NATIONAL Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili says her Ministry condemns political violence and abuse of human rights in the country.
In an interview, Rev Sumaili said her Ministry was on top of things and played its part in ensuring that there was national unity in the country.
Reacting to heightened concerns by various stakeholders that her Ministry had been selective in condemning political violence and police brutality, Rev Sumaili said it was unfortunate that people had a preconceived attitude towards her Ministry.
“You know, that is very unfair! If you look at the papers, you have seen me on TV condemning it. That is just bias and people have a preconceived attitude towards our Ministry, it is just to condemn. But it is not true, we have been on top of things, I have been at the funerals, I have talked to this one and that one, we have done our part. We are doing a number of things. First and foremost, I am sure you have seen that we are really promoting national values and principles. We have translated those values into local languages,” Rev Sumaili said.
“We are calling even the traditional leaders because they can also put their efforts to hold everyone together. We have been going round and meeting church leaders to ensure that they also stand out and speak for peace. So, there are a number of things that we are doing and we are very hopeful that as we enter 2021, we should be peaceful, but all of us have to make that effort.”
She, however, cautioned media houses to desist fueling tension in the country.
“Also, I want to speak to you people, the media, don’t add fuel to the fire. You know, when you write things that flare the minds of the people, you make them angry, no! Be calm, reporting professionally in the interest of the nation, should be paramount,” Rev Sumaili said.
She further called on traditional and church leaders to help preserve peace in the country by engaging political leaders.
“The peace that we have should be preserved by all of us. It has to take every Zambian’s responsibility to ensure that we keep peace. God has graciously given us this peace, now it is our responsibility as a people to ensure that we keep the peace. How do we keep the peace? The Constitution is very clear with the national values and principles Part Two Article (8); it talks about national unity, we have to make an effort to be together, to build unity, to flow together and also patriotism, we have to love our nation. We should not do things that will bring confusion or chaos in the country! For me, it should start from the family-level, at the family-level, are we really teaching our children to love their nation and not to do anything that is not in the interest of the nation? We are calling on the Church leaders to speak about peace from their pulpits in the congregation and also make an effort to talk to the leaders. They should talk to our political leaders that we need to flow together and we need to be of one mind. We need to respect the rule of law,” said Rev Sumaili.
‘”That is very cardinal, respecting the rule of law. I am calling upon the political leaders to respect the rule of law, but also to make an effort to speak to each other so that if there are any issues that they feel are outstanding or we don’t agree, we can come together and be of one mind. We are ‘One Zambia and One Nation. Our church leaders, let them help us, let them speak to the political leaders on the issues of peace, on the issue of rule of law. We do not want chaos, we want to be together. The things that happened last week (two unarmed civilian deaths) are very unfortunate, very regrettable and should not happen again.”
Meanwhile, speaking during a media sensitisation and mainstreaming of National Values and Principals in Lusaka, Monday, Rev Sumaili urged politicians to desist from abusing the media and violating their rights by coercing them to be a medium of their hate speech.
“Let me take this opportunity to talk to my fellow politicians to desist from abusing the media and violating their rights. The media have a responsibility to inform the masses, and as you campaign, do not coerce the media to be your medium of bad campaign messages that will divide the nation. I call upon you to respect the media as they carry out their duties. Do not harass them! We need a media that is safe from violence,” said Rev Sumaili in a speech delivered on her behalf by Ministry Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela.
“The government of His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu, wishes to see a media fraternity that is not only vibrant, but responsible in the manner they gather and publicise the news. Our national values and principals exist not only as a good moral campus, but as a guide to our daily operations.”
More than 30 journalists from both private and public media houses were in attendance.