COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia says tendencies of dictatorship should not be allowed in the country.
Last week, President Edgar Lungu warned anyone wanting to take advantage of the election season of imminent arrest, saying if one wanted to succeed him, they could only do so in 2026 or 2031 when he would finally be out of power.
But in an interview, CCZ secretary general Father Emmanuel Chikoya wondered what authority President Lungu had to determine when he would be out of power.
“We should not leave a legacy where our generations will not be ashamed of. No individual, including those who are in office today, has a right to determine who opposes them or who doesn’t oppose them. I think every Zambian has a duty to not only vote, but contest for any position. No Zambian has monopoly over that. I think those comments are not in tandem with democratic practices. That is something that is of concern. You cannot talk about being open to dialogue at the same time you are saying no one else can do ABCD until this year. What authority does he have? Under what law is that being applied? So I think that is not something to be happy about. Including those in the ruling party, they have a role,” Fr Chikoya said.
“When you hear of King David, there were three generals that counselled him and gave him guidance. So those around the Presidency must use it as a privilege, count it a rare privilege that they are there to transform Zambia. So we will definitely not agree to those views. It is not in order even in the spirit of the bible there is no way we should allow tendencies of dictatorship.”
And commenting on President Lungu’s remarks that government would adopt “best practices” from Uganda, among other countries’ elections, Fr Chikoya said there was no good example from that country.
“I think if you look at the Uganda scenario, there is no good example there. Shutting down of Facebook, the internet is not a good example. We have seen similar vehicles like the ones that were in Uganda have also been procured in Zambia. The police must be equipped to maintain law and order not just because there are elections. But if they are well equipped in order to deal with individuals then we miss the point and we have priorities mixed up,” said Fr Chikoya.
“I think what is critical is that let us not learn from the worst but learn from the best. The bad examples are not to be imitated and be used as a justification that ‘at least I am better, I have only killed one person or I have only injured one person.’ It doesn’t matter how many have been injured, anything that makes lives of people endangered, dehumanizes human beings whatever the number, in whatever context is not acceptable. That is a wrong comparison and shouldn’t be coming from leaders who purport to be leaders of [a] Christian nation, we should be condemning such activities. We have a chance to do the best, let us walk in peace, let us live in peace. It begins from the Head of State.”
Speaking when he featured on Radio Delight Kwitonta, Thursday evening, President Lungu hinted that he would still be Republican President up to 2026 and possibly beyond.
“Those law-breakers who want to take advantage of this season kubakanuna, kubekata! (we will arrest them!) What is important is that we want to get our moral conscience, reflect on the need for peace. Ichikalamba mutende. Ngo ulewufwaisha wu kateka limbi kuti mwaisa mu 2026 nganafumapo, limbi kuti mwaisa mu 2031 but nga mulefwaya uku onaula ichalo kwikata. (What is important is peace. If you really want to have the position of President, you will come in 2026 when I will be out of power or 2031, but if you want to destroy the country, you will be arrested!) The first thing we will do is to make sure that police are ready for these elections in terms of equipment and logistical support and that they are trained to respect human rights, of course. But the law will apply on all law-breakers that I must say very firmly and clearly so,” said President Lungu.
“People have voted, yes, in Malawi; people have voted in Tanzania; people have voted in Uganda recently; people have voted in Ghana; they voted in the United States…We will pick the best practices and apply them to Zambia where applicable. So, in short, what I am saying is that we will stop at no point to ensure that there is free and fair elections and not abusing social media and media platforms. It should be respected and used for its intended purpose. So, I am not threatening or trying to intimidating anyone; what I am saying is that mechanisms, which are there, which will help us to maintain law and order and respect each other will be applied. If we don’t have these mechanisms in Zambia, we will see how we can acquire them as soon as possible so that we control social media.”