President Edgar Lungu has warned members of the clergy to stop involving themselves in partisan politics and stick to their spiritual calling of guiding and uniting the country.

And in apparent reference to opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, President Lungu says it is unfortunate that some political players are so preoccupied with going to State House by all means that they do not seem to acknowledge any meaningful development brought about by the PF government.

Speaking when he addressed party members upon arrival at Mansa Airport in Luapula Province, Sunday, President Lungu said God would punish the clergy because they were dividing the country.

“Bashimapepo twapapata mwilaingila mulyashi lya fikansa fya chalo, fundeni ukutemwana! (Church leaders, stop involving yourselves in the politics of this country, teach us how to love one another!) I want to emphasise that the Church should not allow itself to become political and destroy the unity of this country by taking sides. Tell us how to love one another so that at the end of the day, we are one. Leaders come and go, our time will come and go. But allow this country to go long after we have gone and continue as ‘one Zambia one nation.’ Today, people were in Church, [but] ifyo bacilalndapo fimbi fyabupuba! (what they were talking about was rubbish!) Bashimapepo twapapata help us tutemwane (Church leaders, please, teach us to love one another). If I have done something wrong, just call me and talk to me. But what we are seeing is that the Church, instead of building us, you are dividing us! We all come to you, the PF, UPND, MMD, even the ‘one-man’ parties… we all come to you for guidance. But you are dividing us, lesa akamikanda! (God will punish you!)” President Lungu charged.

And the President regretted that the opposition in the country had so much hatred for the ruling party, as evidenced by their lack of acknowledgement of anything meaningful the PF had achieved.

“There are people abakweba ati balishimpafye necikondo mwiloba ukweba ati pakafwe umuntu pakashala abantu, ine kanofye nkaye ku State House (there are people who have just vowed that they must go to State House no matter what). Nangu abaliko balebomba kanofye bakafume (even if the people, currently, at State House are working, they just have to go). Nomba mwebasala nimwebo (but you are the people who vote), so mufwile mwailuka ukweba ati ngo uyu nao afuma kwisa? Lyashi nshi aletuletela? (so you are supposed to judge some of the stories coming from such people) because we have seen a tendency in this country where even good things are condemned. Imfula yaloka sana, ni Lungu alenga, nga yaloka iyinono ni Lungu alenga, nanga ndine mulungu ine? (When the rains come, you complain about Lungu, when they don’t, you complain about Lungu, too, but am I God)?” the President asked.

“People should be objective and honest and sincere when they criticize. Lelo ifyo ndesanga fyakweba ati batupatafye abanensu umu mu opposition. Elo bambi twaleba nabo, talecula nabo, twakwete icipope chakweba ati tukaculila abantu but balefwaya amaka nomba balefwaya ukupupuka (but what I have discovered is that people in the opposition just hate us and some of these are people we worked with. We planned to work together for the people, but, now, they have political ambitions and they now want to fly). But there is time for everything. So, I would just like to encourage you people of Luapula to say this election that has come is a blessing to us, let us show these people that we are ‘one Zambia, one nation,’ and we want peace.”

President Lungu also encouraged voters in Luapula to vote peacefully in Thursday’s Milenge Council Chairperson by-election.

“I don’t want to hear about guns in Milenge or that there was fighting. These are just (small) votes, bigger ones will come in 2021. Let us show these people that we are more mature than them. What the opposition want is to oppose everything, they would even say, ‘because it’s from such a person, I can’t agree! What they are saying is sensible, but I can’t agree with them because they are from PF!’ But let’s not follow that, too, let us show them that we love peace and we want to take this country forward. I am so happy with the reports I have received here; everything I have heard proves that everything here is okay. I am not the one who brings rains, so teine ndufyanya iyo (I am not the one who is wrong). Let us just put everything in God’s hands and in his own greatness, God will help us. You cannot blame me for too much rain or no rains at all. I am also praying that Southern Province will also receive good rains this year and yourselves so that in the end, we will all be eating well,” President Lungu said.

He further called on PF members with political ambitions to stop distracting the current office bearers from working.

“The most important thing I want to emphasize on this trip is dialogue. Ba Provincial Minister, ba Provincial Chairman, we know that there will be elections in 2021. Some people have started preparing themselves to be elected in 2021, I am asking all those who want to be elected in 2021 not to sabotage the peace that are enjoying right now. All of you who want to be elected in 2021, allow the people who have been elected to serve. If you are going to undermine the people who are in place now, you are distracting development. Leave the people that were elected work, if you want, come replace them; you will do so when elections come. But let the MPs work because time will come when we will have elections. So, for now, all you need to do if you want to work for the people is to show them that you have love and compassion and then people will even encourage you to contest the elections after they see what you are capable of. But if you start decampaigning the people in office now, it will not help you,” said President Lungu.