Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops Bishop director Right Reverand Evans Chinyemba says in the Past five years, there has been a culture of non-respect for human life.
And Bishop Chinyemba has noted that the Catholic Church will not relent in its commitment to national reconciliation as it is part of its prophetic calling.
Meanwhile, Bishop Chinyemba says Zambia is an interesting country which goes into campaign mode immediately after a general election.
Speaking during a media day hosted by Caritas Zambia, Bishop Chinyemba wondered why very few people had been brought to book over violent incidents in the country.
“Violence that is politically instigated witnessed in 2016, 2017 as well as 2018 and has continued up to today. Political violence was recently witnessed in Kaoma where a life was lost. People were attacked simply for having divergent views with others. What worries us is that very few people have so far been brought to book over all these violent incidents. This violence will consume all of us if left unchecked. Why should a life be lost over an election? The Catholic Church is convinced that the failure to promote and protect fundamental human rights, lack of a democratic culture of tolerance and respect for divergent views and opinions is the root cause of this political violence we see,” Bishop Chinyemba said.
“As journalists, you do say that the country has successfully managed to transition power for the past 55 years but in the last five years, we have noticed that in our society today, as a culture of non-respect of human life itself, it is sad to know that Zambia has continued to record a high number of gender based violence cases. This is human beings being violent against another human being, is this what we are meant to be? We are meant to protect each other, we are meant to be a brother, to be a sister to the person next to you. We are not meant to massacre each other. That’s not the mindset of God, that’s not the wisdom of God. But as a country, those tendencies continue to happen in our communities, the church considers the right to life as fundamental and basic to all human beings. I am sure all of you will agree with me that Zambia at the moment is facing enormous challenges related to the way our economy and politics are being managed.”
He has emphasized the Catholic Church’s commitment to dialogue and reconciliation in the country.
“The Catholic Church and members of the other church mother bodies had desired to unite the country towards national dialogue and reconciliation yet these efforts were not appreciated. As for the church, we have not lost hope. The Catholic Church will not lose sight of its God given ministry of reconciliation, peace building and national unity because that is what it means to be baptized and sent. Working with the other churches and on its own, the Catholic Church will continue using a pastoral approach and this prophetic voice to promote a process of genuine national dialogue and reconciliation in the nation because we know where we do our pastoral ministries, our people, when we engage them, they want a country that is at peace, that is able to live in unity, a divided nation does not grow,” he said.
Meanwhile, the clergyman said it was sad that Zambia was always in campaign mode.
“Just as a reflection for me, I realized that Zambia is a very interesting country, you know, immediately after elections, we are in a campaign mode, for five years. So if that’s the spirituality we have of campaigning each day from the day of elections then certain things have to be put in place that can support such kind of ways of living and interacting. On the right to assemble and associate, our view is that without the public order act providing specifically for the protection of people’s rights to assemble, associate and express themselves, changes being made now will not yield any different results from the past practices and experiences,” said Chinyemba.
“Therefore, those who are working to improve the Public Order Act should believe and share the view that the main purpose of the act should not only be to control public gatherings and demonstrations but to protect the rights of people who want to assemble, meet and carry out public events with full protection of the law. This way, Gods children will enjoy peace and harmony in diversity and it should be the fundamental reason for the enactment of the POA itself.”
And Caritas Zambia executive director Eugene Kabilika said the failure by government to declare hunger a national disaster posed a major challenge in the organizations’ quest to mobilize resources for hunger stricken citizens in drought hit areas of the country.