COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says if the Association of Catholic Parliamentarians meant well, it should have incorporated views from all Catholic MPs across the political divide.

And Fr Chikoya has insisted that Bill 10 is a defective baby which should be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Fr Chikoya has warned clergymen under his leadership to desist from making statements on Bill 10 without consulting the secretariat.

In an interview, Fr Chikoya wondered why only Catholic MPs belonging to the ruling party held a briefing to disagree with their bishops on Tuesday.

“Regarding the comment by some catholic parliamentarians, because the Association of Catholic Parliamentarians is not just about the ruling party, it also involved MPs from across the political divide. So, if there are those that met and excluded their friends, they cannot be claiming to be representing the association of parliamentarians. If they mean well, they should be able to meet as the entire group of association of catholic parliamentarians,” Fr Chikoya said.

He insisted that Bill 10 must be withdrawn.

“I affirm and stand in strong agreement with the Catholic bishop’s position [on Bill 10]. Our members should realize that the shepherd mean well. There is an African proverb saying ‘what a young person cannot see while standing, an adult will see while seated’ meaning the shepherds who have guided the church over so many years are saying there is a problem. Let us pause, let us withdraw, let us retreat and redo. Those with their own vested interests are entitled to their opinions. But the statement by the catholic bishops is on firm ground and should be supported,” Fr Chikoya said.

And commenting on the ZNBC news item attributed to a Kasama archbishop under the headline “CCZ local chapter endorses and calls upon MPs to debate Bill 10 objectively, Bill should not be withdrawn”, Fr Chikoya said members of the clergy should stop making statements as though they are the official CCZ position, without consultations.

“I want to remind all of us that we need to consult and clear issues of this nature with the secretariat. Constitutionally, the CCZ general secretary is the one mandated to give authoritative position on various national and church matters within our ranks as CCZ. The local chapters are meant to amplify and add to that voice and be able to maintain a collective position on issues of national importance,” Fr Chikoya added.

“Let’s ask ourselves on what is really happening in our country. For example, other people want to hold petitions on 22nd June and they are threatened that their bones will be broken. Suddenly today, there is a countrywide petitioning and protests to petition that certain things are done. What kind of laws do we have that favour certain individuals and other stakeholders are not supposed to be protected? I am calling on us to have a deep reflection and let us not allow ourselves to be caught up and being used by those that are already on the political chessboard. Please do not use the name of CCZ to endorse certain things without checking with the secretariat on the position on this matter.”

Meanwhile, Fr Chikoya insisted that Bill 10, in its current form, was still a defective baby.

“The Bill 10 is a defective baby and this is shared without any malice and without any intention to be unnecessarily problematic. There are a lot of things that we are not able to share in public spaces, the private meetings, the behind the scenes meetings that we were involved in as the three church mother bodies trying to promote and facilitate national dialogue, those were deliberately sabotaged and we saw the introduction of the NDF. The issues that are to be dealt with are of governance in nature and the best platform could have been a comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue,” said Fr Chikoya.