Religious Affairs and National Guidance Minister Godfridah Sumaili says government is looking to the Church, individuals, families and those doing business in Zambia to assist with funds for the construction of the National House of Prayer Tabernacle.

Sumaili said due to austerity measures, government could not contribute towards the construction of the National House of Prayer.

The National House of Prayer site in Lusaka’s Woodlands area had previously been earmarked, with land clearing done, ahead of the much-anticipated commencement of construction of the facility at an estimated total cost of US$10 million.

But since the groundbreaking ceremony of the religious establishment by President Edgar Lungu on October 25, 2015, construction has stalled despite the Head of State appointing 12 members of the advisory board, fundraising and technical committee.

“The National House of Prayer agenda is on and I am glad to say that the Church has taken a front-role; they are spearheading this process. We expect the construction to start anytime. We have a task force in place, the task force includes people from the Church representing various Church mother bodies, but also technically from the various relevant government ministries like the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing, the Ministry of Works and Supply, Ministry of Information and my ministry. We are working together on this project. So, I just want to encourage us, as Zambians, that if there is a project you want to identify with, it should be the National House of Prayer, it is carrying generational blessings. We, as a Christian nation, need to have a place we can say ‘this is a national alter where we have to go and have interdenominational prayers’,” Sumaili said at a press briefing, Wednesday.

She explained that government was unable to contribute to the construction of the National House of Prayer due to the austerity measures being implemented.

“So, who are going to finance this project? It should be Zambians, so we are looking to individuals. When our parents were building the University of Zambia, everybody participated. Those who didn’t have cash, they brought a chicken. Surely, can we fail to do the National House of Prayer? So, resources will come from the individuals who feel that they need to identify themselves with this very important project. But also, we are looking to families; as families, we can invest in this project of God. We are also looking to the private sector who are doing business in Zambia, God has blessed them! Surely, they can put something in that project? But also, even as government, this is something that is going to be a symbol of us, a nation being a Christian nation. But for now, under these austerity measures, let’s begin as individuals, as Churches, as families and, definitely, that building is going to come,” said Sumaili.

Speaking at the same event, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya said the reason why Zambians were not clinching huge government contracts was because citizens had an attitude of attaching corruption to everything.

“The reason why Zambians are not doing business, especially big business, is because Zambians don’t want Zambians to get rich! If a contract is given to a Zambian, it’s corruption. Zambians have refused, mentally, to have Zambians get rich. So, until we address that mental block, that let’s discuss big things instead of small little things, we are not going to allow Zambians to get rich. Right now, if a big contract is given to a Zambian, even this 20 per cent, people will start asking ‘why have you given this Zambian?’ But why isn’t it possible that Zambians can sit in government, especially purchasing and procurement people and say: ‘let us give Zambians opportunities?’ So, we, ourselves, have been refusing to give Zambians business because we’ve identified all Zambian businesses with corruption! But if the same procedure is used to give a foreign company, then it’s okay. If the same procedure is used to give a Zambian company, it’s corruption. But how?” wondered Siliya.