Former Archbishop of Lusaka Telesphore Mpundu says if Jesus came back today, he would give himself up for crucifixion again because of the theft that is going on in government and the betrayal of the way of Christ by Church leaders.

And Bishop Mpundu has warned that if the breakdown in the rule of law is not addressed, the 2021 general elections will record unprecedented chaos.

Meanwhile, Bishop Mpundu says if politicians are the ones who are showing everyone that it is alright to steal, the Church should not be expected to stay away from expressing displeasure because “politics is too important to leave to politicians alone”.

Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Frank on Hot programme, Tuesday, Bishop Mpundu said that if Jesus came to Zambia today, he would confront the current religious leaders and rebuke politicians for the unfair distribution of the country’s resources.

He also observed that some leaders in the country, who previously experienced what having nothing felt like, had accumulated wealth in the shortest possible time.

“If Jesus came back today, he would have the same problems that he had in his own country. Being God, he could even give himself another quality of dying again. He would be crucified again because what he was saying is very relevant today. He was just whipping across the board, he had no sacred cows, no! He went to the priests in the Temple where they were swindling people, overcharging and exploiting them, and what did he do? He took a rope and he said ‘get out of this place, you are turning my Father’s house into a house of thieves! My brothers and sisters out there, isn’t that happening among church leaders on Sundays? The amount of money they collect, all kinds of collections and accountability is not there. So, us Church leaders will also be part of the cleaning operation. Politicians, he would go after them and say ‘you have my people right here and you are not feeding them, they are poor and it’s not because you don’t have enough wealth, it’s because it’s not fairly distributed.’ That’s what Jesus would say and he would be very scourging,” Bishop Mpundu said.

He lamented the current crop of “vision-less leaders” who had no heart for Zambians and the poverty situation majority citizens were grappling with.

“This country is very rich, but governance is lacking in the sense of visionary leaders. Leaders who are committed, leaders who are there to serve, not to be served. All leadership comes from God and leadership in whatever form is intended to serve the people wherever they are. Whether it’s in religion, leaders are there at the service of people. When we stop being at the service of people, whether we are in Church institutions or government, what do we become? We become cannibals, we become parasites and we start now enriching ourselves. So, that’s what happens. We become cannibals when we stop serving people, and in this country, some of the people are extremely rich in such a short while, how? And yet there are other people who are so poor. This time, we are even poorer than we were at Independence time,” Bishop Mpundu argued.

“Most leaders have a slave mentality! They experience how being and having nothing is. But when they have a chance of seeing something, they want to get as much as possible in the shortest possible time! That’s why it is a shame that in a country that is so rich, so many people are poor. Those in leadership must aspire all the time to serve people, find ways and means of solving all this poverty. We have the resources, we have what it takes to provide for our people. So, in the leadership, when we go out there to mobilise, mobilise people in the way of development so that people can have services that are efficient and adequate.”

And responding to callers who accused him of siding with the opposition in the preparatory works for the national dialogue process, Bishop Mpundu said politics were too important to leave to politicians alone.

“Where we are going, the next elections will be preceded by violence and during elections there will be violence and after elections, there will be chaos in this country! When I was invited by the UPND to speak to them as a guest speaker on political violence, and I think this cuts across all political parties; when I started talking I said ‘people will insult me. They will dub me as UPND,’ but I have never been in any political party and I go back many years in looking at political issues in our country, I am not partisan at all. If you talking about church leaders not being interested in politics, that’s not their mission. Politics are just too important to leave to politicians on their own. The Church has to come in and give them guidance but they don’t want guidance. You are saying ‘this man [Moundu] is very interested in politics’, have you read the Gospel on how Jesus came in and how He was there always on the part of the poor and bringing sanity to people? Politics is part of people’s lives. The joy and happiness of the people of this age is also the suffering and the joy of the Church,” Bishop Mpundu explained.

“Those who say: ‘the Church should remain the sacristy and pray so that people have good morals’, no! Our lives begins in the sacristy, in the Church we pray but we go out and influence things there where people are and that is that. When things are very bad, people say: ‘ah, what is the Church doing?’ When the Church does something you say: ‘oh the Church is there, why don’t you stay in the sacristy? You have too much interest in politics.’ But it is all connected with politicians. Political leadership is needed even in the cases of morality. If politicians are the ones who are showing everyone that it is alright to steal, then, of course, we are very much concerned. That’s what we do every Sunday, every time you go to Church, you will hear issues of morality all the time. But people are people, you can’t force morality down the throats of people.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Mpundu regretted that the Church had not done enough to contribute to good governance and help in the alleviation of poverty in Zambia.

“Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men and women who united in Christ and guided by the Holy spirit prays towards the Kingdom of the Father and are bearers of the message of salvation intended for all men and women. That is why Christians maintain a feeling of deep solidarity with human race and its history. You can’t say it more than that, this is our mission. Where our people are, that’s where we are. If they are rejoicing, we rejoice with them. If they are suffering from hunger, we suffer with them. If they are being oppressed then we suffer with them. This mission is as ever green as ever. So, this is our mission and from that point of view, that’s where we have to examine ourselves,” said Bishop Mpundu.