THE Church-Mother-Bodies have asked government to reconsider its position on the cessation of all business transactions with Prime Television, saying the broadcaster is an effective channel of information during the coronavirus pandemic.

And the Church has asked government to be transparent on all donations being made towards the fight and prevention of COVID-19 so as to instill confidence in the donors.

Meanwhile, the Church has asked President Edgar Lungu to effect a total lockdown in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

At a media briefing held by representatives of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Independent Churches of Zambia (ICOZ) in Lusaka, Saturday, ZCCB general secretary Fr Cleophas Lungu advised government to re-engage Prime TV because now was not the time to dwell on differences.

“The position of the Church mother bodies is that this is not the time to dwell on differences. That is why our call has gone even to political party leaders that in other matters, there can be opportunities, there can be time for arguing and politicizing issues; but now is not the time to politicize issues. We need everybody on board; we need to act as one and together as a nation. This applies to the media houses as well whether public or private; we need to rise above board and contribute to the fight against the spread of this pandemic. That is why our appeal goes to government to consider allowing Prime TV to come on board and contribute. We know that they have a wide coverage and audience, they can be an effective channel of not only informing people and I believe some people in the country will be denied the critical information if certain media houses would be removed from certain platforms, bouquets and things like that,” Fr Lungu said.

“Today we may be talking of Prime TV, another day we will be talking of another media house. Therefore, the action that Prime TV took to apologise was the right action and we would like to appeal to government to reconsider their position.”

Fr Lungu asked government to be transparent on all of donations being made to towards the prevention of coronavirus.

“We would like to thank all those that are putting their resources; human material as well as financial resources at the disposal of the government in order to fight this war. We are at war. What would be our wish is that even as government continues to update the nation on the figures of those who are confirmed to have this disease and those who are recovering, there could be an update on how much has been collected and that is easy to do. People would be happy to see that their Kwacha, their coin is contributing and saving lives. This our call and this call goes not only to government but to all actors; the government and non-state actors, that we be transparent. Even as the Church when we receive donations, we remain accountable to the people who have placed those resources in our hands and to see that there is an impact on the lives of our people,” said Fr Lungu.

And speaking at the same event, EFZ board chairperson Bishop Paul Mususu warned the clergymen not to try and treat the severity of COVID-19 spiritually.

“I want to be very practical here; it is so easy for someone who has got malaria to go and get malaria treatment and yet at the same time, it’s so difficult for people to adhere to take ARVs when they are on that treatment. The stigma attached to it and there are all sorts of interventions attached to it especially from us as the Church, where we believe that we can just pray for someone and ask them to stop taking ARVs. But what we are saying is that we shouldn’t see demons in the coronavirus; this is a virus that is affecting countries, individuals and commonly we are saying that let’s just be realistic and appreciate science so that we do not spiritualise anything here,” said Bishop Mususu.

“The call that we are making is the risk that the Church may be exposed to by ignoring and putting everything into a spiritual mode where if we are told to stay apart, we say ‘no no no, bu God’s grace we are going to meet tomorrow and worship God because in the presence of God there is no coronavirus. We can spiritualise that and infect the members of our Churches and we will have no Church tomorrow. Simply put, we are calling on the Church to be realistic. We are stopping people from praying but we are saying don’t stop people from seeking medical guidance on pretext of praying for them.”

Meanwhile, ICOZ board chairperson Bishop David Masupa asked President Lungu to consider effecting a lockdown.

“While we acknowledge the measure put in place by the government so far, we wish to consider all our boarders to non-citizens and allow only a few exceptions to cross in Zambia. We are preview to the fact that this move will negatively affect our economy. But given the current scenario, we do not have a choice but to close all our boarders to preserve human life. In closing boarders, we must also advocate for a shutdown of all public gatherings and stringent measures to limit contact in markets, bus stations, and public transport vehicles. We further call on the government to ensure that there is proper stewardship and accountability of all donations and allocated funds for this programe as well as cost effective utilization of the same,” said Bishop Masupa.

“Physical isolation does not mean spiritual distancing. This is the time for the churches all over the country to review their role in society by safety ministering to, providing for and caring for the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the aged. All those who are most at risk due to Covid-19. In the midst of this grave crisis, we pray for and urge the government to give priority to those who live in poverty as well as to the marginalized and the refugees living in our midst. We pledge to help provide pastoral care to communities, especially the vulnerable, the dying and bereaved, the elderly and psychologically depressed.”