ZAMBIA Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Bishop George Lungu says President Edgar Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema must demonstrate the brotherhood they expressed behind the curtains when they met with the church mother bodies.
And Bishop Lungu has warned that careless comments on gassing incidents will incite chaos.
Speaking at a press briefing at Kapingila House in Lusaka, Friday, Bishop Lungu said it was significant for President Lungu and Hichilema to dialogue because they determined the temperature of their followers.
“Yes, these two, matter very much and they will determine the temperature of this country. How beautiful when we heard them address one another [as] ‘brother, brother’ in one of our meetings. Now when times comes for these brothers to come out clean in the public and demonstrate the kind of brotherhood expressed behind curtains. We have a challenge but it is so significant. And not only those two, but even the smallest parties should also be brought to the round table]. The party that you think is insignificant, we invite the president for that party to come to the table for dialogue because they matter. The strength of a chain is at the weakest point,” Bishop Lungu said.
He said the church has on many occasions advised government but their advice is sometimes ignored.
“Even if sometimes we are told the truth, we don’t want to follow what people tell us, especially behind curtains. We engage government behind the doors [to say] this is not correct, this is unacceptable or this is good, continue with that one. We engage them [but] it is up to them to listen to us or to ignore us,” he said.
Bishop Lungu was accompanied by Archbishop of Kasama Rev Ignatius Chama, Archbishop of Lusaka Rev Alick Banda, Bishop Charles Kasonde of Solwezi, Bishop Evans Chinyemba of Mongu, Bishop Clement Mulenga of Kabwe, Bishop Patrick Chisanga of Mansa, Bishop Moses Hamungole of Monze, Bishop Justin Mulenga of Mpika, and Bishop Valentine Kalumba of Livingstone.
He said the current gassings and setting ablaze of each other was as a result of intolerance of divergent views, hate speech, tribal overtones, and hunger, among other issues.
“It seems to us that our country has found itself in this current scenario due to a number of factors, including but not limited to the following; Polarization of the political front. This is evident in such areas as intolerance of divergent views, hate speech, tribal overtones, and selective application of Public Order Act; Our current economic downturn with the result of unemployment, hunger, general high cost of living; Erosion of traditional, religious and moral values of our society; and mistrust and declining confidence of the community in the police service,” Bishop Lungu said.
And Bishop Lungu called for objectivity from people as they discuss gassing.
“In the name of God, we call for an immediate end to the shedding of blood. We call upon the members of the public not to take the law into their hands. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law. Those behind the said crime of gassing people should stop forthwith and repent. Our political leadership across all political divide must denounce all forms of criminality and subversive activities in order to guarantee peace, tranquillity, and harmony. We ask for objectivity and responsibility when commenting on matters of public interest. Careless and irresponsible comments are bound to bring further anarchy and confusion. For the sake of posterity, our youths and children can no longer be subjected to witnessing and /or participating in the murder of suspects in cold blood nor used as tools of violence,” he said.
He appealed to the security wings to proactively detect and apprehend the perpetrators of gassing as well as those killing others or mare suspicion.
“The security wings should be proactive in detecting and apprehending perpetrators of crime and ensuring the due process of the law is carried out and as a way of deterring criminal activities in our society. Every Zambian must uphold our traditional, religious and moral values with regard to the sacredness of human life and inviolability of human rights. Irresponsible recording, posting and sharing of graphic materials on social media to the unsuspecting public should come to an end forthwith,” said Bishop Lungu.
“We express our closeness to the traumatized families that have lost their beloved ones in the ongoing criminal activities including those living in fear and spending sleepiness nights, protecting themselves and their properties. We equally share our closeness to those men and women in uniform who have been attacked or injured in the course of protecting life and property. To the victims of alleged gassing and those that have lost their property in the ensuing confusions, we express our solidarity.”