COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Father Emmanuel Chikoya says the national day of prayer and fasting has turned into an image building event for political party players.

During the National Day of Prayer and Fasting, Sunday, Catholic priest Fr Lastone Lupupa said there was no need for President Edgar Lungu to campaign in next year’s general election because he was God-sent.

“Today, we have a Caesar in our midst, it is His Excellency the President. Do we pay taxes to the President? No. We pay our taxes to the government and three things are very important to the Christians; they don’t evade tax, Christians are the number one in obedience to paying tax. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar simply means when it comes to voting, Christians are number one on the queue to vote. Caesar has been given to you, give him what belongs to him. And then in whose image is Caesar created? Caesar is created in the image of God, therefore, give Caesar to God. If there is somebody who is going in the wrong direction, God has created the state, the state has the police officers, the state has the army just to bring us back and it acts on behalf of God. To arrest you, to incarcerate, to put you behind bars, Caesar is the commander-in-chief not only of the armed forces,” said Fr Lupupa.

“Today, we are going to perform a ritual. Today, Caesar is going to be empowered not only to command the armed forces but begin to command the economy. You are God sent, God has given you to us. Your Excellency, in case you have been doubting, you don’t need to campaign next year. I am not campaigning for you but I’m telling you the heavenly settings, the operating system under which I perceive, I am not campaigning. Even if Caesar is going to change, his Excellency is going to be there. If God is preparing another one from the opposition, don’t campaign also. You will just come smoothly because these are heavenly settings, at the proper time they come into being. No need for political violence, no need for those sponsored rallies, Caesar is coming because he is God-sent.”

But, in an interview, Fr Chikoya said the role of the clergy was to speak to the moral consciousness of the country and not to endorse a political party player.

“I stopped going to these prayers because they are camouflaged as prayers and yet they are an image building event for particular political candidates. That is unfortunate. Our role as clergy is to pray, to speak to the moral conscience of the country, to speak truth to power. How do you expect other political players and other stakeholders to be in attendance when it becomes an endorsement for one political party player? It is very unfortunate,” said Fr Chikoya. “I think that for me justifies why some of us… The moment we begin to zero in on individuals and we begin to make pronouncements, it is no longer a national day of prayer, it becomes a campaign platform for other stakeholders…I believe in prayer, we must pray and we call upon the church to continue to pray well informed prayers. Pray without an already established position and bias towards a particular stakeholder.”