The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) says it is not excited about National Guidance Minister Godfridah Sumaili’s announcement that this year’s national day of prayer will be led by the clergy because Zambian politicians have always made empty promises.

And CCZ has appealed to everyone participating in the national day of prayers, fasting and reconciliation on October 18 to pray against tribalism, regionalism, selfishness, greed and rampant corruption.

CCZ general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya told News Diggers in an interview that political announcements did not excite him when asked to comment on Rev Sumaili’s assurance that the day of prayer would be devoid of political undertones.

“I have stopped getting excited by political announcements. I think you are alive to the fact that we were involved in the national dialogue process and so many times we were assured of ABCD by the politicians and then the contrary happened. So there is what is called ‘the doubting Thomas’ which I prefer to call ‘the verifying Thomas’. I will choose to be a verifying Thomas on that day [October 18] and so we will see how things go this time around. I don’t want make any comments or assurances but I have a commitment to pray for this country and I urge all Christians to pray for this country. This can be done right where you are, from January to December. Let’s pray seriously for this country, let’s pray for the accountable government, let’s pray for leadership that understands what needs to be done. Let’s pray for co-existence, let’s pray for the rule of the law to prevail, let’s pray for a united and peaceful and prosperous Zambia. Prayers should happen from January to December, even in the office you can be praying for Zambia, even right now you can be praying for Zambia using the right sense of the words,” Fr Chikoya said.

Fr Chikoya explained why the church mother bodies had opted to take a low profile on the national day of prayer.

“Our growing concern with all these events is that they tend to be tilted towards a particular direction and in the initial stages, we did write a pastoral letter outlining what it means to pray, to repent and to reconcile. Consequently, we noted that we would pray but then a week later, there are insults and all those things and political violence continued to go on unabated. But we need to have inclusive prayers, we need to keep away from political speeches. If you have noted, mostly when we have these prayers, mostly it’s the Army Chaplins that have been like service leaders while if you go back to history, you would notice that the three Church Mother Bodies spearheaded the prayers that used to be held a week before independence day. So because of those concerns, we tended to take a low profile as the church,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fr Chikoya gave guidance on some of the prayer points Zambians needed to consider.

“We should begin to be that type of a country that is developed, where the local people are empowered. We should not just talk about development but the local people should be empowered with the means of production. Of course we need to set a mindset change and attitude change, a culture of laziness must not be there, a culture of always being caught napping by disasters that are man-made and natural and using them as an excuse shouldn’t be there. I mean we need to pray from an informed perspective, so I appeal to the everyone, wherever you are stepping on that soil of Zambia, pray for the good of this country. That is what the Bible tells us, ‘seek the welfare of the place where you are’, that message was even given to the Israelites in exile, what more for those of us who are in our country? We should seek the best for this country. Don’t be worried about distance and whatever, be a prayerful person wherever you are and at the end of the day we can be able to co-exist,” said Fr Chikoya.

“The ugly stories of tribalism, regionalism and all these issues of ‘development cannot come to you if you don’t vote in ABCD’, all those cultures and attitudes, the selfishness, the greed, the rampant corruption, we should pray against them. At the end of the day, we need to have institutions that check each other autonomously in their operations so that the checks and balances are there. I think those prayers for me are critical and of course for God to revive and bless Zambia spiritually, economically and all other areas.”