UPND Deputy Secretary General Patrick Mucheleka has warned that President Edgar Lungu will not win his fight against the church because more popular leaders in the past also failed to do so.

In an interview, Mucheleka condemned President Lungu for shunning the church-led dialogue process.

“Whether Lungu attends or not, we’ll get the results we want from the dialogue process and you must understand that before him there were other presidents who were far more popular and powerful than he is. President [Kenneth] Kaunda tried to fight the Catholic Church in 1991 where did he end up? Is it the Church who lost or it was Kaunda who lost? Didn’t [Frederick] Chiluba try it when he attempted to fight the Church when they spoke against his third term bid? Where is Chiluba today now? So what is special about Lungu?” Mucheleka asked.

“He is the weakest of all presidents we have had and feel sorry for him and the PF. If he thinks he will win by staying away, he is making a big mistake and he will leave to regret because the plane has taken off, it’s either he gets on board or he stays away.”

He said even though President Lungu shunned the dialogue process, he would have to abide by the outcome.

“This country does not belong to Lungu, Lungu is just an individual. This country belongs to all Zambians. And even if he stays away, the church has already started the process and whether Lungu likes it or not it will go on, it is not for him to determine, he will just have to abide by the outcome of the dialogue. And he is just one person, he is not bigger than Zambia. It doesn’t matter whether Lungu is here or not, the people will triumph. He can’t succeed with his PF surrogates and a few misguided elements from intercity. So if he thinks that by staying away from the launch, the he has won together with the PF, no! The people of Zambia will triumph. He just has to abide and he is not a person who has respect for anyone, he will eventually have to be named and shamed because he is the one who has stayed away,” Mucheleka said.

And Mucheleka described the launch of the dialogue process as successful.

“The launch of the dialogue process is already a success. There are representatives from different political parties, the church, diplomats accredited to Zambia from the European Union and African countries, the traditional leaders, everyone is here. The problem president Lungu has is that he thinks he can control literally everything and everyone in the country, including religion, he is overstepping because he thinks he can cause the churches leaders to go and bow before him on the 18th of October,the day himself declared, whatever he calls it. He thinks that everything should only succeed if he is the one calling the shots. This is where all Christians in this country should open their eyes and start questioning ‘who should control issues to do with religion, is it President Lungu or religious leaders? Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. President Lungu’s downfall is coming, it is inevitable! This is the time that all those people whom he has been hoodwinking and cheating to see if he is a Christian, if he can snub and cause his surrogates to be insulting the leaders of three Church mother bodies. How then can you say that Lungu has respect for the Church?” Mucheleka asked.

He observed that chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya was making people insult the church mother bodies.

“Dora Siliya is the one who facilitated the downfall of President Rupiah Banda and today she is the one who has started misbehaving, causing the insulting of the Church mother bodies. We were told that president Lungu was receiving treatment in South Africa, the next thing we saw he was flying to Ethiopia to respond to issues in Congo, leaving his own issues at home where the Church mother bodies invited everyone but the PF are finding different excuses to stay away from the dialogue. They even threatened to send thugs from intercity to come and disrupt the dialogue process if Kambwili attended but he stayed away. They used their surrogates in the ZCID to insult the church mother bodies and disregard the dialogue process, even those 31 political parties they are talking about that they have boycotted the dialogue process, no one knows them, because all the sensible political parties are here, except those that are perhaps on the PF payroll,” said Mucheleka.