Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) secretary general Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says it is demeaning, disrespecting and an insult, for anyone to accuse the church of spearheading for national dialogue in order to receive envelops.

Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Frank on Hot programme Tuesday, Fr Chikoya said the church does not rely on 100 per cent donor funding, like other institutions which when donor funding is taken away from them, they get incapacitated.

He said the church was only fighting to secure peace for the nation where every system of governance should function fairly and without discrimination.

“We don’t want to be a rubber stamp, we don’t want to be programmed according to somebody’s agenda. That is where some of the discomforts begin to emerge and the misunderstandings begin to emerge. If you have noticed the narrative in the media and all those, you see hired agencies and individuals and they will say this, they will despise the church, they will insult and attack the church. For example there is an accusation that we are in it for money, we have been meeting since August and I could only see my daughter only once because we have been doing meetings late in the nights and with fuel that is allocated to me under CCZ,” Fr Chikoya lamented.

Fr Chikoya who represented the three church mother bodies said the church made its own money and would not be paralysed if donor funding was withdrawn from its activities.

“When we host a meeting, we will provide the refreshments and ZCCB does the same and EFZ does the same and now you hear somebody accusing us of that. That is an insult and that is demeaning the church and disrespecting the church. Again you are dealing with churches that are not like some of these entities such that if you remove their donors, they are dead and buried. For us like in the case of CCZ, talk of church House in town, we have properties around town in prime locations and they are being rented out. About 50 per cent of our funding is locally funded and so we are not a 100 per cent dependent organisation. And then we have infrastructure [like] David Livingstone College of Education, talk of Malcom Moffat. How do you accuse those bishops of being in it for envelops? A K1,000? What is that?” Fr Chikoya exclaimed in apparent reference to the bickering between the church mother bodies and the Zambia Centre for Inter party Dialogue (ZCID), which has since pulled out of the talks.

“What we want to see is a movement to positive peace where every system is functioning fairly and without discrimination. Negative peace means for example the law is not fairly applied like the Public Order Act for example. If there is need to protest, for others it is made so difficult and then other people can just spontaneously just walk on the street and no one is arrested. And so yes you may have peace and when you depend on the police and security wings to maintain peace, just know that is a fragile peace. You need to be able to live in an environment where people actually appreciate and protect the peace that is ideal,”

Meanwhile Fr Chikoya said the agenda for the national dialogue would mainly be on issues bordering on political, cultural, social, religious and economic issues.

“I think the issues that are a challenge from our perspective bolder on four issues; you have the governance and political issues. And these are going to be a priority because any issue that may have an implication in terms of needing to have some laws enacted or revised, you would need to be given priority. And then you have economic and social issues, you have cultural issues and religious issues. Those are the key issues, and phase one focuses on governance and political issues,” said Fr Chikoya.

“And in terms of what you would say ‘what is our vision [or] what is our desire?’ we desire a conversion of hearts and minds leading to a united, reconciled, and peaceful Zambia where all citizens freely participate in governance within a thriving social and economic environment. That is our desire. People have accused us of all kinds of agendas[but] if you want our agenda, this is our agenda and for this agenda we shall stand, we shall fight until we attain it.”