals. In fact last year we had a leader in the UPND who was part of the programme and led in one of the programmes,” said Sumaili.

“The national House of prayer which was in place then yes they raised some funding and some funding has gone into what is happening now. I think we are going to be quiet aggressive concerning the National House of Prayer. We need to be aggressive on this issue which is so important to the nations. And I would encourage that every family becomes part of this covenant house of prayer.”

And Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya insisted that Zambia was not in debt distress and that there were no ongoing discussions about giving away public assets as a way of settling loans.

“There continues to be an unsubstantiated debate on debt position and this has extended to a malicious rumour that we are in debt distress as far as Chinese loans are concerned and that government is now going to offer or sale to the Chinese, public assets such as ZNBC, ZESCO and such as the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA). I want to put it on record clearly that there is no debt crisis in Zambia and that in particular we are not in debt distress with the Chinese loans and that absolutely there is no discussion relating to the offer of indeed the give-away for public assets such as the ZNBC, ZESCO and the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport,” Siliya said.

Siliya said those spreading rumours about Zambia being in a debt crisis were just malicious.

“These stories that are circulating nationally, locally and internationally must truly be disregarded and they are just malicious rumours by those who are determined to distract us as a government and as a people. So I want say it once and for all that these are malicious rumours. I believe that when I featured on Sunday Interview last week or the other week, I did indicate that we must give room for the Minister of Finance to do her work. What is important is that Zambia is not in debt distress, is not in debt crisis and I believe that the Minister of Finance very soon when she will be presenting to parliament should be able to give you all the information and I do not want to pre-empty her [speech] including the president who will be giving a statement in parliament this Friday,” Sumaili said.

Siliya said the country had benefited a lot from Chinese loans.

“Zambia has a lot of partners [such as] China, the World Bank, the IMF, bilateral relations with other countries whether it’s the US, the UK and so on. It is quiet strange to me that China is being singled out especially just after His Excellency just went to China to attend the …meeting. When we look at our relationship with China since 1964, we’ve benefited a lot in infrastructure development. We are attracted to this bilateral cooperation with China because these loans that government of Zambia get from China are concessional loans and even when they are commercial loans, they don’t have any extraneous conditions,” said Siliya.