Opposition members of parliament on Tuesday afternoon took turns castigating Religious Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili for failure to guide government on various national issues.

Debating the 2019 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Keembe UPND member of parliament Princess Kasune wondered what kind of impact the ministry had on nation when leaders were still not ready to solve challenges affecting citizens.

“I think it should pain us to realise that we are fortunate to be in these seats and act as voices for the people. Just like the Ministry of Religious Affairs is a voice beyond even us here, but I hope that you become a voice to the President of this nation because there lies the peace or the lack of peace in this country. Religion should not be used as an opium of the poor. It is true that in many cases, religion has been misused and people have gone on a very bad path. The divisions that we are beginning to see is a political construct that has been created in this country to discriminate others against the very basic resources that they need. But why should that be the case? Where will the ordinary Zambians go if their own country cannot give them the very basic of every human’s cry? They cannot get their jobs because they are from a certain religion or tribe, when did we become like that? I think enough is enough ladies and gentlemen, we are becoming a disgrace,” said Kasune.

And Chirundu UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima said it was immoral for the PF government to continue boasting about the Ministry of National Guidance when people were still killing each other.

“When this Ministry was formed, I opposed it and I gave reasons why. This Ministry was supposed to be a moral police, they were supposed to be guiding across the board. The police should fall under this ministry in a normal country, all ministries are supposed to be falling under this ministry. Her job as a minister was supposed to evangelise to all the ministers and ministries. But I don’t think that this ministry has lived to it’s mandate. We cannot afford to continue allocate money to this ministry when things are deteriorating in our country. You (PF) are talking about morality, but there are no morals to write home about,” said Sykalima.

“In terms of values, there is nothing to write home about. In a country where immediately the PF came into power, every time there is an election, people have to hack one another. I have grown in this country and previously, even wilding a Panga (machete) was abominable. But today, people can freely hack one another. And then you go and boast out there that you have got a ministry which preaches morality, that is immoral! And those are the things that God hates, we have talked about his name in vein! Your job minister is to reverse these things, you must talk first of all to your won people in Cabinet, let people live ethics. May the God who is omnipotent guide you as a minister.”

But defending the Ministry’s role, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu, who is also Malambo PF member of parliament said the opposition had contributed to the divisions that were going in the country.

“The divisions that we have witnessed in this country have not been from homes or Churches or anywhere in society but in the political arena. It is for this reason that the minister did take time to visit different political parties and discuss with them the need for national unity and dialogue. In meeting political parties, she created a platform in which certain grievances could be talked about. But that platform has not been taken advantage of and it is for that reason that we tend to have a bankruptcy of honest in the political arena. From the time 18th October was declared as the day of national prayers, there has been little or no participation at all from those that are on the left. Why has that been so? I think it is the failure to practice patriotism and national unity. We created the day of reconciliation as the day we were going to settle our differences but many have shunned this day,” said Zulu.

And in winding up debate, Rev Sumaili said her ministry had been engaging government leaders on various matters behind closed doors.

“I can tell you that you will be embarrassed when you get to know where the national dialogue process is and the role that our ministry had played quietly. We don’t have to play to the gallery, the kind of work that we are doing is not to be displayed in the public, we are talking to ZCID, we are talking to the Church and I can tell you that where we are right now, we are at a very comfortable position and very soon you will hear where the national dialogue process is. Our job is not about politicking. We have national interests at heart, there are issues that we have spoken about. We have spoken about the issues of exam leakages and we advised… so I can assure that this ministry is intricately involved in ensuring that we guide the institutions, political leaders and the people in general properly,” said Sumaili.