REVEREND Suzanne Matale says politicians never learn and are never satisfied that they have enough as they always desire “more and more” wealth.

And Rev Matale says politicians think that once they are elected into office, citizens give up their rights to life.

Meanwhile, the Rev says the church needs to get back its moral consciousness of speaking out.

Speaking during the virtual Levy Mwanawasa public lecture, Friday, Matale, the former general secretary of the Council of Churches in Zambia, said the political system in Zambia only taught people to value power, material wealth and individualism.

“After 55 plus years of political independence with the wealth that God has bestowed on us in this country at a time such as this, the country could simply draw from the emergency reserves without going begging. The state of begging defeats the idea that Zambia has leadership rather than politicians. The question is that whatever happened to the US$5 billion that President Mwanawasa left in the coffers. Unfortunately, I have learnt over the years that politicians never learn and they never have enough and they want more and more. In the end, the love for material wealth enslaves them not by force but by selfishness. This phenomenon is self-defeating because Jesus says ‘what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?’ Politicians do not think about what they were before elections, they were merely ordinary people like everyone else, alas they soon forget once in office, they become super powers, each with a kingdom and territory to protect,” Rev Matale said.

“That is why the impunity is there when one leader says ‘only God will remove me from power’. The political system we have only teaches people to value power, value material wealth and individualism. I am so sorry for the young people in this country who do not know any better. Politicians have never heard of being in business for common good; this is not in their manifesto…Power is a double edged sword, it can do good for humanity or harm humanity.”

She said many politicians claimed they were Christians when they acted contrary to the principles and values of Christianity.

“Politicians do not understand that their titles of minister of this are derived from a Latin word called servant, assistant attendant to the people. They say once in power, let us make hay while the sun shines. They do not even pretend or hide that fact and this is a sign of insecurity. And then, no one asks questions for some reasons some politicians are insecure. When leaders are insecure, they live in fear of the unknown and in the process, alienate themselves from people. A secure leader’s first point of call will be to develop potential in others, motivate, train, empower, groom people for service, you cannot lead alone,” Rev Matale said.

“…And also, most politicians are comfortable with deceit; they effectively use this to exploit innocent people. Give them a little here and there, they say ‘because they are just God’s simple people, they accept the little in return for a vote, they don’t know any better. They cannot begin to see the deceit and exploitation, they have no experience for a better life, they accept life just as it is. Give them a little and they will be fine until the next elections’.”

And Rev Matale said there was a difference between politicians and leaders.

“I want to submit that leadership is not incidental. In fact, good leadership must manifest at its best in moments of crisis. Coming from a faith background, I am tempted to state the hypothesis that God bequests leadership to human beings for the purpose of carrying out the crucial task of redeeming people from the battering of the world and to lead them to peace, justice, dignity and prosperity and so my thoughts on this subject of leadership is that it is very unlikely these days to have a leader like our late president Levy Mwanawasa, very rare,” Rev Matale said.

When asked how the church could be fully involved in the affairs of the country without bias, she said church needed to go back to the drawing board.

“We have a very huge challenge here in Zambia for the church to get involved in the affairs of the country because of what has transpired over the years. You have seen how the church and the politicians or leaders have narrowed the gap, it is very difficult to see the divide between the government and the church as it was before when the church was strong, the Church spoke, it was the moral conscious of the nation but we don’t see that anymore,” said Rev Matale.

“It looks like the church is also having its own challenges and the church needs to deal with that because we need to go back to the drawing board and see where it has gone wrong. We are the ones with moral consciousness, we must be the ones that must look and speak the truth to power. That is not happening anymore. The church has to work very hard to get back to its position of being a moral consciousness of the nation.”