ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says Zambia is in a dictatorial regime, in everything, except name.
And Archbishop Mpundu says PF should have called Bill 10 as “Bill Third Term”.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu says the ruling Patriotic Front risks not having a presidential candidate in next year’s elections because President Lungu is not eligible to stand.
Speaking when he appeared on MUVI TV’s The Assignment programme, Sunday, Archbishop Mpundu said Zambia was now a dictatorship.
“When it comes to freedom of expression, freedom of speech…those young people who wanted to meet the President what happened? They were threatened by guns! Our own children threatened with guns! That was disgraceful! What kind of freedom is that?” Archbishop Mpundu asked.
“What kind of freedom is that where people are not free to speak? They are not free to come together and share ideas? What kind of Freedom is that where the President is threatening lawyers that ‘I have to run again and if this ConCourt stops me, you will see what will happen’. We already have a President who is so strong and now this time they want him to be more powerful. This is not democracy at all! This is a dictatorship in everything except name. There are no two ways about it. People should not go around beating around the bush, this is the situation.”
And Archbishop Mpundu insisted that if enacted, Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 would perpetuate President Lungu’s stay in power.
He said the bill should have actually been named “Bill Third Term”.
“Bill 10 is shameful Bill. Why is it that every administration that comes to State House wants to change the constitution in order to perpetuate them in power? This is wrong! PF is tampering with the constitution in order to perpetuate themselves in power, not just the President. They will be remaining there to continue marring administration in this country. It is a shameful Bill. They should have called it Bill Third Term. They want to give a third term to Lungu but he has already served two terms according to the Constitution. And not only that, a law that is made to benefit one person or to benefit a group of people against others is, right from the word go, wrong! And that is what it is. What is hidden in that and people fear, this fear must be expressed. What they see is not only to perpetuate Lungu’s stay in State House but it is designed in such a way that one person among those who are aspiring to be candidates will be disqualified. And this is criminal. It must be withdrawn,” he said.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu said PF risked not having a candidate in 2021 if they stuck with President Lungu.
“We are not constitutional lawyers but we can read. The law says ‘anyone who has been elected twice as President of the Republic of Zambia can’t run for another.’ He has served two terms and this what has happened to Lungu he is not eligible. The time of nomination, those candidates who think they are eligible will start filing in their nomination and then once this has been done, they close the nomination but then people who know that one candidate does not qualify will place in a petition with the ConCourt. And if everything goes well according to what we know, he is disqualified. That means the PF won’t have a candidate because once they have closed the nomination, you can’t go back and say ‘we are going to nominate this person’ it might be too late. So we might be going to the polls with the PF without a presidential candidate. But they want to make sure that he puts in his nomination you can’t challenge that after elections,” he said.
When asked if he was a UPND sympathiser, he denied, saying he was a non-politician who wanted to lend his intelligence to better the lives of Zambians.
“…It is not a question of interfering in politics, this is our mandate. Anyone who says ‘you are a politician. Why don’t you come out?’ You see, the communist used to say ‘religion is the opium of the people.’ No politician will tell me you are interfering in politics, this is my duty. I am also a politician. I am not seeking political power. It is just as a human being I have the intelligence given to me by God that this is wrong especially when it comes to people. So no one is going to say to me that ‘you are being fronted, you are a hired gun.’ You think it is so easy to hire me? I am not a hired one, I am not a gun. I am a human being, a priest and a Bishop. And nobody is going to tell me that ‘you shouldn’t do this’ no. So nobody is going to frighten me that you are coming into politics. Yes, politics is my business and I want to see politics being done in the proper way. I am not seeking political power. Why would I seek political power at my age? It is just speculation, hallucinations. Hallucinations is when somebody’s mind goes radioactive they start seeing all kinds of things,” he said.
Archbishop Mpundu urged Zambians to ask themselves sincerely if the ruling party was their party of choice.
“My word is very simple. They have seen what has been going on. I think all the administrations have to be judged by their actions by the fruits that come from the administrations. This country is in a crisis. Crisis of leadership, crisis of the economy, putting people at loggerheads, tribalism and so on. Is this the government people want to continue? Let them ask themselves sincerely. There are no two ways about it. [If it’s corruption], mamama. When they go to vote, is this the government they want to continue with or they need a break? And a big break,” Archbishop Mpundu wondered.
He condemned the Catholic Parliamentarians Association comprised of PF MPs who differed with their Bishops.
“Recently, there was an incident where the Bishops Conference sent a pastoral statement concerning Bill 10 where they criticised it and said it should be withdrawn because it brings retrogressive elements. And what happened? A group of people calling themselves Catholic parliamentarians reacted and said ‘it is wrong you can’t do that’. It is unprecedented that Christians would tell the bishops who have been teaching from authoritative documents of the church and the social teaching of the church. They told the bishops that what you said is wrong. If I were in their positions now, I would say that the leadership of the Catholic parliamentarians should resign. It has never happened! I would at least tell them for the time being don’t use the name Catholic because it is a scandal,” said Archbishop Mpundu, who insisted that those in power should be held accountable by the church.
“You don’t make a nation a Christian nation by a declaration… I asked Chiluba, ‘did you consult other Christian bodies?’ He said ‘no’ he just came one day and said ‘we are a Christian nation.’ That is wrong! You don’t make a Christian nation by a declaration. It is what you do, how you behave that is when they are going to say ‘this is a Christian nation’ not a declaration.