Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Right Reverend Bishop George Zumaili Lungu has observed that things are getting worse for citizens in the country as they are getting more hungry, angry and frustrated.

And Bishop Lungu says if a council chairperson by-election could lead to loss of life, then the worst must be expected from the 2021 general elections.

Meanwhile, Bishop Lungu, who is also Chipata Diocese Bishop, has called on Catholics to stand up and defend the church from attacks by people who are ignorant about its doctrines and practices.

Delivering a sermon at St Anne’s Parish during the “Closure of The Year of The Mission Mass”, Sunday, Bishop Lungu said the country’s leadership needed to face reality and acknowledge that things were not okay.

He said the situation was so tense in the country that it would only take one strike and a small protest for the whole country to go up in flames.

“Ngati palibe mtendere, sitinga pembeze bwino Chauta nyamalenga. Sono mau ameneba akuti mu pemphelele atsogoleli, chifukwa nizoona, ngati utsogoleli niwa bwino, zinthu zimayenda bwino, koma ngati utsogoleli niwoipa, zinthu zima bvuta. Nichifukwa chake kuti ngati mwapezeka pama bvuto, tell the truth because it is the truth that will set you free. Nilu kamba zimenezi, nifuna lelo nikambe choonadi cho choka pansi pa mtima wanga, kuti zinthu sizili bwino. Ndipo pano palibe ndale, nilu kamba chilungamo, nilu kamba because we have been enlightened by the word of God, si zanga ine yayi (When there is no peace, we cannot worship God. These words tell us to pray for our leaders, it’s true that when you have good leaders, things move well but if you have wrong leaders, things can go really bad. This is why when you find yourself in a problem, tell the truth because it is only the truth that will set you free. As I am speaking, I want to say the truth from the bottom of my heart that things are not okay. There is no politics here, I am just being honest because we have been enlightened by the word of God),” Bishop Lungu said as the congregation cheered.

“Uuumm! Banthu ba ambuye, zinthu sizili bwino. Sono ngati if we decide to evade the truth, one day the truth will catch up, vinthu vikati bvute. Ndiye chifukwa chake akuti prevention is better than cure. Zinthu sizili bwino yayi, Ni zoonadi kuti mwachosa ma fees ambilimbili koma ngati simu ponyamo ndalama mu skulu nibvuto, mwavutitsa mpunzitsi. Kodi choko aka chitole kuti? Timaba fotokozela behind curtains. Chifundo kuza chipatala, tikamva nkani ya chakudya chama patient, zinthu zafika poipa. Kodi mankhwala oyamba si chakudya? (Things are not okay and if we decide to evade the truth, one day the truth will catch up with us and things will be even harder. That’s the reason why prevention is better than cure. How do you remove funding from the education sector? When you do that, you create a problem for teachers. Where are they going to get chalk from? We tell the leaders about all these things behind curtains. I feel pity for the health sector where patients don’t have food. But the first aid for patients is food, isn’t it?).”

He said the load shedding situation was getting worse to the extent that soon, there would be complete blackout in people’s households.

“Ife amene tima pitako kabili kabili ku Lusaka uku, uuumm! Kuli chi tukukuko ka ku Lusaka cha miseu, alu vikonza vi miseu. Kuti ma galimoto ni two by two, alu pita uku two, two alu bwelelanso, alukonza, alu ika bwino bwino. Lomba ine ochoka ku’mawa, nika funopita ku Vubwi, tima pita through Malawi, sinikumva bwino yayi. (Those of us who frequently travel to Lusaka, there is serious road development, they are fixing roads and upgrading them to dual carriageways. They are really fixing roads; you have two lanes going in one direction and two the other direction. Now for me coming from the East who has to pass through Malawi to go to Vubwi, I am not happy),” Bishop Lungu said.

“We cannot say much about load shedding, from four hours, to six hours then eight hours to 12 hours and the next time it will be a blackout (audience laughs). Let us buy boxes of candles, things are not okay. It is true that the prayers we offered on the 18th of October, the fasting we did, it should continue. It should not be a one day affair. I exalt you to continue praying and fasting because that is serious. But for our prayers to be heard, the word for today from Isaiah first verse says, ‘do good and act justly’. As we are praying and fasting, our lifestyle should be that of doing good and loving the truth; that’s when our prayers will be heard by God. The truth is that people are getting more and more angry, frustrated, this is very fearful because it will just take a small strike and a [protest] march and everything will be up in flames.”

He wondered why a council chairperson by-election would cost a life and expressed concern of what would happen during the general election.

“Imagine a council chairperson by-election should bring violence? And someone even lost a life. Now if this small election caused this, what should we expect when we have bigger elections like presidential and parliamentary? We need to be prepared, this is serious,” Bishop Lungu added.

Meanwhile, Bishop Lungu said attacks on the Catholic Church were of great concern to the leadership and urged congregants to educate non-Catholics.

“I know that some of these churches, the agenda is to destroy the Catholic Church. Preaching after preaching, homily after homily, the only thing they speak about is the Catholic Church. Attacking the Catholic Church, what did we do wrong? We preach the word as it is. ‘The Lord says this and this’, that’s all but to come to a point where you make it your own agenda preaching against the Catholic Church, it is unfortunate. I remember being questioned as to why we wear a cross. They said you are the ones who killed Jesus. And I agree that it is very true. We are the ones who killed Jesus and we continue to kill him. That’s why we wear the cross,” said Bishop Lungu.

“Let us tell them the truth and it will set them free. There is so much ignorance out there about the Catholic Church and its teaching, so much ignorance. And people share that ignorance. In their innocence, they share because we have retreated, we have allowed the situation to go on hoping that it will sort itself out, no! Today is the beginning, we are drawing the line today that from now onwards, I have no apologies to make to be a Catholic. Now is the time, this is the hour. If we don’t have programs for door to door evangelism, let us inform our people to go and preach the good news.”