Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emanuel Chikoya has wondered why government officials take an issue whenever opponents make some donations in communities when they do the exact same thing.

In an interview, Fr Chikoya said all political parties deserved to have the same kind of space to operate and engage with the voters.

“I think a lot is within our grasp and particularly [to] those that have the instruments of power, do not abuse state machinery in sorting out political opponents because I don’t understand what offence is there in visiting and donating (goods), for example. Just like we have seen branded books being donated and things like that being donated all over the place,” Fr Chikoya said.

“So, why should one be good for the other, and the other is not permitted to do the same? So, basically, as a church, we say: ‘wake up! Stop selfish activities and very dangerous activities!’ All political parties should have their space. You need to talk; the only way to resolve issues is to talk; there is no option better than that.”

He stressed the need for tolerance among politicians.

“As the church, we have always called for comprehensive dialogue and we still believe this is necessary and when a house is on fire, there is little dialogue that can take place, you begin to react. And quoting from the Bible, one would say: ‘it was raining when Noah built the Ark, he built the Ark before the floods came; when the floods came, it was time to use the Ark.’ So, our leaders have an opportunity to create an Ark of peace, an Ark of tolerance, an Ark of co-existence and avoid all these unnecessary drama and gymnastics,” Fr Chikoya said.

He said those in office should not misuse their power by banning other parties from interacting with voters.

“Those things undermine democracy. I think we have always advised and we will always advise them that, let the playing field be levelled.; I think it is not an offence for anybody to go and engage, market themselves just like they do,” said Fr Chikoya.

“We know the bottom line is that you want to disadvantage, frustrate, and at an end of the day, really, what shall it profit anybody? Let our leaders think beyond themselves; think about Zambia and this precious commodity. We are quoted so much that we are a peaceful country; let us stop doing things that will change this kind of picture of Zambia.”